Saturday’s concert features violinist Judith Ingolfsson
By Peter Alexander Feb. 16 at 11:05 a.m.
“Sibelius’s only desire was to depict the greatness of his native Finland,” Longmont Symphony conductor Elliot Moore wrote for the orchestra’s newsletter.
He so far succeeded, Moore noted, that he became a potent symbol of his nation and its people. And it was Finland’s resistance to Russian control, symbolized in Sibelius’s music, that inspired Moore to choose Sibelius as the subject of a musical portrait, just as we all observe the struggle of Ukraine against Russian control.
That musical portrait will be the next concert of the Longmont Symphony, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 18 in Vance Brand Civic Auditorium). The concert will open with Finlandia, the composer’s most overt expression of Finnish nationalism and patriotism, and close with the Second Symphony, which Sibelius called “a confession of the soul.” The program will also feature violinist Judith Ingolfsson playing Sibelius’s Violin Concerto.
Finlandia was written specifically for a celebration of the Finnish press in 1899, which was intended to protest Russian censorship. Originally performed under other names to avoid Russian suppression, the score later became Sibelius’s best known work and has been performed widely around the world.
Completed in 1902, Sibelius’s Second Symphony was written soon after the premiere of Finlandia. The final movement, with a powerful transition from minor to major, was associated by many with Finland’s struggle against Russia, and at one time the piece was popularly known as the “Symphony of Independence.” Though no longer called by that name, the Second Symphony remains one of the composer’s most performed works.
Sibelius wrote his Violin Concerto—his only concerto for soloist and orchestra—in 1904, but that original version was not a success and is rarely performed. The revised version was premiered the following year with Richard Strauss conducting the Berlin Court Orchestra and violinist Karel Halíř. Sibelius removed passages that he thought had not worked, but this slightly easier version is still one of the leading virtuoso concertos in the violin repertoire.
Ingolfsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, and moved to the United States at the age of 14. She studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the Cleveland Institute. She currently lives in Europe where she teaches at the State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart and is co-artistic director and founder of the Festival Aigues-Vives en Musiques in France.
At the age of eight she played as a soloist with the Iceland Symphony. She won the gold medal in the 1998 Indianapolis International Violin Competition, and was a prize winner at the Paganini Competition in Genoa and the Concert Artists Guild Competition in New York. In 1999 she was named “Debut Artist of the Year” by NPR’s “Performance Today.”
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“Sibelius: A Portrait”
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Judith Ingolfsson, violin
- Sibelius: Finlandia
—Violin Concerto in D minor
—Symphony No. 2 in D major
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium