Merced Symphony

Auspicious Beginnings

Your Merced Symphony starts its 62nd Season with an exciting concert opener! Hear how Mendelssohn’s gorgeous Hebrides Overture draws its influences from the lyrical movements of the sea. Then Merced will experience the world-premiere of a newly-composed piano concerto by Heather Pinkham, and featuring world-renowned pianist Ralph van Raat. We next return to the genre’s roots with Beethoven’s exciting and energetic Symphony No. 1, a timeless classic that forever changed symphonic music!


October 5, 2019 | 7:30pm
Merced Theatre


Composer Heather Pinkham

Photograph of Heather Pinkham

Heather Pinkham is a California-born pianist, composer, and musicologist who practices her craft in the Netherlands. She plays piano in the trio No Piece of Wood, with Sjors van der Mark on electric guitar and Hanna van Rooijen singing mezzo soprano. Heather is also the accompanist for the choir Basic & Full Color in Amersfoort. Before moving to The Netherlands, Heather played for several choirs in the San Francisco Bay Area, including as orchestral pianist/organist for the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (a 210-voice ensemble) under the direction of Merced Symphony Association Music Director, Ming Luke.

Heather earned her Master of Arts degree in Cognitive Musicology at the University of Amsterdam and her Bachelor of Arts double degree in Music (piano performance and musicology) and Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. During this time, Heather had the privilege of studying with Richard Taruskin, Nicholas Mathew, and Jacqueline Chew, among others.

Photo Courtesy: Heather Pinkham.

Guest Pianist Ralph van Raat

Photograph of Ralph van Raat

Ralph van Raat helps audiences identify with modern day composers by adhering to a classical approach: he firmly believes that a strong sense of classical structure as well as a refinement of tone is essential in conveying the logic and poetry of any music, certainly including his repertoire of choice. Van Raat has been completely fascinated by classical music of the twentieth century since the age of 14. Although his repertoire ranges from Bach to Boulez, his primary focus has always been on composers dating from Debussy, Bartók, and Ives to present day masters. He aims to convince his audiences of the immense beauty and diversity of music of our own time through solo recitals, lecture-recitals, concerto performances, CD-releases and special projects.

Pianist and musicologist Ralph van Raat studied the piano with Ton Hartsuiker and Willem Brons at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and Musicology at the University of Amsterdam, graduating cum laude. He won First Prize at the International Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition in 1999. Van Raat has won a large number of prizes and awards over his celebrated career.

Photo credit: Simon van Boxtel. Courtesy: Ralph van Raat.