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University of Chicago Sophomore Frank Wen Performs Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor with University Symphony Orchestra

11-24-2010 01:14 PM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: University of Chicago Department of Music

Art: Big Ben by Andre Derain

Art: Big Ben by Andre Derain

CHICAGO, Hyde Park -- University of Chicago sophomore Frank Wen, co-winner of the 2010 Concerto Competition, appears with the University Symphony Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s melodious Violin Concerto in E minor on Saturday, December 4 at 8 PM in Mandel Hall (1131 E. 57th Street, Hyde Park). Berlioz’s exuberant Overture to Le Corsaire opens this overtly Romantic program. Vaughan Williams’ A London Symphony concludes the evening’s fare. Barbara Schubert conducts the acclaimed, 100-member ensemble.

2010 Concerto Competition co-winner Frank Wen is a second year student from Silver Spring, Maryland, where he attended Montgomery-Blair High School. In high school, he enjoyed performing in the pit orchestra and spent his summers playing violin with a friend on the streets of downtown Rockville, Maryland. He adds: “As people walked by they would be captivated by the music and sit and listen for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life.” Wen demonstrates a serious desire to capture the essence and meaning of playing the violin and performing for his audiences, in concert halls and in public. The performance with the University Symphony Orchestra will be Wen’s debut as a solo artist.

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 is Mendelssohn’s last large orchestral work, and arguably one of his most popular and frequently performed violin concertos. Completed in 1844, the concerto premiered a year later to rave reviews. Guest soloist Frank Wen adds: “The reason why [the concerto] is significant is because it sounds so great. I cannot describe the piece better than Joseph Joachim, who said that of the four great German violin concertos, ‘the most inward, the heart's jewel, is Mendelssohn's.’ I feel like the concerto (especially the opening) is one of those melodies that never really fades out of your ear. It will always sound familiar, even when you can't remember exactly what it is.”

Berlioz’s Overture to Le Corsaire was originally entitled The Overture of the Tower of Nice, and on its first performance received an astounding review “as tormenting and nightmarish, full of bizarre, weird effects.” The reviewer also wrote, “You can imagine and believe everything when you hear these strident violins, croaking oboes, lamenting clarinets, groaning basses and moaning trombones. The Overture of the Tower of Nice is perhaps the strangest and most peculiar composition to have been created by the imagination of a musician.” Originally composed in 1831 for a performance to Shakespeare’s King Lear, the Overture was revised between 1846 and 1851. The Overture to Le Corsaire is one of Berlioz’s most brilliant and popular orchestral pieces.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 2, A London Symphony was lost, reconstructed, and later modified by the composer. The first performance in 1914, conducted as a four-movement symphony, was a success. Shortly thereafter the score was lost after being sent to conductor Fritz Busch in Germany at almost the same time as the outbreak of World War I. Vaughan Williams then reconstructed the score from the orchestral parts. The revision was performed in 1915 under Dan Godfrey. A London Symphony is a nighttime soundscape of the opposite side of Westminister banks juxtaposed with the hotels and bustling crowds of the city across the water.

Donations accepted at the door ($10 adults/$5 students and children). Children under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult. Reception to follow.

University Symphony Orchestra
Frank Wen, guest violinist
2010 Concerto Competition co-winner
Barbara Schubert, conductor

Saturday, December 4, 2010
8:00 PM

Mandel Hall
on The University of Chicago campus
1131 E. 57th Street

Berlioz - Overture to Le Corsaire
Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto in E minor
Vaughan Williams - A London Symphony

Donations accepted at the door; $10 adults/$5 students

Event Hotline: 773.702.8069

Positioned at the heart of a world-renowned academic institution, the Department of Music offers degrees in fields of musical scholarship and composition and sponsors a lively and diverse performance program that involves 13 student performance ensembles in over 100 concerts a year. Five ensembles-in-residence, the including Grammy-award winning eighth blackbird and Pacifica Quartet, and numerous professional concerts offered by University of Chicago Presents further enhance the vibrant musical life on campus.

University of Chicago Music Department
1010 East 59th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

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