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Violinist to play mentor's work during SOR finale

Adele Anthony
The Missoulian

By Rob Chaney

When teacher and student become composer and performer, both the music and the audience benefit.

Australian performing and recording artist Adele Anthony will demonstrate the progression during her appearance with the String Orchestra of the Rockies in Missoula on May 4. She will play the violin solo in Eric Ewazen’s Concerto for Violin and Strings.

“I first knew Eric as a teacher rather than as a collaborator, when he was a professor at Juilliard,” Anthony said in a phone interview. “I still find it hard not to call him Mr. Ewazen. But he’s an effervescent personality, and the music is very bright and welcoming, energetic and beautiful at the same time. It sounds very American.”

SOR music director Fern Glass Boyd described the feature piece as “nuevo Aaron Copland” that showcases the range of a violin’s expressive qualities. Glass Boyd was a classmate of Ewazen’s at the Eastman Academy of Music.

Anthony worked with the Sejong Soloists to produce the first commercial recording of the concerto, and said she looked forward to seeing the piece evolve through the interests of SOR’s members.

“Musicians are very receptive to the idea of trying to work together, to produce something exciting and new,” Anthony said. “We enter the rehearsal wanting to be joining in the same musical vision. That’s a chamber-music mentality. You expect other players to have input, because there are always many different ways of playing the same piece.”

Anthony has worked with husband and violinist Gil Shaham in the United States and Spain on numerous concerts and recordings in honor of the passing of Spanish violinist and composer Pablo Sarasate. She has been heard on the nationally broadcast PBS “Live from Lincoln Center” series, including its Emmy Award-winning “Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine” performance in 2004. She has also recorded Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto with Takuo Yuasa and the Ulster Orchestra, Arvo Part’s “Tabula Rasa” with Shaham, Neeme Jarvi and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and the Nielsen Violin Concerto with Dorrit Matson and the New York Scandia Symphony. Her latest recording is the Sibelius Violin Concerto and Ross Edwards’ “Maninyas” with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in 2011.

SOR’s season finale concert also features Johann Stamitz’s “Mannheim” Symphony in A Major, Peter Sculthorpe’s Little Suite for Strings W. 169, Handel’s Concerto Grosso Opus 6, No. 1. and Gustavus Holst’s St. Paul Suite. Sculthorpe is an Australian composer whose work in this concert combines three of his noted works for movie and documentary scores from the 1960s, one of which celebrates Anthony’s birthplace on the island of Tasmania.

Anthony will rejoin the SOR company for the Holst performance, a work often compared to J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos for invention and variety. She will also conduct a free master class on Friday, May 2, at 3:30 p.m. in the University of Montana Music Recital Hall.

“It’s so nice to play again and be leading a string ensemble,” Anthony said. “It is a sensitive thing to lead a group that’s in existence already. I’m very excited to come.”