- IVCI laureate David Chan
What I experienced Sunday afternoon gave me renewed hope that classical music has a bright, continuing future. The IU Chamber Orchestra, with 20 string players between the ages of 10 and 18, together with IVCI laureate David Chan, now concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, gave us a landmark concert. And how apropos, as the venue was the Grand Hall in the recently refurbished Indiana Landmarks Center. These youngsters comprise the best of gifted pre-college students who study at the String Academy in IU's Jacobs School of Music.
Along with David Chan, the IVCI bronze medalist from 1994 occasionally leading them, seven of the players--three violinists, two violists and two cellists--form the IU Virtuosi. Chih-Yi Chen once again appeared as our chamber pianist mainstay. With a program of seven works spanning the centuries and styles from Bach to Don Freund (b. 1947), the ever-changing player combination forced a considerable "down" time between some selections as one person had to rearrange all the music stands.
The IU Virtuosi started the program with Fritz Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro in the style of Paganini, beginning with darkness and drama, but ending with famous Romantic quotes from far more composers than just Paganini--Schumann's "Joyous Farmer," Bizet's "Habañera," Paganini's 24th Caprice, etc. Freund's Seven Violin Duets followed--a modernist compendium of briefly expressed moods--the first and last one featuring five violins rather than the two "advertised."
All the IU virtuosi returned for Brahms' very familiar Hungarian Dances Nos. 1 and 6. Then Chan appeared with Chen for Beethoven's again-well-known "Spring" Sonata (No. 5 in F, Op. 24). Another change of pace gave us Prokofiev's Toccata in D Minor, arranged for string sextet--two violins, two violas and two cellos. This was written in his early "enfant terrible" style.
Chan then returned with the full chamber orchestra in the program's highlight, Bach's Violin Concerto No. 2 in E, BWV 1042. The group remained for Wieniawski's light-veined Variations on an Original Theme in A, with a bit of a show-off ending--and concluded with an encore, Paganini's "Cantabile," written in a catchy triple meter.
Throughout the concert, our youngsters (at least two of them pre-pubescent) played with the skill of a professional group: crisply, together and with virtually perfect intonation, handling the widely varying repertoire with aplomb. Chan easily displayed his IVCI laureate status with vibrant-but-controlled energy and smooth singing lines in the slow sections. As a pianist, Chen's high-order-musicianship showed through all the strings she had to compete with. This clearly was where all the chamber regulars and their "friends" in town wanted to be -- at that time. Oct. 20; Indiana Landmarks Center