Violinist Clara-Jumi Kang first started learning to play Bruch’s Violin Concerto at the age of 6. “It is such a beautiful, lyrical, romantic concerto yet very technically demanding,” she said via email from Korea. “It is one of my favorite romantic violin concertos.”
Kang is the symphony’s special guest soloist during today’s Bruch and Rachmaninov concert at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. She gives her rendition of this famous violin concerto, which was written during Bruch’s youth. Bruch began composing the piece at the age of 19, finished the first version nine years later and the final form when he was 30 years old. Joseph Joachim, the violinist to whom the concerto was dedicated, gave the successful premiere of the final version.
Kang, who last performed with the Santa Fe Symphony in May 2012, picked up her first violin at the age of 3 and was accepted to study with Dorothy Delay at The Juilliard School when she was 7 years old. She immediately began making solo appearances with major symphony orchestras and recorded Beethoven’s Triple Concerto by the age of 9.
After recuperating from a tragic accident involving one of her fingers when she was 11, Kang, who was born in Germany to Korean parents, enrolled at the Korean National University of Arts. She has won top prizes at the Tibor Varga Violin Competition in 2007, the Seoul Violin Competition in 2009, the Sendai Violin Competition in 2010 and International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in 2010.
Until recently Kang played the ex-Gingold Stradivarius 1683 violin on loan from the Indianapolis Violin Competition.
“I am currently playing on a violin generously on loan from Samsung Cultural Foundation Korea,” she said. “It’s the Joseph Guarnerius ‘Del Gesu’ 1725 Ex Moeller. I have been playing on it only since three months so I am still discovering the unique character of this great violin. I love how it responds to me and the tone quality.”
Next Sunday’s concert also features guest conductor Case Scaglione, who is the associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic, leading the symphony in performances of Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2.
Scaglione earned his bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music and did postgraduate studies at the Peabody Institute with Gustav Meier. As guest conductor, he has appeared with The Cleveland Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.
In 2011, the year in which he became associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Scaglione was the recipient of the conductor’s prize by the Solti Foundation.