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Sarah Chang Joins Pacific Symphony For Sibelius' Violin Concerto, Now thru 4/12

Sarah Chang Joins Pacific Symphony For Sibelius' Violin Concerto, Now thru 4/12

Gleaming with glamour and virtuosity, Sarah Chang, one of the world's foremost violinists, returns to Pacific Symphony to perform Jean Sibelius' Violin Concerto, which takes full advantage of the violin's expressive range, from the rippling high chords to the growling alto notes. With an international career that spans more than two decades, Chang enthralls once again-this time alongside guest conductor Tito Muñoz, who recently served as music director of two esteemed organizations in Lorraine, France. Muñoz leads the orchestra in Dvo?ák's Symphony No. 8, optimistic and bright, filled with folk music and Bohemian dances. Opening the concert and having its West Coast premiere is a sensuous work by Adam Schoenberg, "Finding Rothko" (2006). Inspired by four bold paintings by American Abstract Impressionist painter Mark Rothko, the work is a musical depiction of the emotions Schoenberg felt embodied in each of the paintings.

Embrace art, music and mastery at "Sarah Chang Plays Sibelius" Thursday through Saturday, today, April 10-12, at 8 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $25-$99. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.

"The Sibelius concerto is one of my favorite violin concertos, and I say this as a violinist myself," says Maestro Muñoz. "I also have known of Sarah Chang since I started learning music, so it will be a thrill to work with her for the first time in these concerts."

Sibelius wrote of his affinity for the violin in his diary: "The violin took me by storm and for the next 10 years it was my dearest wish, my overriding ambition, to become a great virtuoso." Although he never made it as a virtuoso, starting at the late age of 14, Sibelius poured his passion for the instrument into his only concerto, which can be heard in every note. Sibelius' concerto stands as one of the most difficult and most recorded in the repertoire. With its wide variety of playing techniques and exploration of the breadth and depth of the instrument, it is a perfect vehicle to showcase Chang's dazzling expertise.

The Symphony opens the evening with a work by Schoenberg. The four movements, based on Rothko's paintings, are played without interruption, flowing from the sunny heights of "Orange" and "Yellow" to the deep and mysterious tones of "Red" and "Wine." The night swings into a close with the cheerful rhythms of Symphony No. 8, abundant in the folk music of composer Dvo?ák's native Bohemia. Full of energy, the symphony toys with woodwinds in the opening, reflects on the joys and sorrows of country life in the second movement, transitions to a lusciously scored waltz in the third and uses a trumpet fanfare in the finale.

"I think that Dvo?ák may actually have had a very indirect influence on Adam's work," says Muñoz. "Dvo?ák spent an extended amount of time here in the United States, when he was asked by a wealthy patron to lead her brand new music school in New York City. He wrote several pieces here, including his New World Symphony. He was also given the monumental task of helping America (a very new country, and a melting pot of cultures) find its own musical voice. Being a very nationalistic composer himself, he saw the value of using a country's own folk music as the basis for its own sound. He saw the potential that African-American spirituals had to be this very thing for a truly unique American sound.

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