The Spokane Symphony will wear its heart on its sleeve Friday with music from a romantic ballet and the gifts of two visiting artists.
Allen Vizzutti, one of the world’s greatest trumpet virtuosos, will be the soloist playing Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto and his own Emerald Concerto. Guest conductor Uri Segal will lead the orchestra in Dvorak’s Scherzo Capriccioso and Tchaikovsky’s Suite from “The Sleeping Beauty.”
Musicians seem unable to speak about Vizzutti without resorting to superlatives.
Vizzutti’s name came up by chance in conversation with Janet Brown, soloist in the Northwest Bach Festival. The soprano had heard Vizzutti perform recently in Syracuse, N.Y. “He’s wonderful,” she said. “He just stands there, puts his horn to his lips and the most amazing things come out.”
Vizzutti grew up in Missoula, where he first began trumpet lessons with his father, a music store owner and a self-taught musician and trumpet player.
“I heard about him when I was very young,” said another Missoula native, Eastern Washington University trombone professor Nat Wickham. “He was known all over Montana as ‘that spectacular trumpet prodigy.’ “
Later, Vizzutti attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He remains the only wind player in the institution’s 76-year history to receive Eastman’s Artist’s Diploma.
“I don’t think there is anyone who can touch Vizzutti technically, or ever has been,” Wickham said. “Because of that, perhaps, he has recorded in every style of music. He’s worked with the best jazz players, such as Chick Corea, he’s toured and recorded big band things with Woody Herman, and he’s done symphony classics with his own concerto and other works.”
Vizzutti has played with headliners such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Chuck Mangione. He has performed on the soundtracks of more than 100 films, including “Star Trek,” “Back to the Future” and “The Electric Horseman.” He has recorded jazz for the Prophecy and Bainbridge labels and classics for Sony and Golden Crest.
He has made classical symphonic appearances with orchestras in Germany and Japan and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic.
Vizzutti lives on Mercer Island near Seattle, but his professional travels have included stints as artist-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, the Banff Center for the Performing Arts and the Trompetten Akademie in Bremen, Germany.
He last appeared with the Spokane Symphony on the 1994 SuperPops series with his colleague Jeff Tyzik.
On Friday’s concert, Vizzutti will play Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concert, the work which stands at the beginning of the modern trumpet repertoire. Written in 1796, the concerto is the first major work to make use of a mechanism that allowed trumpeters to use easily all of the notes of the chromatic scale.
Vizzutti’s own “Emerald” Concerto was written nearly 200 years later. “The title refers to my home in Seattle, known as the Emerald City because of its perpetually lush green surroundings,” the soloist said. “One of my goals in writing the concerto was to write a piece whose main elements are rooted in beauty and traditional tonality while sustaining a contemporary edge.”
Segal, who will conduct Friday’s performance, is making his Northwest debut. He was born in Jerusalem and received his training in conducting at London’s Guildhall School and in the famous Italian conducting seminars held in Siena. In 1969, Segal won first prize in the Dmitri Mitropolis Conducting Competition, and he served as Leonard Bernstein’s assistant with the New York Philharmonic.
Currently, Segal is conductor of the Century Orchestra in Osaka, Japan, music director of the Chautauqua Festival in upstate New York and principal guest conduct of the Louisville Orchestra.
William Berry, Spokane Symphony trumpet player and SpokesmanReview music reviewer, will discuss the music in a pre-concert talk beginning at 7 p.m. in the Opera House auditorium.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
MEMO: The Spokane Symphony Orchestra will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets range from $13 to $18, available at the symphony ticket office (624-1200), G&B Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.
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