Originally created 09/22/00

Musical challenges keep violinist in tune



The Augusta Symphony opens its 46th season with a pair of alliterative concerts of Barber, Bach and Brahms, featuring renowned violin/violist Ida Kavafian.

The symphony performs tonight at the Etherredge Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken and Saturday at the Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre at Augusta State University.

Both concerts include Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, Samuel Barber's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra and Brahms' Symphony No. 1, Op. 68 in C minor. Ms. Kavafian will be featured on the Barber piece, which she considers among the finest pieces of 20th-century music written for violin.

"It really is lovely," she said. "The first two movements are very lyrical and melodic, and then it surprises you. The last movement is quite dramatic and requires a real element of virtuosity."

Virtuosity is no problem for Ms. Kavafian. Able to switch with ease from violin to viola and back again, she has played with ensembles ranging from the intimate Beaux Arts Trio to orchestras in Boston, Montreal and New York.

A career highlight was playing with jazzman Chick Corea.

"That's something I don't consider myself proficient at," she said of her experiences in the jazz world. "It's very different. As a classical musician I was taught to depend on a score and play only what is on the page. With jazz there may only be a progression written down to improvise from. It was funny because on the road Chick would be uncomfortable reading from a score and I was uncomfortable when I couldn't."

Ms. Kavafian, who firmly believes that great music needs no explanation, said that audiences need not be educated in the minutiae of musical forms to enjoy a concert.

"I think that anything they were able to glean from the performance would be fine with me," she said. "What I'm most concerned with is making that direct connection between the performer and the audience. The most important thing is for them to come with open ears and an open mind."

Ms. Kavafian said that she will continue to look for experiences that stretch her musically, be it jazz or classical. She said that has kept playing interesting for her.

"I've always been interested in a tremendous variety of music and always looked for challenges," she said. "I think my biggest fear in life is being bored, and I don't think that is going to happen."

On stage

What: Barber, Bach and Brahms, featuring Ida Kavafian and the Augusta Symphony

When: Tonight and Saturday night at 8

Where: Tonight at the Etherredge Center on the campus of University of South Carolina Aiken, Saturday at the Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre on the campus of Augusta State University

Admission: $15-$35

Phone: 826-4705

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or suhles@hotmail.com.