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June 2022 | Rising Stars Showcase

There have been three absolute greatest child prodigy composers in history. We all know about Mozart, the 20th Century gave us Korngold, the composer of Robin Hood, and the 19th Century gave us Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn was the luckiest in that he was born into a wealthy family that adored music. At the age of 12, his parents hired a chamber orchestra for young Felix to conduct and try out his early symphonies. Later he founded the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. His final concerto was recognized as a masterpiece from the first day it was performed. We will hear the first movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, performed by last year’s winner Anya Letson.

Rachmaninoff premiered his 1st symphony in 1897. It was a disaster. Everybody hated it. Rachmaninoff went into a severe depression. For nearly two years he could not work. He was about to give up music altogether. Finally, he was sent to a psychiatrist, who we assume was a strict Freudian and believed in therapy by hypnosis. Every week, Sergei sat reclining in his doctor's office. His doctor intoned over and over again: "You will write a concerto ... You will compose a great piano concerto … it will be excellent .. it will be successful." Unlike the vast majority of patients, Rachmaninoff actually listened to his doctor and in a few months, produced his great C Minor Piano Concerto. It was great. It was successful. It was original and it launched his career. He quickly went on to compose reems of great piano music. Runner-up Noah Miller will present Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Elegie Op. 3, No. 1.

The 19th Century saw the rise of travelling virtuosi and great rivalry between them. Nicolo Paganini wrote a beastly difficult violin solo as the finale of his 2nd Violin concerto which is called La campanella. Pianist Franz Liszt came along and essentially said, “anything you can do. I can do better,” and proceeded to compose these beastly difficult variations for piano using Paganini’s theme. 21st Century virtuoso and Senior Winner Damaris Harvey will tackle the Paganini/Franz Lizst La campanella.

The ultimate romantic pianist was certainly Frédéric Chopin. We will enjoy his somber, soulful and exquisite Etude Op. 25, No.7 in C-sharp minor played by Junior Winner Alec Rodriguez.

Our second Senior Winner, violinist Elizabeth Stein, will bring us one of the most beautiful and beloved pieces in all the romantic literature, the Max Bruch Violin Concerto in G Minor.


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