Utah Symphony hosts American Virtuoso

By Christie Franke

The Utah Symphony is doing it again: hosting an awesome violinist for a show, that is.

James Ehnes, an American virtuoso, will be performing Felix Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto and Overture to Ruy Blas” as well as Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” and “Symphony No. 8” on April 11 and 12 at 8:00 p.m at Abravenal Hall.

James Ehnes has played in most of the world’s great concert halls — the DSO Berlin, the Czech Philharmonic and numerous French and Italian orchestras to name a few — as well as in North America and Canada.

Ehnes began studying the violin at the age of four (not so surprising for musicians), became the protégé of famous Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin when he was nine and made his orchestral debut at 13. He later attended and graduated from the Juilliard School with a Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music in the process. Considering Juilliard’s prestige as a music school, that’s no small feat.

According to the Utah Symphony, Ehnes “plays the ‘Ex Marsick’ Stradivarius, made 1715.” Unlike the last time it was rumored that a performer was playing an authentic Stradivarius (and turned up with an instrument of similar era and different make), this time it’s true. Mendelssohn’s Overture to Ruy Blas is rarely performed (a pity, really, as Mendelssohn is one of the greats). Ehnes’s performance focuses on these timeless romantic pieces and will doubtless provide a fantastic evening.

There’s another good thing about this concert: There is an open-to-the-public dress rehearsal for those who can’t make it to the actual performances. The Finishing Touches rehearsal takes place on Thurs., April 10, at 10:00 a.m. at Abravenal Hall. According to a Symphony press release, “During this rehearsal, audience members will experience the diligence and dedication that goes into each performance.” Student tickets are only $4 for the rehearsal (they’re $12-$47 for the actual performances), so if you can afford to skip class this late in the semester, keep that in mind.For tickets to the actual performance, call 801-533-6683 and ask for a student discount, or visit www.utahsymphony.org.

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