A sparkling season finale

MSO ends season with violinist Jennifer Frautschi

MSO ends season with violinist Jennifer Frautschi

April 20, 2006|by KATE COLEMAN

Years of hard work have built violinist Jennifer Frautschi's career, but she said it was "happenstance" that began it when she started violin lessons at the age of 2 1/2.

Laura, Frautschi's four-years-older sister, had gone along to the violin lesson of a preschool friend's older sibling. Laura decided she wanted to learn to play the violin.

"From the time I was born, I saw my sister playing the violin, and I wanted to copy her," Jennifer Frautschi said with a laugh during a recent phone interview from Sarasota, Fla., where she was scheduled to perform at La Musica Festival.

The sisters - both professional violinists - still play together at least a couple of times a year.

Frautschi said her parents certainly encouraged and supported their daughters in their studies, but she doesn't think they ever imagined both of their children would "end up being violinists."


Neither was becoming a professional musician a goal for Frautschi growing up in California.

"I was someone who liked playing the violin," she said, "but I wasn't terribly serious as a kid."

Happenstance - some might call it serendipity - came into play again when Frautschi was 12. Her mother requested auditions for the 14-year-old daughter of a Japanese friend and her own girls with a respected violin teacher in Los Angeles. Robert Lipsett immediately accepted the young Japanese violinist and Laura Frautschi, but not Jennifer. He acknowledged that she was very talented, but said she didn't seem like a hard worker.

"We still laugh about this," Frautschi said. "He was right."

Mrs. Frautschi begged, and Lipsett agreed to take Jennifer for a six-month trial period. He took her seriously, so she took herself seriously.

"This scared the living daylights out of me," she said. "He expected things of me."

After a couple of years, Frautschi realized that she really loved getting up on stage and performing and that she was good at it.

"When you put a lot of effort into something, you get that much more reward out of it," Frautschi said. "That's a life lesson that can be applied to anything."

Frautschi, who performed a Hagerstown Community Concerts recital at The Maryland Theatre several years ago, will be featured in Camille Saint-Sans' Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra this weekend.

It's a piece Frautschi learned as a teenager but hasn't played since she was 14 or 15 years old.

"I'm happy to have a chance to revive it for myself," she said.

It will be wonderful to hear Jennifer Frautschi - "a stunningly excellent player" - play the concerto, "a tour-de-force piece for violin," said MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze.

"I think it's good for players to sometimes come back to works that they haven't played in a long time, because the experience of all the other pieces that they've worked on somehow informs them in a different way, perhaps, when they return to a piece."

Frautschi has the experience of working on many other pieces. In this season alone, she's performing - from memory - 10 different concerti.

The 32-year-old violinist's lesson about hard work still is with her. This month, for example, she's traveling for "four or five weeks straight, with one or two stops at home (in New York) for a day."

Next week, she'll head to London to record her fourth CD.

In the midst of all this, she's been planning her June wedding to Boston-based horn player Eric Ruske.

Frautschi will return to the Saint-Sans with the 1722 Antonio Stradivarius violin she chose because of its "atypical, slightly darker, more velvety, more chocolatey sound."

The weekend's performances will be the finale of the MSO's 24th season, a season Schulze considers a triumph.

"The orchestra's come a long way from the very beginning, but I think the addition of the (orchestra) shell has just made it so much more enjoyable for everyone," she added.

The concerts will conclude with Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances," the kind of piece the orchestra really enjoys sinking their teeth into, Schulze said.

She called the work incredibly virtuosic for the orchestra, which is why she chose it for the last piece.

"It really is meant to - at the end of the season - show where we've come," Schulze said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Maryland Symphony Orchestra's MasterWorks V concert, "A Sparkling Season Finale," with violinist Jennifer Frautschi

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 23

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $20 to $72 for adults and $10 to $36 for children 12 and younger and full-time students. Tickets can be purchased at the MSO box office, 13 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets also are available by calling 301-797-4000.

Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.

For information and to listen to selections from the weekend program, go to the MSO Web site at

MORE: Music Director Elizabeth Schulze will talk about the program's music and composers one hour before each MasterWorks performance. The half-hour presentation is free for ticket holders.

STILL MORE: There will be a preconcert wine-tasting at Cloak & Cupboard Antiques, 20 Public Square, Hagerstown, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22. More than a dozen wines will be featured, courtesy of Gordon's Grocery. Featured wines will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the MSO. For reservations, call the MSO office at 301-797-4000.

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