VCU Symphony to perform Russian-written classics

Violinists in the Symphony Orchestra rehearse for the spring concert on March 6. Helen Stoddard.

Sarah King
Staff Writer

Winners of the annual concerto competition will have the chance to lead the VCU Symphony during their Russian-influenced concert on March 6 at the W.E. Singleton Center.

The performance will include music by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, as well as two pieces featuring french-horn player Kevin Newton and double bass player Vasilije Gagovic.

Symphony conductor Daniel Myssyk said the concert will bring Russian culture to the mainstage.

“I wanted to create a performance featuring composers from that country,” Myssyk said. “That’s a full symphonic music program featuring not only great Russian masters but also great composers who were very comfortable dealing with ballet music.”

The concerto and aria competition consists of a preliminary and final round, and the winner performs their concerto, piece or aria with the VCU Symphony. This year, Myssyk said the runner-up of the competition will also be included in the spring concert.

“The runner-up of the competition was so good we had to ensure that he would also play,” Myssyk said. “(Gagovic) will be playing a double bass concerto and that’s very interesting because you rarely hear a bass concerto. It’s really kind of less predictable, it’s uncommon territory and he’s playing magnificently.”

The symphony consists of about 60 members and auditions took place in late December. Myssyk said both music majors and non-majors alike were welcome to audition.

“Some really good kids are definitely out there, not necessarily majoring in music, but wish to continue in some musical activity, and for them orchestra is often the thing that they choose,” Myssyk said.

About 10 non-majors auditioned, and there are more non-majors among the orchestra players than any other year, Myssyk said. Performing in the orchestra counts as an elective credit for non-majors.

The orchestra averages about twelve rehearsals before performing, and rehearsals run twice a week for two and a half hours. The symphony performs twice each semester, and collaborates with VCU Opera for their spring production.

The March 6 concert will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall at the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, and is free for students with a VCU ID.

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