MSO opens season with 'Masters of Melody'

October 16, 2008|By KATE COLEMAN

This weekend Elizabeth Schulze and the Maryland Symphony will present the first MasterWorks concert of the orchestra's 27th season.

The program will open with Richard Wagner's Prelude to "Die Meistersinger," an overture Schulze called "grand and heroic and certainly a suitable work to open a season."

The program will conclude with Antonin Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 in G major, which Schulze said is "perhaps his most personal" symphony.

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine, who wowed MSO audiences in 2005, will return to perform Johannes Brahms' Violin Concerto in D major.


She will play the 1742 violin known as the "ex-Soldat," the instrument chosen by Brahms for Marie Soldat, the virtuoso he discovered as a teenager who later championed Brahms' concerto.

"Now our audience will hear Brahms' music on an instrument he chose for its performance," Schulze said.

Soldat was a student of Joseph Joachim, "Brahms' best friend and the guy he wrote his violin concerto for," said Pine. Joachim premiered Brahms' concerto in 1879, and Pine, on her 2003 recording with the Chicago Symphony, paired the Brahms piece with a concerto Joachim composed.

Pine, who just celebrated her 34th birthday, relishes the connection, and she said she enjoys others she's discovered in her study of music and the people who've made it.

In a recent early morning phone interview from her home in Chicago, she talked about her life in music and the music in her life with exuberance.

The sound of the violin attracted a 3-year-old Pine, and she knew by age 5 that she wanted to be a professional musician. At 10, she debuted with the Chicago Symphony and was her family's primary breadwinner by the age of 14.

She's performed as a soloist with many of the world's prestigious ensembles.

"I'm definitely gone more days per year than I'm home," she said. She keeps in touch via the Internet: "Rachel Online" -- MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter -- can be accessed through her Web site at

Pine was in Chicago for an Oct. 5 party celebrating the recent release of "Beethoven & Clement Violin Concertos," her 13th recording. She said it was an honor to record the Beethoven masterpiece -- especially with her own cadenzas -- but it was an absolute thrill to record the long-lost Franz Clement concerto it's paired with. Clement's concerto was the immediate precursor to Beethoven's and gave Beethoven many of his ideas, Pine explained.

Immediately following that party, Pine headed to the House of Blues to play electric violin with Uli Jon Roth, former lead guitarist with the Scorpions, a German heavy-metal band.

Pine loves rock music, and her Web site invites "fellow headbangers" to visit that part of her musical world.

That world is wide, and she shines light on parts of it that have not been widely known.

Her 1997 recording, "Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries," led to the development of a curriculum that will include the "first-ever anthology of music by composers of African descent from the 1700s to the present day from all around the world."

The project falls under the banner of the foundation Pine already had established to provide assistance and instrument loans to talented students growing up in financially challenging circumstances.

Pine recorded "American Virtuosa: Tribute to Maud Powell" in 2007. She said she delights in the many parallels between herself and Powell, "the first American-born violinist to achieve international renown."

Powell lived from 1867 to 1920 and broke many barriers, Pine said. A full-size statue of Powell stands in the town square of her birthplace in Peru, Ill. -- the only statue of any woman musician in the entire United States, Pine added.

At least so far, Rachel Barton Pine. So far.

If you go ...

WHAT: MasterWorks I, "Masters of Melody:" violinist Rachel Barton Pine will perform Johannes Brahms Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18; 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19

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

COST: Tickets cost $22 to $49 for adults, $12 to $25 for children 12 and younger and for full-time students. Tickets are available online through Friday, Oct. 17, at, by calling 301-797-4000 and at the MSO box office, 30 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown. Box-office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets will be available at The Maryland Theatre from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Student rush tickets (no reservations accepted) will be available beginning 90 minutes before the performance for $5.

Season subscriptions still are available.

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

For program notes and audio clips of the weekend program, go to the MSO Web site at and click on Audio Program Notes on the performance page.

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