March 1, 2012

Juliana Athayde Discusses Barber's Violin Concerto

This weekend's program features Brahms's Tragic Overture and Symphony No. 4, as well as Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto, performed by RPO concertmaster Juliana Athayde (The Caroline W. Gannett and Clayla Ward Chair); below, Juliana discusses her thoughts on this concerto, the special memories that it evokes, and more:

My earliest memory of the Barber violin concerto is from thirty years ago, when I was just one year old playing in the playpen as my mom taught the piece to one of her violin students. Of course I don't actually remember being in the playpen but this particular piece has always held special meaning for me and it feels like an old friend, a piece I have always known. I truly remember it as one of the first pieces of music I ever heard, sounding familiar and comforting, and playing it brings back wonderful memories. I am delighted to share this wonderful concerto with RPO audiences this weekend.

The first two movements are full of gorgeous melodies, passionate moments, and tranquil themes. Notably, the second movement features a beautiful oboe solo, which will be played by my husband Erik Behr, introducing the enchanting melody later given to the solo violin. The last movement is a furious perpetual motion, meaning that the tempo is fast and the notes are constant! In the entire movement (spanning five pages of music) I have fewer than thirty measures of rest! This movement sounds at times fun and lighthearted while at other moments menacing and intense. The race to the end of the movement is topped off with a final flourish as if to say "ta-da"!

I hope the RPO patrons will love listening to the piece as much as I love playing it. This concerto is particularly accessible to listeners, especially the first two movements with their romantic and sweeping melodies. The sheer intensity and excitement of the final movement is enough to get everyone's heart pumping!


Hear Juliana perform Barber's Violin Concerto with the RPO, Thursday March 1 and Saturday March 3 in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Click here for tickets, or call 454-2100.