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SOUTHEASTERN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA FANFARE CONCERT
TO FEATURE ACCLAIMED VIOLINIST
HAMMOND – Under the direction of Yakov
Voldman, Southeastern Louisiana University’s acclaimed Chamber Orchestra
will perform selections by Bizet’s “Carmen” and welcome world-renowned
violin soloist Ilya Kaler in a Fanfare festival concert Oct. 25 at the
Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Voldman said the pieces for the free
concert, scheduled for 7 p.m., “were chosen around the theme “Beauty and
“Each composition,” he said, “evokes
an aspect of one or the other of the contrasting images the theme suggests.”
Carmen, he said, is one of opera’s favorite characters, a strong-minded,
independent and erotic beauty. Some 19th century audiences wondered if
Paganini’s awe-inspiring technical skill came from a beastly pack with
The 50-member orchestra will open the
program with “Carmen” and Bizet’s “Le’arlesienne Suites.”
The character of Carmen, Voldman said,
was controversial in Georges Bizet’s 19th century world. “Carmen belies
the timid, weak, compliant role that women of Bizet’s time were expected
to fill,” he said.
Bizet’s composition initially was a failure and the depressed composer
died days after its inauspicious premiere. “He probably would have been
pleased and perhaps shocked to learn his work became one of the most famous,
most beloved, most often performed operas in history,” Voldman said.
He said the “Carmen Suites Nos. 1 and 2” are compilations of some the opera’s
most memorable tunes, including the Habañera, and the Toreador song.
Bizet composed “L’arlesienne Suites
Nos. 1 and 2” to accompany the scenes of Alphonse Daudet’s 1872 play by
the same name. The music’s folk-like melodies evoke the atmosphere of the
play’s Provençal setting.
“The play flopped, but the incidental
music became popular,” Voldman said.
The concert’s second half will spotlight
Kaler, who is returning to the Columbia stage for a second appearance with
the Chamber Orchestra. The only composer ever to win gold medals at the
Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and Paganini competitions, Kaler will perform Paganini’s
“Violin Concerto No. 2.”
Voldman said the performance will mark
a first in Louisiana. The piece, he said, “is a wonderful example of combining
technical virtuosity with theatrical melodrama in music. It demands a flawless
technique and a flair for showmanship.”
“To many of his contemporaries, Nicolo
Paganini was quite a beast,” Voldman said. “He was the 19th century equivalent
of a rock star, the epitome of the virtuoso-performer/composer. He wove
intoxicatingly strong spells on his audiences. Some listeners thought he
had certainly made a pact with the devil.
“He had even refused to have his violin
blessed with holy water fearing the water might destroy his instrument,”
Voldman said. “In return, upon his death, the Catholic Church refused to
grant him a Christian burial, and for years Paganini’s son traveled around
Europe with the corpse.”
Voldman said Paganini’s genius was
to model his music after Italian opera. “He treats the violin like a human
voice. At points the violin almost ‘speaks,’” he said.
Kaler is already being compared to
the likes of violinists Heifetz and Perlman. His recordings of works by
composers such as Paganini, Schumann, Shostakovich, and Dvorak have met
with equally universal acclaim. “The Washington Post” unabashedly lauds
him as, "a consummate musician” who is “in total control at all times,
with a peerless mastery of his violin."
Kaler has earned rave reviews for solo
appearances with distinguished orchestras throughout the world. He has
performed with the Leningrad, Moscow, and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras,
the Montreal Symphony, the Danish and Berlin Radio Orchestras, and the
Moscow and Zurich Chamber Orchestras, among others. His solo recitals have
taken him throughout Europe, Scandinavia, East Asia, and the former Soviet
Union and he has performed with the Detroit, Baltimore, and Seattle Symphony
Orchestras, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Also an active chamber musician, Kaler
has performed for several summers at the Newport Music Festival in Newport,
Rhode Island. He is professor of violin at the DePaul University School
of Music in Chicago.