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With Connections to Rochester, Famed Cleveland Orchestra Concertmaster Performs as RPO Guest

October 25, 2007

William Preucil was Mentor to RPO's own Juliana Athayde

Rochester, NY – From pastoral to peasant, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra brings nature- and folk-inspired music by Beethoven, Bartók and Smetana into the Eastman Theatre with “Beethoven’s Pastoral” on Thursday, November 15 and Saturday, November 17 at 8 p.m. under the baton of Music Director Christopher Seaman.  William Preucil – concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra since 1995 – performs as the guest artist in Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 1.  Christopher Seaman hosts the pre-concert chat at 7:00 p.m. 

Mr. Preucil has a direct tie to the RPO through Concertmaster Juliana Athayde, who, in 2005, became the first graduate of the prestigious Concertmaster Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) under Preucil’s intensive one-on-one mentorship.  Many Rochesterians also will remember Mr. Preucil during his seven seasons as first violinist of the Grammy-winning Cleveland Quartet in residence at the Eastman School of Music, just prior to his Cleveland Orchestra appointment.  Earlier in his career, Preucil served as concertmaster in Atlanta, Utah and Nashville, and appeared as a soloist with the orchestras of Detroit, Hong Kong, Minnesota and Taipei.  Composer Stephen Paulus’ Violin Concerto was written for, and dedicated to, Mr. Preucil, who premiered and recorded it with the Atlanta Symphony under conductor Robert Shaw.  Active in chamber music, Mr. Preucil continues to perform as a member of the Lanier Trio.  He serves as distinguished professor of violin at CIM.

Mr. Preucil takes the stage to perform Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 1, “a masterpiece which deserves to be heard more,” says Christopher Seaman.  While smitten with the young violinist Stefi Geyer in 1907, Bartók sketched out a three-movement violin concerto as a musical portrayal of his beloved.  Although Miss Geyer ultimately broke off their relationship, she requested a copy of the manuscript, to which was attached a dedication to her inscribed with a poem about disappointed love.  Although individual movements of the piece were performed separately, it was not until 1958 that the concerto was performed in its entirety.  The work demonstrated the beginnings of a new direction in Bartók’s music, reflecting the earthy and complex folk music of the composer’s native Hungary.

The RPO program opens with Beethoven’s much-loved “Pastoral Symphony” (1808), frequently associated with the 1940 Disney animated film, Fantasia, in which the music played a prominent role.  One of Beethoven’s few works with a programmatic theme, each of the five movements is based on a recollection of experiences during Beethoven’s long walks in the Vienna countryside.  A cheerful depiction of arrival in the countryside is followed by a movement often held to be one of Beethoven’s most beautiful and serene compositions.  The third movement depicts country dancing and reveling, only to end abruptly with a violent and realistic thunderstorm in the fourth movement.  Finally, the sun returns and the final movement emphasizes the shepherds’ song of thanksgiving.

“The Moldau,” from Czech composer BedÅ™ich Smetana’s symphonic cycle Má vlast (My Homeland), recalls some of the bucolic nature of the program’s Beethoven symphony.  In this work, Smetana uses tone painting to describe the course of one of Bohemia’s great rivers, the Moldau, from its beginnings as two small streams, unifying into a single current running through woods, meadows and landscapes, and achieving great majesty as it reaches Prague before disappearing into the sea.  The piece contains Smetana’s most famous tune, an adaptation of an ancient folk song of indeterminate origin.

Tickets for these performances are $20-$55, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100); in person from the RPO Box Office, Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.); and seven days a week at area Wegmans.  A convenience fee may apply.
The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by The Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb.  Christopher Seaman’s appearance is made possible by Friends of Christopher, and his pre-concert chat is made possible by Drs. Robin and Michael Weintraub in memory of their parents.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted Philharmonics Series tickets to local college students. 

Celebrating its 85th season in 2007-08, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique
tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming.  RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County and the City of Rochester. 

Note: Digital photos of Mr. Preucil and interviews are available on request.

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