Lawrence University violinist Wen-Lei Gu will be the guest soloist Saturday, Oct. 7 when the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra opens its 2017-18 season with an all-Russian program. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be held at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton.
Tickets are available through the PAC’s ticket office, 920-730-3760.
Gu, an award-winning and internationally popular soloist, will be featured in a performance of Shostakovich’s emotionally challenging and technically brilliant Violin Concerto No. 1.
Brian Groner, the FVS’s music director since 1995, calls Gu “phenomenal” and says he was “charmed” the first time he had a chance to hear her play.
“Her playing was (and remains) so elegant and so sophisticated,” says Groner. “It has been my distinct privilege to work with her on almost 10 different occasions.’
A native of China, Gu came to the United States as a 13-year old after winning first-place prizes in both violin and piano state competitions at age seven. When she was 12, she was named gold medalist in China’s Fourth National Violin Competition.
Gu, an associate professor of music, joined the Lawrence faculty in 2006. She has performed throughout the world, including the Bach Festival at Carnegie Hall in commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s death, the Kennedy Center for the Millennium Concert Series as a guest soloist with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and China Beijing Philharmonic on concert tours of Europe.
About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.
Violinist Rachel Barton Pine brings her dazzling technique and joyous tone to classical and contemporary music Saturday, Feb. 6 in the second concert of Lawrence University’s four-part 2015-16 Artist Series.
The performance, which includes pianist Matthew Hagle, begins at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors and $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.
Praised for her ability to connect with others through her music as a powerful, emotional and dynamic artist, Pine’s performance range spans a wide spectrum. She has appeared as a soloist with many world-renowned ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic. She also has jammed with the likes of Slash of Guns N’ Roses and other rock and metal stars.
Associate Professor Samantha George, who teaches violin in the Lawrence Conservatory, hailed Pine as a “generous and flexible musician.”
“I have been a fan of Rachel Barton Pine’s for many years,” said George. “I am always impressed by her ability to play the most difficult passagework with sophisticated phrasing and gesture.”
George fondly recalled Pine’s versatility during a Chicago concert she attended.
“The first 45 minutes Rachel performed with a small baroque ensemble. Then a full orchestra appeared and she performed as soloist, playing Vivaldi’s ‘Concerto for Four Violins’ and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. After a set change, Rachel reappeared with her rock band and sounded fantastic all amped up. I was blown away.”
Pine has recorded more than 25 albums, featuring classical favorites, contemporary artists and neglected historical pieces. Her 2013 CD, “Violin Lullabies,” recorded with Hagle, debuted at number one on the Billboard classical chart.
Last September, Cedille Records released Pine’s recording of “Vivaldi: The Complete Viola D’Amore Concertos with Ars Antigua” while Avie Records will release Pine’s performance of J.S. Bach’s “Six Sonatas and Partitas for Violin” this March. That disc was recorded in the same church in which Pine first heard the music of Bach live, and experience that helped her fall in love with the violin at age three.
“I am always impressed by her ability to play the most difficult passagework with sophisticated phrasing and gesture.” — Samantha George
The product of an unstable childhood in a working-class Chicago family, Pine has been called “indomitable,” in part for her struggles after a horrific train accident which severed her left leg and severely injured her right foot.
For her part, Pine has refused to let those challenges derail her musical career.
“I don’t dwell on what I can’t, so I dwell on what I can do,” she told the Lansing State Journal in January 2016. “I’m a Midwesterner and I believe in hard work. I have red hair and good fingers. I can stand on a stage and play all 24 Paganini Caprices and not many other people can do that.”
In addition to performing, Pine spends her time teaching and helping talented young musicians with their expenses through the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation, which she started in 2011.
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.