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Greensboro Symphony opens season with four 'violin virtuosos'

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Greensboro Symphony Orchestra Music Director Dmitry Sitkovetsky played a key role in the 25th anniversary of the renowned Verbier Festival in Switzerland.

The festival commissioned the London-based orchestra conductor and violinist to transcribe a piece written by the late Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate. Sitkovetsky expanded the original music by inserting parts of four other Sarasate pieces.

Sitkovetsky then performed his “Navarra Fantasy” with an all-star lineup of violinists, violists, cellists and pianists at the festival’s 2018 anniversary gala.

“It was very exciting to play at the big stage of the Verbier Festival, which was streamed live on Medici TV to millions of viewers across the world,” Sitkovetsky said via email from New York, before arriving in Greensboro. “It was great to be surrounded by my old friends and colleagues.”

Sitkovetsky now has created another version, this one titled “Navarra Fantasy for Four Violins and Orchestra.”

And next week, Sitkovetsky will join three other violin soloists and Greensboro Symphony Orchestra in its U.S. premiere.

Symphony Concertmaster Marjorie Bagley, and guests Mayuko Kamio and her 18-year-old student, Risa Hokamura, will solo on the work with Sitkovetsky.

It will be part of the symphony’s “Violin Virtuosos” season-opening classical Masterworks concert, in Dana Auditorium at Guilford College.

Later in the season, the orchestra will move its March and May Masterworks concerts to the new downtown Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts.

Sitkovetsky describes the Sept. 19 and 21 concerts as a “true violin virtuoso gala featuring four generations of violinists.”

“It gives all of us a chance to demonstrate both virtuoso and ensemble qualities,” he said.

The violinists also will perform Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Four Violins.”

Hokamura will solo with the orchestra on Saint Saen’s Violin Concerto No. 3. Kamio will perform Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra.

Sitkovetsky not only will play violin, but conduct during the concert.

Although that’s not new for Sitkovetsky, “It’s always a challenge,” he said.

“You have to be able to hear everything around you and concentrate on your own playing. In the case of Sarasate, all the parts are very virtuosic,” he said. “Some orchestras, especially the chamber ones, are much more used to playing without a conductor. But for the symphony orchestras, it is a rare occasion.”

Makuyo, 33, performed with the Greensboro Symphony in 2012, and in a chamber concert a few years later. In 2000, she took first prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions.

She has built an international presence, which includes recent appearances with the Boston Pops and Munich Philharmonic.

Sitkovetsky met her in 2007 in Germany, the year she had won the first prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

Hokamura, now 18, won first prize in the 2018 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. Sitkovetsky heard her play at the 2018 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, where she won the silver medal.

“Risa was certainly the most special talent of all the violinists in Indianapolis, so I wanted to bring her here as a soloist,” he said.

The four violinists also will perform in a Sept. 20 chamber concert, along with symphony violists Scott Rawls and Simon Ertz, cellists Alex Ezerman and Ryan Graebert, and pianist Nancy Johnston.

The chamber concert will include the four pieces that Sitkovetsky inserted into “Navarra Fantasy” in their original form, for violin and piano and played by four different soloists.


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