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Israeli Violinist Debuts with Sublime Sibelius

October 12, 2009

Rochester, NY – Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman debuts with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra as a rising star in Sibelius’ superbly atmospheric Violin Concerto on Thursday October 29 at 7:30 pm, and Saturday, October 31 at 8:00 pm at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.  Music Director Christopher Seaman conducts with a personal connection to the opening work.  He also hosts the First Niagara Pre-Concert Chat one hour prior to concert start.

The death in 1976 of British composer Benjamin Britten “profoundly affected the music world,” said Christopher Seaman, who knew the composer personally and played for him several times.  Estonian composer Arvo Pärt had just discovered the music of Britten, and writes in his program notes that he “was taken with the unusual purity of his music.”  Recognizing both the magnitude of such a loss, and the fact that now the Estonian composer never would be able to meet the composer, was Pärt’s inspiration to write Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten.  In medieval times, “cantus” referred simply to a melody, later coming to mean a lament, or a mystical experience.  Pärt’s Cantus opens with the sound of a tolling bell, while the strings play harmonies reminiscent of monks intoning in an ancient cathedral, creating a profoundly moving atmosphere.  
 
Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, which the composer revised in 1905, casts an immediate spell of mystery, then launches into some of the piece’s most energetic and passionate music.  The slow movement is very romantic, with the solo violin singing a wonderful melody, much of it in the instrument’s lower register. The Finale is wild and dance-like, enhanced by irresistible syncopation and the most virtuosic and technically demanding writing for the violin.

Early in his career, Vadim Gluzman was encouraged and supported by the great violinist and mentor, Isaac Stern. In 1994, Gluzman received the prestigious Henryk Szeryng Foundation Career Award.  Known for his virtuosity and technical brilliance, he appears with many of the world’s leading orchestras including the London Philharmonic; Chicago Symphony; Israel Philharmonic; San Francisco, Houston, and Seattle symphony orchestras; Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin; Munich, Dresden, and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras; the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra; NHK, and KBS Orchestras; among many others. He regularly collaborates with the world’s most prominent conductors such as Neeme Järvi, Andrew Litton, Itzhak Perlman, Dmitri Kitaenko, and Paavo Järvi, and has performed at important festivals such as Verbier, Ravinia, Lockenhaus, Pablo Casals, Colmar, Jerusalem, Schwetzinger Festspiele, and Festival de Radio France.  Gluzman’s future appearances include a recital debut at London’s Wigmore Hall, as well as touring the U.S. with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and performing with numerous orchestras in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.  He can be heard exclusively on BIS Records.
 
British composer Vaughan Williams wrote the music for his Fifth Symphony from an opera based on John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, although the composer did not intend the symphony to tell any kind of story. “Just as the book is an account of a man’s journey to spiritual enlightenment (the ‘Heavenly City’),” says Christopher Seaman, “so the symphony seems to progress to a peaceful and satisfying destination. The opening notes of the horns set a mood of unease and questioning, and lead into a first movement reminiscent of a journey or a search. The Scherzo has a will-o’-the-wisp quality, elegantly demonic. The slow movement, with its English horn solo above glorious harmonies on the strings, brings us back to more consoling ground. Then the hymn-like Finale gives us the feeling of having arrived at the Pilgrim’s destination. But just before the end, the opening horn notes come back fortissimo on the full orchestra, scaring us into wondering if our search has been in vain, and whether we have arrived at the wrong place.  But the doubts fade away and we do indeed take our places in the ‘Heavenly City.’”

Tickets for these performances are $20-$75, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org; by phone (454-2100); in-person from the RPO Box Office, 108 East Avenue, 10:00 am-5:00 pm, Monday-Saturday (non-concert Saturdays, 10:00 am-3:00 pm); 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.

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