Cellist will bring an old friend for his MSO debut

February 08, 2007|by KATE COLEMAN

Cellist William De Rosa said he is looking forward to working with Elizabeth Schulze and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra for the first time next weekend.

But an "old friend" will be with him at The Maryland Theatre.

That's what he called Antonin Dvork's Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104. He's been playing it with orchestras since he was 12. It's the pinnacle of all cello concertos, he said: "(It's) huge and wonderful, wonderful, wonderful."

The 38-year-old California native will be joined by his "trusty companion," a 1739 cello crafted by Domenico Montagnana in Venice, Italy. It's never out of his sight. He said he's very lucky to have the "gorgeous, gorgeous instrument" which he's played since he was about 16.

It was at about that age that De Rosa started playing professionally under major management.

Born into a family of generations of musicians, De Rosa was 5 when his uncle brought him a half-size cello at De Rosa's mother's birthday. He was about 6 when Eleanor Schoenfeld accepted him as a student - "... hesitantly," he said, "because she had not taken little kids at that point."


He was 11 or 12 when he was accepted as a student of the famed cellist Gregor Piatigorsky.

Despite his musical family, De Rosa said he always had a choice about playing the cello.

"I didn't have to do it," he said. "The music actually drew me in."

He has lived in Manhattan in New York since he was 15, after he won the Young Musicians Foundation Piatigorsky Award and was invited to study with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School.

He has performed with numerous American orchestras, as a recitalist in major music centers in the United States and as a chamber musician with some of the world's leading ensembles. He's toured Europe and Japan and played in Taiwan and South America.

De Rosa spends about two to three weeks a month performing and most of the rest of his time preparing to perform.

When he's not making music, De Rosa and his fiance manage to keep themselves quite busy. Diva, a just-under-4-pound Yorkshire terrier, also is part of his life.

He reads a lot, returning to classics - the works of Dostoyevsky and Joyce among them.

"I love to cook," he said, adding that his specialty is, "of course," Italian food. He travels to mom-and-pop places in Astoria in NYC's neighboring borough of Queens to buy bread and also recently picked up some "fabulous" veal cutlets that he cooked for a late dinner.

De Rosa listens to all music, trying to look with an open eye even at Eminem and some hip- hop. "I love jazz. I'm a big fan of U2," he added.

Listening to other musical genres provides perspective when he goes back to classical music, De Rosa said. "Classical music is fantastic, the most wonderful thing in the world. But if it wasn't here, the world would go on. It's a bon bon for us. And we're very lucky to have it."

And MSO audiences might consider themselves lucky to hear De Rosa.

De Rosa's playing will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that people shouldn't miss, Schulze said.

Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3 complements the Dvork concerto on the MasterWorks III program. Dvork encouraged American composers to write American music - just as he wrote his own nationalistic Czech music, Schulze explained. Copland took on this challenge and wrote quintessentially American music.

"It's a nice pairing, I think."

If you go ...

WHAT: Maryland Symphony Orchestra presents MasterWorks III, "Fanfare for the Common Man"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10; 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11. If inclement weather causes a cancellation, the snow date is 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12.

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

COST: Tickets cost $21 to $79 for adults and are available by calling 301-797-4000 and at the MSO box office's new location at 30 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Student and group discounts are available.

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

MORE: Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze will talk about the program's music and composers one hour before Saturday and Sunday's performances during Prelude. The half-hour presentation is free for ticket holders.

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