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An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

First People - The Legends. Cherokee Legend of Two Wolves. November 16, 2004. [accessed April 7, 2012].

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Maria Ioudenitch and her Violin Touch the Stars in First Concert of the 2012-2013 Prince George's Philharmonic Season

Maria Ioudenitch,
2012 Johansen International Competition and  soloist with the Prince George's Phil;harmonic Oct. 13, Bowie, MD, 2012

               Wow! Last night was the first concert of the 2012-2013 Prince George's Philharmonic season. I arrived with a minute to spare to a nearly packed house at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, Maryland. Finding a seat a few rows from the front on the far left, I was immediately standing for a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner that, for a moment, made me think, just for the briefest of moments, of  the play-offs I was not watching.  

               The first piece on the night's musical offerings was Wagner's 'Prelude to the Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg' (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg). Earlier, I had gently explained to some wary concert goers that fear of Wagner was unwarranted especially in this 10 minute or less beginning of a four hour plus masterpiece - no Valkyrie this night. Maestro Ellis started firmly and never lost his focus. The orchestra responded with precision and gust never losing its way. While I was expecting a faster tempo, once again Mr. Ellis' showed his artistic command of the music with his considered tempos that  allowed him to showcase the various sections of the orchestra from brass to strings, from percussion to woodwinds - woodwinds of which I will speak more later.   

               The beautiful tones, intonations, tempos, attacks of the orchestra in the Wagner set the stage for a truly thrilling performance of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64 by a dazzling virtuosa, Maria Ioudenitch, 2012 Johansen International Competition winner.  Mendelssohn, the child prodigy, left behind a glittering gift of music to the world of which his Violin Concerto is a supernova that exploded 167 years ago and never dimmed.  And last night, a second musical supernova, Maria Ioudenitch, partnered with Mendelssohn, Maestro Ellis and the Prince George's Philharmonic to create an awe inspiring musical moment.

               Maria Ioudenitch made the virtuosic passages melt with her artistry and held infinity in her grasp from her ricocheting arpeggios to when she reached upwards to shimmering overtones that shifted from reality to imagination and back again as if she were holding the universe on the head of a pin - one dared not take a breather. If you were not there, you missed an extraordinary half hour of technical mastery and emotional wizardry. I could feel the audience wanting to jump to its feet at the end of the first movement; and 'feeling' that Mr. Ellis must have anticipated this and was ready for it. He seamlessly brought the solo bassoon in just in time to hold the audience's emotions in check. Ms. Ioudenitch handling of the tremulous accompaniment near the end of the second movement perfectly framed the ensemble performance. The orchestra was brilliant when it needed to be, but did not over shadow the soloist. The structurally innovative concerto ended with fireworks that I only wish could have gone on forever. The stellar performance of Ms. Ioudenitch exceeds my paltry lexicon's ability to describe. The Prince George's Philharmonic's mastery of the music permitted them to excel as a matched musical partner in their bravura performance highlighting not only the soloist but their own individual and technical artistry.    

               And then it was intermission - the perfect place for me to single out the woodwind section for the exceptional performance throughout the evening, both in its ensemble work as well as when each addressed a solo part.  

               And then came the mighty Fourth of Tchaikovsky. The "Fate" Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36 is a technical virtuosic series of Mt. Everests for a conductor and his orchestra. The one-of-a-kind internal structure demands that the conductor internalize both the emotion and the rationale or logic of the entire piece. The danger is allowing either to overpower the other. And if this were not a large enough challenge, the orchestra itself is faced with myriad technical challenges that would tax the concentration of the conductor in any case.

               The performance had multiple moments of stunning electric, knock-you-off-your-seat, emotional punches. The famous sonic slam that starts the fourth movement was physically in your face as it should be - everyone "felt" the music and "got" the point. The strings were absolutely on point in the third movement.  Displaying "dazzling deftness straight from Mendelssohn", the strings collaborated with the on-a-roll woodwinds in a bravura performance. The pizzicato work of the strings in the scherzo produced a balalaika sound that shifted and shimmered back and forth across the stage adding a spatial dimension to sound. The brass rose to the occasion many times to reinforce the up-close-and personal possibilities inherent in the score. When partnered with artistic and technical artistry of the percussion section the result really did reach out and grab me. Wow comes to mind.

               And so I try to address that uneasy feeling I had from the very beginning when the fanfare attack was off for a split second right at the very beginning. This is the classic example of the technical difficulties of the 4th. You cannot go back and you cannot hide, but you can close ranks and use the structure, the intellectual logic of the piece, to move on and reach the mountain top. Associate conductor of the Prince George's Philharmonic, Shawn Storer, was forthright in his opening remarks that he and the orchestra would explore the emotional moments of the 4th Symphony. He told us that the famous chords at the opening repeated throughout the composition follow Beethoven's famous 5th knock on the door but in this case the chord of fate break the door down. This is a great picture, however I think Mr. Storer took some of the door jam with him in his forceful emotional demands of his orchestra. I had the distinct feeling that if only the orchestra could find additional funding through subscriptions etc. that would allow one more rehearsal, the small nagging problems of attack and intonation would have been easily overcome. I would love to hear Mr. Storer's performance once he had full control of his musical machine. It was if as if he were racing in a Maserati for the very first time on a brand new race track. Faced with adjusting the performance of his machine to the needs of the race, Mr. Storer had to keep down shifting to stay on the track.

               Fate, as it were, kept us from hearing what surely would have been an exceptional performance from an artist with musical ideas to share with us. So although I was trying to figure out exactly what was off throughout the entire piece, I was at the same time often brought close enough to the mountain top to see what Mr. Storer was trying to share. I am eager to hear him again and to go with him on another musical adventure of the first rank.   


post scriptum: Maria Ioudenitch Plays During a Lesson
LauraSpencer 5 months ago 

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