Classically Trained: The value of a violin

The Pacific Symphony continues with its "Year of the Violin" programming next week with a series highlighted by virtuoso Vadim Gluzman.

The Israeli violinist will be playing Tchaikovsky's venerable Violin Concerto in D major for the concerts on Feb. 23 to 25 in Costa Mesa's Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. All the performances under Carl St.Clair's baton begin at 8 p.m.

There will also be a 7 p.m. pre-concert lecture with Alan Chapman each evening.

An added layer of complexity to this concert is that Gluzman will be playing on a Stradivarius violin made in 1690 that belonged to Leopold Auer, the influential Hungarian violinist whom Tchaikovsky dedicated his Violin Concerto to.

A video interview with St.Clair posted on the Pacific Symphony website notes this. St.Clair describes his elation when first hearing Gluzman play the same Stradivarius that inspired the great Russian composer to write such a compelling piece.

Interestingly enough, history tells us that Auer was less than enthusiastic about the concerto that today is a staple of orchestral programming. He felt it to be uncharacteristic to his idea of what the violin should be. As it were, Auer was not the first to perform the concerto, though years later he did take it up, albeit adding some changes to it that he felt were necessary.

Still, it's safe to say that hearing a Stradivarius played by a master is always divine, but to hear a violin concerto played on the violin that inspired its writing is yet another level of divinity.

Also on the program are two premieres by American composer Michael Daugherty.

"The Gospel According to Sister Aimee" will have its world premiere, while "Radio City (2011) for Orchestra: Symphonic Fantasy on Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra" will be having its first U.S. performance.

"Sister Aimee" was co-commissioned by the Pacific Symphony and San Diego State. Written for organ, brass and percussion, it is a "musical portrait of the rise, fall and redemption of Aimee Semple McPherson (1890 – 1944), the first important religious celebrity of the new mass-media era of the 1930s," according to a symphony press release. The featured organist on the work is Paul Jacobs, who will also be performing a postlude.

"Radio City" was co-commissioned by the Pacific Symphony and the MITO SettembreMusica, an annual music festival in Italy that brings together the cities of Milan and Turin.

In the program notes, Daugherty describes "Radio City" as a "musical fantasy on Arturo Toscanini, who conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in radio broadcasts at Rockefeller Center in New York City from 1937 to 1954 ... under his baton the NBC Symphony was heard by millions of listeners, and through his radio broadcasts and recordings, Maestro Toscanini became a household name in America."

Lastly, the symphony will be playing the saddest piece of them all, yet also one of the most beautiful: Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings."

Tickets to the series start at $25. For more information, call (714) 755-5799 or visit

BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. Email him story ideas at

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World