Pyrotechnics, drama and gorgeous melodies

Posted: Thursday, February 01, 2001

Juneau violinist Linda Rosenthal flies halfway around the world for many of her concerts. Saturday night she can walk to the concert hall.

Rosenthal performs as the featured soloist with the Juneau Symphony on Saturday at the JuneauDouglas High School auditorium. She'll be featured in Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, one of her favorite pieces of music.

Rosenthal said Bruch was a relatively young composer, 30, when he wrote the concerto in 1868. Like a contemporary pop musician who can't perform without audiences demanding a favorite song, Bruch spent the next 50 years fielding requests for the concerto, Rosenthal said.

"Even in his lifetime it was his most famous work, although he went on to compose more than 100 works and had a distinguished career in Germany," she said. "He was fiercely hounded. He wrote beautiful choral and orchestral works, chamber works, symphonies, a huge variety of stuff. But this was constantly requested."

Violinist Linda Rosenthal will play with the Juneau Symphony in its first concert of 2001

Rosenthal said Bruch had a wonderful gift for writing for the violin. The 20-minute concerto in three movements has everything she could want in a composition.

"It's beautifully written for the violin," she said. "It has gorgeous melodies, pyrotechnics, drama the range of moods is vast. It's an exuberant piece. There's lots of wonderful colors from the orchestra."

Rosenthal is delighted with the upcoming hometown performance. The life of a professional concert violinist can be hectic, and she is able to practice in a more relaxed atmosphere.

"Sometimes on tour you're really lucky to get in an hour or two a day," she said. "You're playing or rehearsing, so you have your instrument in hand all the time. Now for this performance I'm home for a couple weeks, so it's two or three hours at least."

The goal of practicing isn't just to learn new music, but to have more fun playing as well.

"You are learning how to do things more efficiently, so you can relax and play with less effort, with the goal that everything will benefit the music and your enjoyment," she said.

Rosenthal has performed throughout Europe, America and Asia. But her music career involves more than just performing. She is the artistic director for Juneau Jazz and Classics, and she organizes and conducts an annual chamber music symposium in Fairbanks. She teaches violin, and said she works constantly to maintain connections and good working relationships with other music festival organizers and musicians.

"There's also recording another area altogether," she said. "I enjoy recording. Those projects are monstrous once you get started. So many people are involved and so many things to pull together. It's satisfying in a totally different way."

Rosenthal has five recordings to her credit. Last year she recorded "Glacier Blue," a modern composition incorporating jazz, bluegrass and classical elements, and a collection of classical violin and piano pieces.

This will be her first chance to perform with the Juneau Symphony's new conductor, Kyle Wiley Pickett. She said she was impressed by the symphony's last two performances and is eager to work with the group.

The concert begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, and will also include Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2, "Little Russia", and Verdi's overture to "La Forza del Destino."

Pickett will deliver a preconcert talk at 7 p.m., offering insights into, and the history of, the music.

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