Student Symphony takes new look at Vivaldi

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2003

Juneau Student Symphonies conductor Rick Trostel likes to say Antonio Vivaldi would have written his violin concerto in G Minor differently for a full orchestra.

As it was, Vivaldi (1678-1741), a Baroque-era Italian trained on the violin and raised for the priesthood, composed the piece for strings and organ late in life.

"If Vivaldi had the force that I have in front of me, he would have written it for a diverse group as well," said Trostel, who has reorchestrated the third movement for his 42-member Juneau Student Symphony.

The Juneau Student Sinfonia and the more-experienced Juneau Student Symphony - two full orchestras that make up the Juneau Student Symphonies - will play their fall concerts at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 23, in the Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School commons.

The sinfonia will play three selections before a brief intermission.

The concert will resume with five selections by the symphony, including a three-piece baroque suite of works composed within 10 years of each other and written in the key of G. The Vivaldi piece will follow Bach's "Brandenburg" Sinfonia and Fantasy on "Sleepers, Wake."

"Vivaldi's style of contrast was to go between a small group of strings and a large group of strings," Trostel said.

"I can do that contrast as well in my arrangement. Plus, I can contrast the tone color. I can pass the motifs from string to the woodwinds to the brass and add in some of the punctuation of the percussion."

Violinist Pauline Zheng, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Floyd Dryden and a winner of the Juneau Symphony's concerto competition, will be the featured soloist for the Vivaldi work. Zheng, a member of the Aurora Strings Ensemble, has been playing violin for five years under the tutelage of Juneau Symphony violinist Guo Hua Xia, a college friend of her father, Jie.

"Rick says it's on the professional level," Zheng said. "It has a lot of positions you have to shift into with your violin.

"Vivaldi has kind of a flair for the faster music," she said. "There's some fast parts and some slow parts, and it has a certain difficult bowing."

This will be Zheng's first major solo performance.

"It's kind of different when you're the leader and everyone has to follow you," Zheng said. "I have to do things that I don't usually do. I have to tell the conductor when there's going to be a different part, and I have to show when I'm going to go into the melody again."

Future concerts will include other concerto winners. Hunter Brown will play Mendelssohn's Student Concerto for cello in D major at the student symphony's spring concert, and Brian Diebels will play a piano concerto with the Juneau Symphony in April.

The Student Symphonies will hold auditions for new members from 5:30 to 9:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 12, at the Dzantik'i Heeni band room.

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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