“Five encores were accented by Perlman’s personality that captivated the audience as much as the music.” – San Antonio Express News, 3-20-2011
Perlman & area young musicians – learning from a legend
It’s not everyday a violin shop gets to host one of the most important classical artists alive. Yet our day came Saturday, March 19, 2011, when Antonio Strad Violin hosted Itzhak Perlman at the newly renovated Lila Cockrell Theater in downtown San Antonio. Perlman played Mozart, Beethoven, Saint-Saenz, and several other nuggets that left the audience clamoring for more. From the Question and Answer (Q&A) session earlier that day at our shop, to the riveting performance that included accomplished pianist, Rohan De Silva, and finally to the Meet and Greet backstage afterward, Mr. Perlman’s visit touched many lives that day.
The day began as Mr. Perlman arrived at the shop early for a Q&A session moderated by none other than Dr. Eugene Dowdy, associate professor and head of orchestral studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he served six years as the music department chair. Dr. Dowdy is the conductor of the UTSA Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra, and is the founding director of the UTSA String Project, a nationally recognized string education program.
Guests of the session included notable student musicians and pre-professional players from local Universities, Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, MacArthur High School, Churchill, High School, Alamo Heights High School and Health Careers, among others. Students got their chance to ask Mr. Perlman questions about technique, playing fitness, and his unique take on performers today.
Shortly after the Q&A session and some browsing at Antonio Strad Violin, Mr. Perlman’s next stop before heading out to the concert hall was North Star Mall, the perfect place for a little retail therapy. Then it was off to the Lila Cockrell Theater, a newly renovated theater right in the heart of the city. Mr. Perlman arrived with great energy and was in high spirits, ready to give San Antonio a show like no other.
It all started with Mozart’s Sonata for violin & piano in B-flat Major, K. 454. The first movement was the Largo; slow and deliberate it put the piano and violin in equal footing. It was clear from the get-go that the evening wasn’t only about the violin, but the piano, too. Rohan De Silva – an accomplished pianist in his own rite – was smooth, sensitive, and electric! He and Perlman were one, heading into the second movement, the melodic Andante, and finally the more fleshed-out Rondo movement, the Allegretto. The audience, showing sheer admiration, could not be contained as they applauded every movement, as though the welled-up anticipation of experiencing Perlman spilled-over.
Next up was Beethoven’s Sonata for violin & piano in C minor (“Eroica”), Op. 30/2. It is a curious peace of pace and character, a dichotomy of sorts. Borne out of Beethoven’s “symphonic ideal” where he tended to go heavy on sound, De Silva was spot-on in his fiery temperament. This “heroic” style is contrasted, or balanced, by the violin part, which assuages the piano and work towards what Beethoven attempts to achieve: a higher level of aesthetic and an elevated experience; Perlman delivered!
Last on the program was Saint-Saens’ Sonata for violin & piano No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75. It was a befitting last closing piece considering it’s classic Sonata composition that bridges and cradles the Allegro to the Allegro molto with the the middle movements. It was simply beautiful playing.
But the evening was not over. Perlman was coaxed into playing no less than 5 encores! David Hendricks of the San Antonio Express-News wrote in a review the very next day, “Consummate showmanship, an emotional range a mile wide and an abundance of talent rose as the hallmarks of Itzhak Perlman’s recital Saturday night. Mozart’s K. 454 sonata swung from playful cat meows to a meditative middle section. The Beethoven “Eroica” marched with military pride before giving way to a quiet love song. Perlman and piano accompanist Rohan de Silva traded the musical spotlight in Saint-Saen’s Sonata No. 1. Five encores were accented by Perlman’s personality that captivated the audience as much as the music.”
Dr. Garverick, MacArthur Orchestra Director & Perlman Perlman and young fan.
It was close to 10pm and Mr. Perlman was unfazed. He graciously met backstage with a few die-hard fans and lucky Antonio Strad Violin customers who won via online entry in an intimate Meet and Greet reception. He remained highly energetic and allowed photos and autographs from all those who attended. It was yet another amazing opportunity for those attending, like the Gibbons family, who said, “..this was an event of a lifetime.” Churchill High School Orchestra Director, Jason Thibodeaux, also wrote in to say, “Thank you for the wonderful opportunity of the Perlman Concert…The students came back from the concert excited about their instruments and orchestra. It was an experience that the students and I will never forget. Thank you for your support of the school orchestra programs.”
It is precisely these reasons that we embarked on a quest to bring world-class violinist Itzhak Perlman to San Antonio. We wanted to share the excitement and artistry with area Educators, musicians, and students, who have dedicated their lives to music. We wanted to honor the music community by allowing unprecedented access to their hero. And by the overwhelming feedback from those who participated in one, two or all three legs of Mr. Perlman’s visit, we accomplished just that. Thank you to our community for helping us make this happen.
Antonio Strad Violin