Two women lead our opening concert of the season. Violinist Elissa Lee Koljonen makes her WCO debut with Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy, and Florence Price’s Symphony No. 1 in E minor closes the concert. An early nineteenth century work by Felix Mendelssohn titled The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave) Overture, Op.26 sets the stage.
MENDELSSOHN | The Hebrides Overture
BRUCH | Scottish Fantasy
PRICE | Symphony No. 1 in E minor
RUN TIME: 1 HR 45 MINUTES
“Two American Masters” features two extraordinary women musicians. Composer Florence Price wrote her Symphony No.1 in E minor, in 1932. It’s the first of four symphonies she composed between 1932 and 1945. An impressive, muscular work, in a late Romantic style, it was first performed in 1933 with the Chicago Symphony under Frederick Stock. Violinist Elissa Lee Koljonen makes her WCO debut with Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. This is a reunion of sorts, Koljonen and Maestro Sewell having first worked together in the late 1990s in Toledo and Wichita. We open the program with Felix Mendelssohn’s early nineteenth century The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave) Overture, Op. 26. Mendelssohn traveled to Scotland in 1829 and followed up that experience with a concert overture describing in music, his visit and journey. Written in 1830, the result was a standalone programmatic overture with the opening cello line resembling the rocking motion of the waves while the high strings emulate seabirds on the wing. It is among Mendelssohn’s most popular works and sets the stage for the Scottish Fantasy by Max Bruch to follow.
Recognized as one of the most celebrated violinists of her generation, Elissa Lee Koljonen has thrilled audiences and critics in over one hundred cities throughout the world. Ms. Koljonen initially received international acclaim when she became the first recipient of the prestigious Henryk Szeryng Foundation Award and silver medalist of the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition. Her playing has been hailed by the Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki) as “sparkling, sensual and personal.” Dan Tucker of the Chicago Tribune has written that “she displayed boundless technique and musicianship.”
Ms. Koljonen’s engagements have included a return to the Philadelphia Orchestra to perform the Shostakovich Violin Concerto #1, her debut in Spain with James Judd and the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, performances with José-Luis Novo and the orchestras in Annapolis and Binghamton, the Delaware Symphony, Reading Symphony, the Kimmel Center’s Summer Solstice and the Philadelphia premiere of Behzad Ranjbaran’s Violin Concerto with JoAnn Falletta. She has also made appearances with the Boston Pops, Minnesota Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic and the symphonies of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Helsinki and Seoul. Ms. Koljonen has collaborated with such noted conductors as Mattias Bamert, James DePriest, Lawrence Foster, Richard Hickox, Neeme Järvi, Louis Lane, Andrew Litton, Eiji Oue and the late Bryden Thompson.
She has performed in some of the world’s most important venues, including the Musikverein in Vienna, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Barbican Centre in London, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Seoul Arts Center, the Symphony Hall in Boston, and the Academy of Music and Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Also an avid chamber musician, Ms. Koljonen appears regularly at festivals throughout North America, Europe and Asia. She garnered critical acclaim for her debut at the Queen Elisabeth Hall in London and her appearances with the London Mozart Players and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo in a special concert celebrating the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi Dynasty.
Ms. Koljonen is a protégée of the great Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute of Music. Incorporating his influence, she carries on the legacy and tradition of Leopold Auer and his legendary school of violin playing.
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