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Benjamin Beilman returns for Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto

Thursday Mar 16, 2017 • Press Release • Spokesman Review

Symphony Honors Elizabeth Welty, M.D. and Kendall Feeney

contact: Jane Cody 509-464-7074

SPOKANE— The Spokane Symphony’s “The Russian Soul” concert, conducted by Music Director Eckart Preu, will see the return of American violinist Benjamin Beilman on Saturday, March 25 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 26 at 3 p.m. at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox. The virtuoso violinist will perform Tchaikovsky’s fiendishly difficult Violin Concerto. The program also includes Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9, a favorite among musicians. Preu will open the concert with Albinoni’s moving Adagio for Organ and Strings in tribute to two remarkable women who made great contributions to Spokane’s musical community: Dr. Elizabeth Welty, longtime benefactor of the Spokane Symphony, and Kendall Feeney, keyboardist for the orchestra.

Both performances include a talk one hour before curtain time that is free to all ticket holders. 

Benjamin Beilman is recognized as one of the fastest rising stars of his generation, winning praise in both North America and Europe for his passionate performances and deep rich tone. Two years ago, when he performed Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with the Spokane Symphony, he was rewarded with a standing ovation at the end of the first movement. In part, this was due to the artist’s extraordinary mastery of the technical challenges, leaving him free to focus on expression and interpretation. His blend of virtuosity and passion are an excellent match to the challenges of Tchaikovsky’s legendary concerto. More 

Preu originally planned that Tchaikovsky’s concerto would be the centerpiece of a program of Russian works. The originally scheduled Kararinskaya by Glinka has been replaced with Albinoni’s Adagio as a tribute to Feeney. The Glinka work is scheduled to be performed next season. The program concludes with Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony, composed in the wake of WWII, a delightful work that countered all expectations. It is small in scale, rather than a monumental work in the tradition of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; filled with humor instead of the heroism commanded by Stalin.    

The concert honors the memory of Dr. Elizabeth Welty, longtime friend and supporter of both the orchestra and the theater. Preu called Welty a model citizen for the 21st century “…who understood that the arts play a substantial role in education and quality of life. [She] followed through with both financial, spiritual, and organizational help.” He included one of her favorite pieces, the "Anvil Chorus" from Verdi’s Il Travatore, on the program of the season opener last September, shortly after her death. “The Russian Soul” is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Welty in recognition to her generous financial support of the Spokane Symphony. 

The concert will also honor Kendall Feeney, symphony keyboardist and occasional guest soloist, who passed away earlier this month. The nationally recognized pianist and music educator was a beloved and respected member of the orchestra community. Her treasured piano is being donated to the Spokane Symphony. 

The Music

Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio for Organ and Strings in G minor was supposedly adapted by Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto from a manuscript fragment he discovered in 1945 in while completing his biography on the composer. The work has enjoyed great popularity and has been featured in a number of films, including Gallipoli, The Trial and Rollerball. It was also played at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.      

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Opus 35 has become one of the most popular of all violin concertos, but it did not begin that way. Tchaikovsky first approached Leopold Auer, the renowned violinist and concertmaster of the Imperial Orchestra in St. Petersburg, to première the concerto, but Auer pronounced it “almost impossible to play.” Three years later, it premièred in Vienna, where it was panned by the critics. But the critics disliked most is what makes the Concerto so appealing today: its athletic energy, unabashed romanticism and rousing Slavic finale. Violinist Benjamin Beilman has the technical chops to master the difficulties of the piece, from the wistful slow movement to the flamboyant finale. 

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in E-flat major, Opus 70 was composed in 1945 during a time of optimism in the wake of the WWII victory. The Soviet authorities decreed that artists should celebrate the victory with triumphal paeans and praises of Stalin. Shostakovich, however, saw things differently: tens of millions were dead, the world was in chaos, and the apparatchiks were still in control. His studiously apolitical Ninth Symphony is thoroughly engaging and unpretentious, filled with lighthearted sarcasm and musical wit.

Ticket Information:

Tickets are available with personalized service in advance at the Box Office at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, 1001 W. Sprague, or by calling 509-624-1200. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.spokanesymphony.org. Tickets are also available at all TicketsWest outlets or by calling 1-800-325-SEAT.

This concert is in memory of Dr. Elizabeth M. Welty. 

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