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Music: ‘Folly and Fate’

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Submitted Photo YooJin Jang is one of the best violin virtuosos of this generation and is looking forward to performing for the first time in Roswell with the Roswell Symphony Orchestra kicking off its 60th season.

Roswell Symphony Orchestra concert kicks off 60th season

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The Roswell Symphony Orchestra begins its 60th season with the concert “Folly & Fate,” featuring violinist YooJin Jang. The concert is performed at New Mexico Military Institute’s Pearson Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The concert’s title is fitting as it includes Gioachino Rossini’s “Overture” to the “Barber of Seville.” The famous music is one of the most popular and well-recognized melodies in opera, probably because of its “swashbuckling” surge and vigor. However, according to legend, the “Overture” was originally composed for an earlier opera, Aureliano in Palmira. The same overture was so loved by Rossini that he allegedly recycled it two more times, before putting it — and leaving it — in the hands of the good barber Figaro.

For fans of classical music, it may be of interest that this comedic opera was actually commissioned when Rossini was only 24 years old. He put it together with breakneck speed in less than three weeks. He didn’t only compose the opera, but also had to write, cast and have it ready for stage. That may very well be the reason for his “recycling” of the “Overture.” His biggest handicap was that the story itself was based on Pierre Beaumarchais’ “Figaro” — and it had been already created as a popular opera by Giovanni Paisiello four years prior. The public was not happy about this “remake” and it opened under loud protests from the passionate Italian audience in 1816 at Teatro Argentina in Rome, Italy. The opera was a flop, but history proved Rossini’s genius. Despite the harsh birth of the opera and the “recycling,” the “Overture” and Rossini’s opera is considered one of opera’s greatest comedic masterpieces.

Guest violinist YooJin Jang is going to perform Maurice Ravel’s “Tzigane” and Camille Saint-Saens’ “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.”

Jang is considered to be one of the new generation’s brightest young string virtuosos. She has been praised for her “fiery virtuosity” and “sensitive interpretation” of classics. In a phone interview, Jang talked about her upbringing and love for the violin.

“I grew up in (South) Korea and started violin when I was 5,” she said. “It is not a special story, but my dad is a classical music fan, and I had a chance to learn an instrument in kindergarten. I was just a small kid so my parents thought a violin would be perfect for me. I fell in love with music and violin and that is how I started.”

Asked why she chose the classic music, Jang said, “Honestly, I don’t know much about other kinds of music. I think, when I was young, my influence was my dad’s love for classical music. I literally grew up with classical music 24/7. It makes me relax and (it’s) emotional. The instrumental music has its own strong power and its own emotion.”

Jang, known as a soloist, when asked what her favorite part is of being with an orchestra such as the RSO, she said, “I actually love chamber music. I have been playing for more than 10 years. I think playing with an orchestra is just another level, making music together on the stage, and with that group of people creating the sound and the varied range of dramatic music. That is just so special, that’s why I love playing with other musicians. If it’s chamber music or orchestra, it is very special for me.”

Asked about her performance, Jang said this is the first time she is going to play Ravel’s “Tzigane.” “It is interesting and exciting for me,” she said. “It is a pretty popular repertoire, but I never had the chance to play it and with the orchestra, it is going to be very exciting. I am looking forward to it. ‘Cappriccioso’ is something I have played many times and it is my favorite virtuoso violin music because it is hard to learn. It is not just technical and fast, but it has such charm and rhythm. It is one of the most beautiful short pieces. I am looking forward to it.”

Staying on top in her art takes a lot of practice, which can be difficult on tour. “I used to practice much more,” Jang said. “I used to practice for competitions five to six hours every day. I try whenever I can, about four to five hours a day.”

This is the first time Jang is visiting the area and she said she is looking forward to it.

Jang is a doctoral student of Miriam Fried at the New England Conservatory; a former prize winner at the Menuhin, Seoul, South Korea; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Michael Hill International Violin Competitions and 2017 Concert Artists Guild Competition. She was awarded first prize at the 2013 Munetsugu Angel and 2016 Sendai International Violin Competitions in Japan. Her recent solo debuts include performances with the KBS Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Sendai Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonic, Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Bulgaria National Radio Symphony Orchestra, NEC Philharmonia and the Exremadura Orchestra.

The background of the pieces Jang is going to perform fits to the theme of the concert as well. “Tzigane” came to be when Ravel heard a young Hungarian violin virtuoso, Jelly D’Aranyi, in concert in London. Following the performance, Ravel spent the remainder of the evening requesting D’Aranyi to play numerous gypsy tunes on her violin, probing her on the technical limits of the instrument. The result of this encounter is Ravel’s virtuoso classic “Tzigane.” Written originally for violin and piano or luthéal (a mechanism invented in 1919 that attaches to a piano, producing a sound similar to the rich overtones of the Cimbalon), the premiere took place in London in April 1924.

Saint-Saens “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso,” also has an interesting background. Saint-Saens wrote the piece for violin in 1863, even though he did not play the instrument. It shows the genius of the former child prodigy, who learned to read and write by the age of 3, spoke Latin by the time he was 7, composed his first piano piece at 4 years old and had his first public appearance accompanying a Beethoven violin sonata when he was 5 years old. Later, he became an expert mathematician, author and created music, as he said “the way an apple tree produces apples.”

One of the highlights of the evening is the performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 4.” And oh, what folly this piece has as background. It was first performed Feb. 22, 1878 in Moscow. Tchaikovsky created it out of an emotional crisis — a crisis caused by his love for one woman and marrying another. His first 14-year lasting platonic relationship (in letters) was with a wealthy widow, Nadezhda von Meck, who provided him to share his feelings. All personal contact was avoided, a relationship of fantasy. The second woman was Antonina Milyukova, who claimed to have met him as a student. He first rejected her offer of love, but married her shortly after — two months later he attempted suicide. Fortunately, he recovered. The premiere of the symphony took place the following February to mixed reviews, but he provided another, a “private” program for von Meck.

For more information, visit roswellsymphony.org or call 575-623-5882.