At 1:30 p.m. today, Fletcher Music Hall will be filled with the sound of violin students delivering a series of riveting solo performances.
This afternoon’s show kicks off a series of recitals put on by the School of Music, with today’s opera and violin concerts to be followed by a percussion ensemble on Friday, viola and cello recitals on Saturday, two violin recitals and a bass performance on Sunday, and a combined performance by woodwind, brass, percussion and harp students on Monday.
“Not all summer programs give the students the opportunity to play a solo piece,” said Aaron Berofsky, chair of the Strings Department at the School of Music. “This is kind of a nice thing that we didn’t always use to do here at Chautauqua. We’ve been doing studio recitals for the past few years, and I think the students really enjoy having that chance to perform.”
The violin students have been rehearsing their respective pieces since the beginning of the season, meeting with Berofsky once a week to prepare for tonight’s show.
“Many of them I was meeting for the first time, or working with for the first time at the beginning of the festival,” he said. “Some people are bringing back old repertoire that they really want to have a chance to perform again, some people are doing … brand new things that they’ve never played before.”
“It’s very rewarding working with him,” said Gabriella Foster, one of the violinists who will be taking the stage this afternoon. “He’s very knowledgeable.”
Foster will be performing French composer Olivier Messiaen’s “Thème et Variations,” with resident collaborative pianist Akiko Konishi.
“It was written during a period where (Messiaen) was developing his own compositional style, but it hadn’t quite blossomed yet,” Foster said.
She is particularly fond of Messaien’s work because he experienced synesthesia, a condition that allowed him to sense colors and textures associated with different musical melodies.
“You get a taste of his own unique color palette in the piece. … He’s well-known for these massive cosmic endings,” Foster said.
She will be joined this afternoon by 11 of her fellow students as they each deliver a solo performance, some with piano and some unaccompanied.
“It’s a fun program with a lot of pieces, some familiar and some more unfamiliar,” Foster said. “It represents a lot of our own personalities.”
Rachel Lawton and Amelia Posner-Hess will be performing two different Bach works to start the afternoon, followed by Noah Ghosh playing Camille Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A Minor, Op. 28.
“It has been very rewarding to see them have this goal, and in a relatively short period of time put these things together on top of all the other musical things they’re doing this summer,” Berofsky said. “I feel like every one of them is really taking it seriously, having a good time preparing.”
Next will be Valerie Xu-Friedman delivering a piece by Niccolo Paganini, then Noah Arcenas performing Eugene Ysaye’s Sonata for Solo Violin Op. 27, No. 3. Nora Wang and Caroline Cornell are then set to collaborate with pianist Konishi on two movements of Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47.
“They’re all kind of bite-sized, easy to prepare and digest compared to a half-hour concerto,” said Berofsky. “It’s just a showcase of each student’s talent.”
Gabriel Roth will take the stage next to perform “Bleu” by George Walker, an African American composer from the 20th century.
Roth’s recital choice “is a fantastic piece but very hard music,” Berofsky said. “I’m really proud of him that he could have just gone back to something familiar, but he’s going to perform this for the first time.”
Roth will be followed first by Foster’s performance of the Messaien piece, then Eric Yun and Ravel’s “Tzigane.” After, Jaewon Jun will work with pianist Shannon Hesse to perform another movement from the Saint-Saens piece, and then the afternoon will draw to a close with Evan Schuman’s rendition of Henri Wienawski’s “Polonaise de Concert,” Op. 4.
“Overall, it’s just been a great group of students that seem to get along with each other,” Berofsky said. “Hopefully, it’ll just be a fun way to finish off the solo part of their season.”