By Michael Pearl
For the first time ever, Pro Musica presents a summer season of live classical music so you can once again listen to world class performers in person after the long interruption caused by the worst of the pandemic. These concerts will be inside our home venue of St. Paul’s church with no more than 50 percent capacity, socially distanced seating, and Covid hygiene protocols. After a sold-out opening concert on July 24, our second concert will be on Sunday, August 8, at 5pm, and will feature the explosive talent of 20-year-old violinist Joshua Brown.
Cleveland Classical wrote of his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra at age 15: “Brilliantly played and expertly paced, Brown was spellbinding throughout his entire time on stage.” Two years later, the Chicago Classical Review said, “…a musical maturity beyond his 17 years…the young man played with great poise and a silken tone…clearly someone to watch in years to come.”
At the age of 19, Joshua swept the board at the International Mozart Violin Competition in Augsburg, Germany, securing not only the First Prize, but five other prizes. He has since performed at concert halls on three continents, including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall in New York City, Arnold Katz State Concert Hall in Novosibirsk, Russia, and the Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
Now 21, Joshua is already on the A-list of violinists. As a mark of his prodigious talent, the Stradivari Society of Chicago has loaned him a 1679 Pietro Guarneri violin from Cremona. It will be a real thrill to hear this magnificent instrument in the perfect acoustic of St. Paul’s. The centerpiece of the concert will be Beethoven’s magisterial 1803 Violin Sonata No. 9, the Kreutzer. It is notable for its technical difficulty and its unusual length of around 40 minutes.
The other large-scale work in the program will be Janáček’s Violin Sonata of 1914. The composer’s chamber music is as pungently characterized as his operas and always requires a dramatic approach. The Violin Sonata was inspired by Janáček looking forward to the arrival of Russian forces at the start of the First World War. He said of the work: “I could just about hear the sound of the steel clashing in my troubled head…!”
The program will conclude with Franz Waxman’s Carmen Fantasy, a virtuoso showpiece from his score to the 1946 movie “Humoresque,” nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music. Based on themes from Bizet’s opera, it was played by a young Isaac Stern, whose hands can be seen in close-up shots from the movie. The program also includes Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill Sonata” and Kreisler’s Liebeslied and Liebesfreud
Tickets for the concerts at St. Paul’s are 400 and 600 pesos donation each, and are on sale through our website, and at the concert 45 minutes before performance time.