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String master

Vadim Gluzman will appear as soloist with the Spokane Symphony in concerts Saturday and Sunday at The Fox.Courtesy of the Spokane Symphony (John Kringas)
Vadim Gluzman will appear as soloist with the Spokane Symphony in concerts Saturday and Sunday at The Fox.Courtesy of the Spokane Symphony (John Kringas)

Renowned violinist Vadim Gluzman takes center stage this weekend with the Spokane Symphony

His parents tried to warn him away from such a path, but like many headstrong children, he took it anyway: Vadim Gluzman became a violinist.

Gluzman will appear as soloist in Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto with the Spokane Symphony in concerts Saturday and Sunday at the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.

Music Director Eckart Preu will conduct a program that also includes Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony.

The orchestra is offering a special winter sale, with tickets at half their normal price through the symphony box office.

“Both my parents are musicians,” Gluzman said in a telephone interview. “My father is a conductor and clarinetist and my mother is a musicologist.

“They are both teachers, so they told me being a musician was hard, but I wanted so much to play the violin, I wouldn’t stop asking until they let me study.

“This must run in the family because my wife (pianist Angela Yoffe) and I have gone through the same thing with our daughter, who is 6 now. ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ sounds pretty good,” said Gluzman, who has homes in Chicago and Israel.

Though he was born in 1973 in Ukraine when it was still a part of the Soviet Union, the family moved to Riga in Latvia. When he turned 7, Gluzman got his first violin.

“I don’t think there was a time when I didn’t know I was going to be a professional violinist,” he said. “I remember a time when I played in a concert when I was maybe 8 or 9, and when it was over I felt that ‘spark,’ and I remember thinking, ‘I want this feeling again!’

“Of course, at the time, I didn’t know that for this feeling you had to actually practice!”

When Gluzman was 15, his family moved to Israel.

“I had been there two weeks when somebody told me Isaac Stern was hearing some violin students in Jerusalem Music Center,” he recalled. “so I went there and introduced myself to the receptionist and told her I wanted to play for Isaac Stern.

“She told me I should have called two years ago, but just then Stern came in the door and asked who I was, and she told him.

“He said, ‘Go warm up. When these auditions are over I can see you for five minutes.’ Five minutes turned into two hours, and when he left, I had a new violin and a scholarship,” Gluzman said.

“Isaac was a very great man. I continued seeing him and playing for him until about six weeks before he died.”

Gluzman won a Henryk Szerying Foundation Career Award in 1994 and came to the U.S., first to Dallas where he studied with Arkady Fomin, then to New York where he attended Juilliard and worked with Dorothy DeLay and Masao Kawasaki.

He has since developed a busy career in the concert hall and through his recordings on the BIS and Koch labels.

Gluzman’s recording of Barber’s Concerto has just been released in the BIS label along with works by Bernstein and Bloch made with the São Paulo Symphony conducted by John Neschling.

“What is interesting for me is the multilayering of Barber’s Concerto,” Gluzman says. “On the surface, it is so melodically rich and luscious you can swim in this beauty. And in the third movement there is this incredible perpetual motion.

“But there is something in even the first movement and later in the concerto that makes me think of the time when it was conceived at the beginning of World War II.

“Barber was in Europe, and he left because he knew soon it might not be possible for him to go home,” Gluzman continued. “There is a kind of undercurrent, almost a march-like rhythm which the violin repeats at the end of the first movement. There is not a roughness, exactly, but a nervousness there that is often missing in performances of it.

“I think there is more to this concerto than we often think. I hope I can bring this to my performance.”

Gluzman will present a master class for four preselected high school and college violinists at The Fox on Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

He and Preu will discuss the music on this weekend’s program one hour before each performance time as a part of the orchestra’s Gladys Brooks Pre-Concert Talks series.

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