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Dazzling RPO Concertmaster Juliana Athayde Begins New Year with Prokofiev's Violin Concerto

December 18, 2006

Additional repertoire by Riegger, Mendelssohn and Strauss inspired by dance

Rochester, NY – Since her auspicious debut in September 2005 as concertmaster with the Rochester  Philharmonic Orchestra, 26-year old Juliana Athayde has wowed audiences with her poise, maturity and sparkle, and playing that “dazzles with lyricism” (Democrat and Chronicle, April 2006).  On Thursday, January 4 and Saturday, January 6 at 8 p.m., Juliana steps into the solo spotlight, showing off her considerable talents in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in the Eastman Theatre under the baton of Music Director Christopher Seaman.  In fact, it was this piece that Maestro Seaman first heard Juliana perform while at the Aspen Music Festival. 

No stranger to the spotlight, Juliana made her “official” solo debut with the RPO last April when she filled in for ailing RPO Principal Cello Stefan Reuss who had been the scheduled soloist.  Juliana also performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto last summer with the Orchestra at the Constellation Brands – Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center (CMAC) in Canandaigua.  The first graduate of the prestigious Concertmaster Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Juliana made her solo debut with the San Francisco Symphony at the age of 16.  She has also appeared with the Asheville, Canton, Diablo, Flint, Mid-Texas, Palo Alto, Plymouth and Wyoming Symphony Orchestras, and has been a guest at a variety of chamber music festivals.

The concert opens with Dance Rhythms, a jaunty, jazz-inspired piece written in 1954 by the American composer Wallingford Riegger, making clever use of the marimba and other percussion instruments.  Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto follows, a piece that reflects the composer’s complicated history with his Soviet Union birthplace.  The concerto begins with the solo violin alone playing a melancholy theme reminiscent of Russian folk music.  The rest of the piece features Prokofiev’s glorious soaring melodies, with the last movement – the most “Russian” of all four – featuring a hearty dance rhythm enhanced by the surprising use of castanets.  Maestro Seaman says that the exciting finish always makes him think of “demented balalaikas!”

The second half opens with Mendelssohn’s popular and beautifully crafted Symphony No. 4 “Italian.”  Mendelssohn pulls out his many “tricks” in the various movements, concluding with a saltarello (a fast Italian dance performed mainly on the toes) as the whirling Finale.  The concert closes with the immensely familiar On the Beautiful Blue Danube (better known as the Blue Danube Waltz) by Johann Strauss Jr., “the waltz king.” 

Tickets for these performances are $20-$54, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, as well as at all Wegmans Video Departments.  RPO Box Office Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). The Wegmans Video Department is open seven days a week, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. A convenience fee may apply.

The Philharmonics Series is sponsored by Eastman Kodak Company and Bausch & Lomb. This concert is sponsored by Nixon Peabody LLP; Juliana Athayde’s appearance is made possible by The Katherine T. and Jon L. Schumacher Orchestra Musician Soloist Fund.  The RPO gratefully acknowledges PAETEC Communications Inc. for the PAETEC Philharmonic Partners program, which offers discounted Philharmonics Series tickets to local college students. 

Now in its 84th season, 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 ASCAP awards for adventurous programming in recent years.

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; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO. 


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