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MSO hosts rising star

Orchestra features young violinist in season opener

Orchestra features young violinist in season opener

October 08, 2009|By KATE COLEMAN

The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will present the first MasterWorks concert of its 28th season this weekend.

Appropriately, the program will open with "Overture for the Season" by 20th-century Czech-American composer Tomas Svoboda.

The concert will conclude with a work by one of Music Director Elizabeth Schulze's favorite composers, Antonin Dvorak. She called his Sixth Symphony one of his most attractive for listeners.

Twenty-three-year-old violinist Elena Urioste will join the MSO to perform Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto.

Schulze said she's excited to be working with Urioste. Schulze said she heard the "musical star in the making" a few years ago in performance with the National Symphony Orchestra.

"I immediately wanted to bring her here for our audiences to get a chance to experience her expressive and impressive artistry."


In a wonderful coincidence, Schulze added, Urioste's mother was a classmate of Schulze's at Bryn Mawr College.

Urioste will play an instrument that is more than 10 times her age -- a violin crafted by Michelangelo Bergonzi in Cremona, Italy around 1750. In a telephone interview from New York, Urioste said her relationship with the violin is tumultuous at times, but she feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to play it for six years.

"It takes a lot of coaxing sometimes," she said, but she called it her baby and added, "I love it. It feels very much like a part of me now."

Urioste herself was not far from babyhood when, at age 2, she saw Itzhak Perlman playing violin on "Sesame Street."

"I knew right away that that's what I wanted to do," she said.

Urioste was the only child of nonmusical parents, and they encouraged her to wait a couple of years to ensure that their toddler's ambition was more than a passing whimsy. Urioste said she relentlessly bugged them and started taking lessons when she was 5.

"I went to a public school that fortunately had a great string program," she said.

She made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra when she was 13 and studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, earning her bachelor's degree in 2003. She did a year of graduate work at The Juilliard School in New York and has soloed with major ensembles, including the Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Pops and National Symphony Orchestra.

Urioste is one of three recipients of the London Music Makers Award, a three-year international career development honor. She also was s first-place laureate in both the junior and senior divisions of the Sphinx Competition. She debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2004 and has returned annually to that venue as soloist. In 2009, Urioste made her debut at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall.

The young artist's itinerary is demanding. This month's performance calendar has her traveling from Virginia to New York to Maryland, then Connecticut, London and California, and then back to Maryland.

She grew up in the Philadelphia area, but now calls New York home. She enjoys exploring the city, reading and knitting and said she's become "borderline obsessed" with Bikram yoga -- "hot yoga." Urioste said she listens to more nonclassical music than classical and loves Radiohead and Wilco.

The Samuel Barber concerto she will perform with the MSO is one of many in her repertoire.

The MSO's program notes describe the concerto's third movement as "fiendishly difficult." Urioste called it "perpetual motion" and said it constantly changes meter.

"It's very twisty in the fingers. It's sort of elaborate," she added.

The concerto is one of her favorites.

"I feel that it's very American in that it (is) very gracious, open, sort of expansive -- a very generous beauty," she said. "It's always a pleasure to play."

If you go ...

WHAT: MSO MasterWorks I: "A Violin Virtuoso"

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11

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

COST: Tickets cost $22 to $49 for adults; $12 to $25 for children 12 and younger and for full-time students.

CONTACT: Tickets are available online through Friday, Oct. 9, at, by calling 301-797-4000 or at the MSO box office, 30 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown.

MORE: Student rush tickets will be available first-come, first-served at the theater box office 90 minutes before the performance for $5.

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