Read more about the upcoming Cape Ann Symphony season opener:
CAPE ANN SYMPHONY
THE 71st SEASON
Yoichi Udagawa, Music Director
THE BIG THREE: MOZART, BEETHOVEN & TCHAIKOVSKY
Violin Virtuoso Victor Romanul Makes Cape Ann Symphony Debut in Tchaikovsky’s “Unplayable” Violin Concerto
Cape Ann Symphony’s 71st Concert Season opens on Sunday, October 2 at 2:00 pm at the Manchester-Essex High School Auditorium on 36 Lincoln Street in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA featuring The Big Three: Mozart, Beethoven & Tchaikovsky.
The concert program for The Big Three: Mozart, Beethoven & Tchaikovsky features Mozart’s Magic Flute Overature, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Boston Symphony Orchestra violinist Victor Romanul making his CAS debut playing Tchaikovsky’s “unplayable” Violin Concerto.
Cape Ann Symphony Music Director and Conductor Yoichi Udagawa looks forward to this challenging program to open the season,
“This program features three ground breaking pieces written by three of the world’s greatest composers! Mozart’s Magic Flute is one of the greatest operas ever written. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, one of the best-known compositions in classical music and one of the most often played symphonies. Beethoven’s iconic four note opening motif has become one of the most recognizable motifs in classical music. As for Tchaikovsky’s “unplayable” Violin Concerto, audiences will see and hear that in the hands of our guest artist Victor Romanul this concerto is exquisitely “playable”! Victor Romanul is an amazing violinist, and incredible musician. This will be his first appearance with us at the Cape Ann Symphony, and I can hardly wait for our audiences to hear him. Please do not miss his performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto!”
Violinist Victor Romanul currently holds the Bessie Pappas Violin Chair in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He served as the BSO’s assistant concertmaster from 1993 to 1995. He has performed with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players for the Beethoven Septet. As a soloist, he was named in “Best of Boston” in 1997 by the Boston Globe. Composer John Williams wrote a violin-viola duo, Duo Concertante for Romanul and Violist Michael Zaretsky, to whom the Duo is dedicated. Mr. Romanul recently completed a three-year tenure as concertmaster of the Ars Poetica Chamber Orchestra, based in Detroit and made up of outstanding players from major U.S. orchestras.
Mr. Romanul started performing at the age of 7. His Grandmother, Stella Roman(ul) was a leading dramatic soprano at the Metropolitan Opera, and at the La Scala theatre in Milan, where she was hand-picked by Richard Strauss for the title role of Empress for his premiere there of Die Frau ohne Schatten. Mr. Romanul, along with his three brothers traveled and performed extensively as the Romanul Quartet. After studying with Ivan Galamian, Joseph Silverstein, and Jascha Heifetz, he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony as a second violinist at the age of 21. During his first week there he won the position of Associate Concertmaster, remaining for six years.
The father of five children, now grown, he enjoys performing many obscure, and fascinating works, hidden violin gems of composers such as Paganini, Sauret, Vieuxtemps, Tarrega, Reger, Westhoff, Matteis, Leon de Saint-Lubin, Agusta Read Thomas, Alard, and Loccatelli among others. He often performs as soloist with orchestra, with over 50 concerti in his repertoire. Performances of the Dvorak, Korngold, Beethoven, Bruch, Brahms Double, Vivaldi Seasons, Bach violin-oboe Double, Saint-Saens #3, and others dot his schedule. Projects such as performances of all the Beethoven Sonatas at the Goethe Institute, or of the complete Ysaye or Bach Sonatas in one concert and several performances of the complete 24 caprices of Paganini, are commonplace.
Mr. Romanul has given master classes at many schools throughout the country including Northwestern, Columbia, Oberlin and SUNY Stony Brook as well as for the Fellows at the Tanglewood Music Center. He has served as a coach for the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra and the New England Conservatory Preparatory orchestras.
Tchaikovsky wrote his only Violin Concerto in March 1878 with the help of his friend Josif Kotek, one of his students at the Moscow Conservatory. Tchaikovsky would write a passage and Kotek would play it, giving Tchaikovsky, who did not play the violin, feedback regarding violin technique. The masterpiece that emerged would become one of the most beloved violin concertos in history despite Tchaikovsky’s struggles to premiere the piece and negative reviews.
Tchaikovsky dedicated the violin concerto to the Hungarian violinist Leopold Auer, but Auer rejected the piece as unplayable. The premiere finally took place in Vienna in 1881 when the violinist Adolph Brodsky decided that the unplayable was playable after all. The audience loved it, but the critics were not impressed.
Renowned critic, Eduard Hanslick wrote
“The Russian composer Tchaikovsky is surely not an ordinary talent, but rather an inflated one, with a genius-obsession without discrimination or taste. Such is also his latest, long and pretentious Violin Concerto. For a while it moves soberly, musically, and not without spirit. But soon vulgarity gains the upper hand, and asserts itself to the end of the first movement. The violin is no longer played; it is pulled, torn, drubbed. The Adagio . . . soon breaks off to make way for a finale that transfers us to a brutal and wretched jollity of a Russian holiday. We see plainly the savage vulgar faces, we hear curses, we smell vodka. . . Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto gives us for the first time the hideous notion that there can be music that stinks to the ear.”
Tchaikovsky memorized Hanslick’s review and could quote it for the rest of his life. Fortunately, Hanslick’s opinion didn’t seem to matter, as Brodsky was in demand all over the country to perform the concerto and the piece has been a mainstay ever since.
About Cape Ann Symphony
Founded in Gloucester in 1951, the Cape Ann Symphony is a professional orchestra of over 70 players from throughout the New England area. They perform a subscription season of four concerts per year plus several Pops and youth concerts. The Symphony Board of Directors named Yoichi Udagawa the Music Director and Conductor of the Cape Ann Symphony in the summer of 2000 after a yearlong search. In addition to his leadership of Cape Ann Symphony, he is Music Director and Conductor of the Melrose Symphony Orchestra, and the Quincy Symphony Orchestra and a cover conductor at the Boston Pops Orchestra. Maestro Udagawa is on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory where he teaches conducting. Frequently invited to guest conduct, Maestro Udagawa has worked with many different orchestras including the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, Nobeoka Philharmonic Orchestra, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra, the Indian Hill Symphony, the Garden State Philharmonic, the Brown University Orchestra, the Syracuse Society for New Music, the Boston Conservatory Orchestra, the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra, the Newton Symphony, the Austin Civic Orchestra, and the Mid-Texas Symphony. Maestro Udagawa is at home in popular and contemporary music as well as the standard symphonic repertoire. He is known for his relaxed manner and ability to speak from the podium which has helped new audiences as well as enthusiasts gain a greater appreciation for symphonic music. His programs often include premieres of new works – some specially commissioned for the orchestra — as well as great orchestral works across the symphonic repertoire and lively Pops programs. He is also an integral part of the Cape Ann Symphony Youth Initiative.
Yoichi Udagawa, the son of a nuclear physicist father and singer/artist mother, was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1964. His family immigrated to the United States soon thereafter. He began playing the violin at age four and made his conducting debut at age fifteen. After receiving a music degree from the University of Texas at Austin, he continued advanced studies in conducting with Gunther Schuller, Seiji Ozawa, Morihiro Okabe, and Henry Charles Smith. A fan of many different styles of music, Mr. Udagawa also enjoys performing gospel music in addition to his conducting activities. He is also an accomplished violinist and an avid fan of exercise and yoga.
The Big Three: Mozart, Beethoven & Tchaikovsky is Sunday, October 2 at 2:00 pm at the Manchester-Essex High School Auditorium on 36 Lincoln Street in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA . Single ticket prices are $45 for adults, $40 for senior citizens, $20 for students of any age; $5 for youth 12 years old and under. Season subscriptions are available. For information or tickets, call 978-281-0543 or visit www.capeannsymphony.org
Pictured: Guest Artist Victor Romanul
Pictured: Cape Ann Symphony Music Director and Conductor Yoichi Udagawa Photo Credit Jeph Ellis