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Violinist Shlomo Mintz to perform Mendelssohn concerto with GU orchestra

International violinist Shlomo Mintz will perform with the Gonzaga University Symphony Orchestra at the Fox in Spokane on Monday night. (Courtesy)
International violinist Shlomo Mintz will perform with the Gonzaga University Symphony Orchestra at the Fox in Spokane on Monday night. (Courtesy)

Internationally acclaimed violinist Shlomo Mintz will perform the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto on Monday with the Gonzaga University orchestra at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.

Before that, he’ll spend the weekend rehearsing with students and giving a master class.

Kevin Hekmatpanah, Gonzaga’s orchestra director, said the Mendelssohn concerto is “an absolute delight,” that showcases the virtuosity of the soloist. “It’s just ebulliant and vivacious and bustling with enthusiasm, impassioned, but in a light-hearted way.”

Mintz, 58, has a long history with the piece. He first performed it at age 11 as his concerto debut with the Israeli Philharmonic (“It was most exciting for me ever”) and he said it was the first among a series of early breaks that led to his professional career. Mintz, who was born in Moscow and moved to Israel at age 2, went to New York to study at Juilliard at 16.

It’s the third movement of the concerto, when individual themes by the orchestra and soloist join, that Mintz enjoys the most.

“It simply becomes a great joy,” he said. “This concerto is always challenging, because it is written in such a perfect manner – not one note wasted throughout the entire piece – so I try to treat it with the utmost respect and appreciation.”

Hekmatpanah said working with an artist of Mintz’s caliber is a wonderful opportunity for orchestra students.

“Their passion for making beautiful sounds, their passion for detail … their commitment to the music is so inspiring,” Hekmatpanah said.

Young people can get pulled in a lot of directions, he said, and sometimes lose their passion for the details. “Being around someone who can still be so focused after so many concerts is inspiring.”

As for Mintz, who serves as the artistic director of the Crans Montana Classics in Switzerland, he enjoys the excitement student musicians bring to the music.

“I enjoy working with a college orchestra because they have a naive enthusiasm and want to believe in the good that comes through their playing when they’re actually working on a piece for the first time, and that justifies the whole concert of music to begin with,” he said.

He’s hoping to share his experience with the students, and share a good time working together.

“The joy of music is the most important factor here, more than anything else.”

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