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Verde Valley Sinfonietta ‘Emerging Artist’ concert scheduled April 2

Kevin Kozacek (left) and David Kwak

Kevin Kozacek (left) and David Kwak

Originally Published: March 27, 2017 1:18 p.m.

The Verde Valley Sinfonietta will present its annual “Emerging Artist” concert on April 2nd at 2:30 PM at the Sedona Performing Arts Center at 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road in Sedona.

The concert is the orchestra’s final performance of the 2016-2017 season and features two visiting artists - David Kwak, 15-year-old violin prodigy, and guest conductor Kevin Kozacek.

Kwak is a resident of Phoenix who studies at the Juilliard Pre-College School in New York. Kozacek is music director/conductor of the North Valley Symphony Orchestra in Phoenix.

The concert is sponsored by Neil and Mary Pope of Sedona. General admission tickets are $30.00 at the door for adults and $25.00 if purchased online in advance at www.VVSinfonietta.org. Students age 18 and under are free of charge when accompanied by an adult.

On the program for the April 2 concert are three works from the standard orchestral repertory, all from the French Romantic tradition - Bizet’s Symphony in C, Hérold’s Overture to Zampa and the Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61. Bizet and Saint-Saëns were child prodigies in their day, so it is fitting that they are programmed on the Sinfonietta’s traditional “emerging artist” concert.

Violinist David Kwak was born in Seoul, Korea. He began his violin studies in Arizona with Susanne Rothaar and currently studies with Li Lin in New York. David has been a prizewinner in many solo competitions including 1st Place in the 2013 American Protégé International Concerto Competition and 2nd Place in the International Piano and Strings Competition. He made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2013.

David was a member of the 2015 Perlman Summer Music Program, where he studied violin with Itzhak Perlman, Catherine Cho, and Li Lin and chamber music with Merry Peckham. David was a member of the Phoenix Youth Symphony program, where he served as concertmaster, and is a former member of the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.

In addition to playing the violin, he also loves composing and conducting. Outside of music, David engages in mathematics and philosophy. As part of his work in Sedona David will visit schoolrooms of string students at Sedona Charter School and at Sedona Red Rock High School.

Guest conductor Kevin Kozacek is the third candidate to audition with the Sinfonietta this season for appointment as the orchestra’s music director. He received both his Master of Education and Master of Music degrees from Northern Arizona University, studying orchestral conducting under Dr. Nicholas Ross and Dr. Daniel O’Bryant.

He has additionally studied conducting under Maestros Lawrence Golan, Don Thulean, App Hsu, Harold Farberman, Raymond Harvey and Zvonimir Hacko. Mr. Kozacek has guest conducted orchestras in Kiev, Ukraine and Krasnoyarsk, Russia, and been invited to conduct workshops and high school honor orchestras in local Arizona school districts.

Mr. Kozacek taught public school music in grades K-12, and directed theater, instrumental ensembles and choral groups in churches and communities in England, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas and Arizona. He was the founding Artistic Director for ProMusica Arizona Chorale & Orchestra, and was invited in 2012 to serve as the founding Music Director for North Valley Symphony Orchestra in Phoenix.

The program opens with the Overture to Zampa by Ferdinand Hérold. While the once popular opera, Zampa, is seldom performed in our times, the overture has remained a gem in the orchestra repertory. It features a clarinet solo and reflects the many moods of the opera.

The Symphony in C by Georges Bizet follows. The symphony is less known than Bizet’s popular opera, Carmen, or his L’Arlesienne Suites, yet it has earned its rightful place as a mainstay in the current symphonic repertory. Composed when Bizet was only 17, it contains many similarities to a symphony by Charles Gounod, Bizet’s teacher at the Paris Conservatory. For that reason Bizet kept the symphony out of the public eye during his lifetime. Its premiere took place in 1935, 82 years after Bizet’s death, and long after his widow had discovered the manuscript and brought it forward for donation to the Paris Conservatory archives.

The Symphony in C is written in the traditional four-movement symphonic form and is cherished for its beautiful melodies, rich orchestration, and charming elegance.

The Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61 by Camille Saint-Saëns, is at the heart of the violin concerto repertory. The work was written in 1880 and premiered by Pablo de Sarasate, a famous Spanish virtuoso violinist. The work, known for its virtuosic lyricism, is often referred to as “the Sarasate” and is now one of the most popular violin concertos in the repertory.

Camille Saint-Saëns, besides being a prolific composer, was an author of books on music and on subjects as diverse as philosophy, painting, literature, and the theater. He was also a linguist and world traveler. Melodies flowed from him effortlessly; his grasp of form and orchestration demonstrated craftsmanship of the highest order. Saint-Saëns once wrote: “The artist who does not feel completely satisfied by elegant lines, by harmonious colors, and by a beautiful succession of chords does not understand the art of music.” Saint-Saëns was a traditionalist during a time of foment in the musical world. He mounted a campaign against teaching music in the style of Richard Wagner, and even denounced Stravinsky as a madman.

The concert caps an exciting 12th season for the Sinfonietta. It has been a year of change and bringing the musical community together to help in the decision-making for a music director. Following the intermission, there will be a drawing for the winner of the Big Apple Raffle for a week in New York City including $2000 in cash and restaurant gift certificates. Two events will conclude the season. On April 15 “Starlight Serenade” will be held at a signature Sedona home and on April 23 the annual “Music in the Garden Tea.” Information about the raffle is available from Linda Warren at njracefans@yahoo.com. Ticket and additional information about the concert and events is available on the Sinfonietta website, VVSinfonietta.org.