JOHNSON CITY (January 28, 2013) – Internationally renowned violinist Brian Lewis will open the spring 2013 season for East Tennessee State University’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts this weekend with a public concert and master classes.
Lewis will perform in concert Friday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Johnson City’s First Presbyterian Church, 105 S. Boone St. He will be accompanied by pianist Dr. Chih-Long Hu, ETSU associate professor of Music. The following day, Saturday, Feb. 2, Lewis will hold master classes and talks starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian.
Lewis is concertmaster of a chamber orchestra in Houston and artistic director of a symposium on Violin Studies at The Juilliard School in New York and the Starling Distinguished Violinist Series at Butler School of Music at University of Texas-Austin. In addition to his professorship at University of Texas, the Juilliard graduate is also a visiting professor at Yale School of Music.
This violin virtuoso traverses the world, performing solo and with orchestras in American venues, such as Carnegie and Avery Fisher halls and Lincoln Center, and such international locales as Germany, Peru, Taiwan, France, Australia, Brazil and Canada. Lewis, who hails from a family of violinists, started touring at age 9.
“There are a lot of fine violinists on the concert stage today, but few can match Lewis for an honest virtuosity that supremely serves the music,” said a review in the Topeka Capital-Journal. “This is artistry that isn't to be missed."
Lewis is known not only for his virtuoso performances, but also for his diverse and adventurous repertoire and ability to communicate with audiences of all ages. The Feb. 1 performance will include Mozart’s “Sonata No. 5” and Brahms’ “Sonata No. 2,” both in A major, along with a number of smaller pieces, including Aaron Copland’s “Hoe-Down” from “Rodeo,” “Banjo and Fiddle” by William Kroll, “Sicilienne” by Maria Theresia von Paradis and “Four Pieces for Violin and Piano” by Joseph Suk.
“I am so happy that Brian chose this repertoire,” says Hu, who will perform with Lewis for the first time. “These pieces have so much different color and texture, and fun, too. I am very much looking forward to how he will interpret so many different styles and textures.
“His last two pieces (‘Banjo and Fiddle’ and ‘Hoe-Down’) are very interesting choices. They show his interest in the bluegrass and Appalachian heritage of this area. I am sure people will be able to feel the joy of these pieces.”
Tim Barrett, executive and artistic director of the Tri-Cities Academy of Strings, recommended the artist/educator to Mary B. Martin School Director Anita DeAngelis, based on his experiences at Lewis’ violin symposia in New York and Kansas, Lewis’ home state.
“Although he is young, Brian is already becoming known for his great violin pedagogy,” Barrett says. “Brian Lewis is passing that torch (of Juilliard violin teacher Dorothy DeLay) on. I think he is going to become one of the most legendary violin teachers. Students are turning down full scholarships to Juilliard to study with Brian Lewis.”
The Academy of Strings is coordinating the day of master classes and lecture on Feb. 2 at First Presbyterian Church. Lewis will conduct violin master classes from 10 a.m.-noon and 2:30-4:30 p.m., as well as a noon-1 p.m. talk on modern violin performance. These are free and open to the public.
“We are hoping it will be very inclusive, not exclusive,” says Barrett, who has reached out to youth orchestras and high school string programs, as well as collegiate programs at such institutions as the University of Tennessee School of Music, Furman and Appalachian State universities. “We are hoping to have quite a lot of college students. We don’t want it to be just an Academy of Strings event.”
The Brian Lewis event combines several mission objectives for Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, DeAngelis says.
“Not only does Brian Lewis’ visit provide learning opportunities for ETSU students and enhance the efforts of our music department to bolster its strings program,” she says, “but we also are thrilled when we have a chance to respond to a request and partner with a community organization, such as the Academy of Strings and Tim and Kim Barrett and their students.
“Plus, it’s good for us to have a concert like this – a more intimate performance with just Lewis and Chih-Long. (It is) a little different from bringing in a full-fledged ensemble.”
Tickets for the Feb. 1 concert are $5 for all area students with a valid student ID, $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors 60 and over. Group discounts are available for general admission and senior tickets.
For tickets, special assistance for those with disabilities, or more information about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, call (423) 439-TKTS (8587) or visit http://www.etsu.edu/cas/arts. “Like” ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts on Facebook and follow it on Twitter at TheArtsAtETSU.
For more information on Lewis, visit http://brianlewisviolin.com.