Violinist Chee-Yun joins Scott Speck and WMS for long-awaited concert

Vivaldi and Piazzolla Four Seasons will be offered as online video concert

Muskegon, Michigan, July 7, 2020—Originally slated for a mid-May live appearance, violinist Chee-Yun will at long last perform with Music Director Scott Speck and West Michigan Symphony in a video webcast premiering 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 17.  Featuring Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, the concert—filmed on the Frauenthal Center stage in a session closed to the public—will be available to subscribers and other ticket holders in the WMS’s online Virtual Concert Hall.  For more information or to sign up for a $50 VCH Pass, call 231.726.3231 or visit www.westmichigansymphony.org.

In the wake of the current health crisis, West Michigan Symphony has been actively developing ways to continue bringing music to the community—during a time when it is arguably needed more than ever.  Last month saw the first of a new series of video concerts produced in collaboration with local filmographer Arvin Candelaria and including sound engineering by Blue Lake Public Radio’s Steve Albert. The initial result was described by participants as “like being among the musicians” and having the orchestra “in our living room.” The Muskegon Times cited the event as “representative of an organization determined to provide music for a community wading through deep uncertainty surrounding our health and economy.”

The upcoming video concert is an even more significant artistic undertaking, featuring an internationally acclaimed guest artist, a full-length program, and a larger string-only ensemble. As with the previous production, WMS will observe safety protocols during the rehearsals and filming established in cooperation with the Frauenthal Center management.  Each player will be checked for symptoms and temperatures taken before admission to the venue—which remains closed to the public.

The program features a classic from the earliest days of symphonic music—Vivaldi’s beloved The Four Seasons circa 1717—and “tango king” Astor Piazzolla’s colorful Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, composed between 1965 and 1970.  The work was originally scored for the classic Piazzolla combo of violin, piano, electric guitar, double bass and bandoneón.  In 1998 Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov arranged the four pieces for violin solo and string orchestra.

Each piece includes quotations from the Vivaldi.  However, due to the inverted relationship between seasons in the southern and northern hemispheres, the quotations within each Piazzolla “season” are drawn from the opposing Vivaldi “season.” For example, Piazzolla’s Verano (summer) includes a quote from Vivaldi’s L’inverno (winter).  Scott Speck has taken this interconnectedness several steps further by blending the two works into a single, extended canvas: he will alternate between the two composers, beginning with Vivaldi’s Spring, then performing Piazzolla’s Summer; moving on to Vivaldi’s Summer, then Piazzolla’s Autumn, and so forth.

Korean-born violinist Chee-Yun has toured the United States with the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas and Japan with the NHK Symphony, among many others. Her recent recording of the Penderecki Violin Concerto No. 2 on Naxos was acclaimed as “an engrossing, masterly performance” (The Strad) and “a performance of staggering virtuosity and musicality” (American Record Guide).  Her beautiful violin, crafted in 1669 by Francesco Ruggieri, is in such amazing condition that it is rumored to have been buried with its original owner for more than 200 years.  

Although The Block remains closed to audience members due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Scott Speck will host Chee-Yun for a virtual Lunch ‘n Learn at 12 noon on Wednesday, July 15, which will air on the WMS Facebook page and in WMS’s free, open-to-all website Listening Room.

Following the Lunch ‘n Learn, prizewinning young pianist Lydia Seaver of  Montague will perform a solo piano program, including excerpts from Beethoven’s Third Piano Sonata and Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, along with works by Bach, Chopin, Schumann and Copland. A student of Dr. Sookkyung Cho, Seaver enters the music program at Grand Valley State University this fall. She won first place at the recent St. Cecilia Philharmonic Piano Concerto Competition and at the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Piano Concerto Competition, among other awards and honors.

Passes for the WMS video concert featuring Chee-Yun are priced at $50. To purchase, call 231.726.3231.  Patrons who sign up will receive an email with a link and password to access the Virtual Concert Hall.