Leonidas Kavakos has regretfully withdrawn from his performances of Korngold’s Violin Concerto on June 7, 9 & 10 due to illness. Replacing him is Seattle Symphony Principal Second Violin Elisa Barston, who will perform Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Orchestra.
What’s it like to find out you’ll be soloing with the Orchestra with a few days’ notice? We chatted with Barston after she met with guest conductor Jesús López-Cobos and got the inside scoop.
You got word that you might be playing this on Monday, and you got the go-ahead call just this morning [Tuesday]. So — surprise! — you’re playing a concerto in two days. But you’ve played this concerto before, correct?
Yes. I played it with the University of Washington Symphony with Jonathan Pasternack conducting, and that was last spring. These phone calls are the things you dream your whole life of getting. I had just finished some big projects and was having some downtime, and suddenly, of course, the call comes then. It’s both exciting and nerve-wracking.
So what does your schedule look like for the next two days?
Well, thanks to Elena [Dubinets, Vice President of Artistic Planning] and Keith [Higgins, Personnel Manager] my schedule has been cleared out — it’s very helpful. I don’t have to come to work to rehearse the whole program with the Symphony because now I’m suddenly the soloist. So, all I’m going to be doing is listening to the recording, studying the score, listening to the recording with the score, practicing as much as I can and getting some sleep. I’ll be absolutely trying to immerse myself in this piece. I will be sleeping with the score — it will be attached to me at all moments.
What is unique about Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1? What draws you to it?
It has always been one of my favorite pieces. It’s got many high, shimmery, truly ethereal moments. The whole opening and the way it ends is just heavenly. Really heavenly. And then it’s got this demonic scherzo movement that’s just a beast. It’s like somebody let the beast out of the cage in that short movement, and the outer movements are slower, but with exciting sections. It’s a short concerto, but it packs a lot of interest and beautiful melodies. I always wanted to learn it.
You met with Guest Conductor Jesús López-Cobos this morning to go over the concerto. What’s it like working with him so far?
He seems like an absolute sweetheart so far, and he’s very smart. He had me come in this morning to work on the piece together. He seems very wise and also extremely laid back. I think he’s going to be very fun to work with, and I’m excited to work with him because I heard his name for many years — he used to be the Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony — but I never actually met him or got to work with him before, so it’s exciting to finally have the opportunity.
Got a penchant for Prokofiev? Looking forward to the Spanish flair of Turina’s Danzas fantásticas and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol? Down with (R. Strauss’) Don Juan? Get your tickets to Thursday’s, Saturday’s or Sunday’s concert here.