October 28, 2009

Musings from Vadim's rehearsal...

This morning brought one of those opportunities I don’t often get, but when they happen, they’re unforgettable. I sat in on the first RPO rehearsal of the Violin Concerto by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius with this week’s soloist, violinist Vadim Gluzman and Music Director Christopher Seaman. In a unique turn of events, my RPO colleague, Janice, was able to provide a couple of photos for this blog from onstage, and here’s why. Gluzman wanted to actually face the orchestra for this first musical meeting with our musicians, rather than rehearsing with his back to them, facing out to the hall as he would for a performance. Musicians communicate information with their body language, and once he started to play, it was ALL about the emotion of the piece.

With his jet black hair and clothes to match, Gluzman began to play (the violin seems to arise from a murmuring bed of orchestra strings), and one could almost feel the waves of the Baltic Sea roiling over the icy landscape, with a horizon wide with dark clouds. Gluzman has a HUGE, gorgeous sound, which filled the entire hall, even as his back was to me as I sat in the audience. It pinned me to my seat like a laser. The combination of the solo part combined with Sibelius’ lush orchestration is one of my favorite orchestral experiences. The timpani sounded as if the Nordic gods are having a heated argument, but then there’s a melody that’s passed from viola to bassoon to cello, and each can be heard as part of the whole.

Gluzman brought the second movement to life with a gutsy sound, and a push-pull of phrasing, like breathing. In the virtuosic third movement, he pulled out all his impressive technical tricks: double-stops, harmonics, and more, but all in the service of the music. Incredible.

My non-musician intern sat in on the rehearsal with me, and observed that hearing an orchestra live really IS a completely different experience from listening to a recording, noting with surprise that there’s so much more to see and hear, and so much more subtlety.

October 22, 2009

What makes Vadim Gluzman tick, plus his love affair with his violin...

In preparing to have Vadim Gluzman perform with us, we learned all kinds of fascinating things about him, as a musician and as a person. Here's a quick q&a that will give you an inkling of what makes this violinist tick:

1. What is your musical background, and how did you discover your passion for music?

I grew up in a musical family, my parents are music teachers, so it was only a matter of time until I said that I wanted to study music - I must have been about 6 at the time. But it took some years for me to realize that music is my life, it is who I am.

2. Please describe the relationship with your most influential mentor.

I would not be able to pinpoint only one - throughout my life I was incredibly fortunate to have a number of wonderful teachers and mentors. Arkady Fomin, my teacher in Dallas, TX who became more than just a teacher - a friend, a family member, to whom I am always grateful
for believing in me and helping be to become the musician and the person that I am today
Dorothy DeLay, with whom I studied at Juilliard - a true Grand Dame of violin pedagogy, she could find a "key" to the most difficult "locks." And last, but not least is Isaac Stern - I was privileged to have a chance to play for this great man number of times in Israel and in the US and each and every one of these meetings will stay in my memory and in my playing forever.

3. You will be playing Sibelius' Violin Concerto; what does it feel like to play it? What do you suggest people listen for in each of the movements?

Saga... Epos... are the words that come to mind when I think of Sibelius' music in general and of his violin concerto in particular. So grandiose, yet so intimate at moments, this piece is one of the most challenging both physically and emotionally in the violin literature, at the same time one of the most rewarding. It stands as a grand example, really one of the pinnacles of romantic writing in the violin concerto genre.

4. Your violin is an extraordinary 1690 Ex-Leopold Auer Stradivari. What sets apart this particular instrument from other violins? What do you love about it?

I have been fortunate to play this incredible violin for over a decade now thanks to the generosity of the Stradivari Society of Chicago. After all this time the instrument and I have formed a very close bond. So, describing it is rather difficult - it is almost as impossible as describing the woman that you love... The 'Ex-Auer' has a truly remarkable low register where it sounds so rich and dark that it sometimes reminds me of viola and it's high register is so incredibly penetrating that I often hear questions after a concert if I was miked... (I never am...:) )

5. Have you ever been to Rochester? In addition to performing with the RPO, do you have any other plans while you’re here?

This will be my first visit to Rochester, so I am very much looking forward to working with the wonderful RPO and Maestro Seaman!Besides that, I was hoping (time permitting of course) to make a trip to the Corning Glass Museum and perhaps to some of the NY wineries - I have heard about Swedish Hill and Goose Watch. But of course, Sibelius and my concerts with RPO are the most important, and then for my upcoming European tour I will be "visiting" with some old friends like Schubert, Franck, Korngold, and Brahms. So, my dreams of being a "tourist" in Rochester may very well only remain dreams this time...

October 21, 2009

Does Violinist Vadim Gluzman Have Multiple Personalities?

On his web site, violinist Vadim Gluzman responds to the question, “So, where do you come from?” with this: “Born in the Ukraine; Israeli (and proud of it); living in New York.”

This got me to thinking about how each of us has “multiple personalities,” and how the place we live affects how we view ourselves, and how we are viewed by others. For instance, I’ve spent more than half of my life in New England, lived in Europe as a child and then during a year abroad, and now call upstate New York home. Each of those places has shaped my perspective.

Gluzman comes to Rochester next week to debut with the RPO in Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. As a teenager in Israel, he met the renowned violinist Isaac Stern, who became his lifelong mentor.

And we’re in for an extra-special treat—Gluzman plays the extraordinary 1690 ex-Leopold Auer Stradivarius violin, loaned to him by the Stradivari Society of Chicago. If you’ve seen the movie The Red Violin, you’ll know that the older instruments have a special sound all their own. Visit Gluzman’s web site to learn more about his violin: www.vadimgluzman.com/

Click here for more information about this concert.

October 14, 2009

Rochester City Ballet Dancers Featured in Glamour Magazine

Former Rochester City Ballet members Luis Ribagorda and Sarah Lane – both now with American Ballet Theatre – were recently featured in Glamour Magazine in an article on the secrets of happy couples. Read on for their interview.

Luis and Sarah will be returning to Rochester next month for the annual Nutcracker, as Cavalier and Sugar Plum Fairy, respectively.

And—NEW this year!—Nutcracker children’s tickets … starting at $10!
Click here for more information.

It's faith!
Luis Ribagorda, 25, corps de ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Sarah Lane, 25, soloist, American Ballet Theatre; married two years

SL: I broke up with him about 5 million times. I grew up in a very Christian, controlled family. He's a laid-back Catholic. I wasn't sure it could work. Finally I realized I was happier, more myself, when I was with him. So we got married. It's not that common for two dancers.

LR: We are together most of the hours of the day, and the ballet world is very intense. We fight a lot.

SL: But not about big things anymore!

LR: And when we get to dance together, the intensity becomes absolutely amazing.

(Glamour Magazine, August 5, 2009)

October 7, 2009

Ribbon Cutting Christens Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre

This afternoon, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester officially named Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Numerous local dignitaries—including our own Charlie Owens and Christopher Seaman—were on hand to cut the ribbon. (Christopher Seaman pictured here next to Assemblyman David Gantt, holding a piece of the ribbon.)

Here's a view from the mezzanine level box seats, with the Eastman Philharmonia on stage rehearsing for an upcoming concert.

Dawn and Jacques Lipson and Richard and Gwen Sterns try out the box seats on the Orchestra level.

Tomorrow night's RPO festivities to inaugurate Kodak Hall include a gala Red Carpet Spectacular (sold out), the red carpet walk beginning at 7:30 pm, and the 8:30 pm concert. Former RPO Principal Timpanist John Beck will lead the red carpet procession playing a historic snare drum that was played to announce the Star Spangled Banner in September 1922.

October 6, 2009

Orchestra Has First Rehearsal at Kodak Hall

This morning, the Orchestra had its first rehearsal in the newly renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Today was a test run—giving Christopher and the musicians a chance to fine tune the acoustics as they played a selection of excerpts.

We have a select few seats left for the Thursday and Saturday concerts—but a greater choice of tickets is available for the Sunday matinee. Click here for more concert information.

October 1, 2009

One Week to Opening of Kodak Hall

In just one week, the doors will open on the newly renovated Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre's for the RPO's historic inaugural season.

We have a select few seats left for the Thursday and Saturday concerts - but tickets still remain for the Sunday matinee. The concert features Beethoven's Ninth and the world premiere of Geo by Doug Lowry, Dean of the Eastman School of Music. Click here for more concert information.