Legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman kicks off the UMW Philharmonic’s 49th season this fall. Concerts continue through the spring with an appearance by Mary Washington’s new artist-in-residence, as well as a tribute to American icon Norman Rockwell and an actor-led celebration of national treasures from Abraham Lincoln to America’s pastime. The series runs October through April in Dodd Auditorium.
The first artist to return to campus in the 15 years of UMW’s Celebrity Concert Series, Perlman will join the Philharmonic to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto on Saturday, October 26. The program also includes Elgar’s Enigma Variations.
“The audience was astonished at the sound he got from [his 1714 Stradivarius],” said UMW Philharmonic Conductor Kevin Bartram, after Perlman played to a sold-out crowd of 1,300 in the packed Dodd Auditorium five years ago. “Even professional violinists are stunned by his capacity to achieve such a sound. The experience of performing such a demanding work with a living legend will remain with us the rest of our lives.”
From playing for world leaders and royalty to appearing on Sesame Street, Perlman enjoys a superstar status rarely afforded a classical musician. He has received four Emmy Awards throughout his illustrious career, and his chart-topping recordings have earned him 15 Grammy Awards. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan honored Perlman with a Medal of Liberty, and in 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Perlman the National Medal of Arts.
The season continues on Friday, Dec. 6 with Holiday Pops: Winter Wonderland, featuring both traditional holiday favorites and beautiful new arrangements. In the festively decked hall, the UMW Philharmonic will delight audiences with seasonal sounds, singalongs and perhaps even an appearance by Santa Claus himself.
An internationally acclaimed violinist who amazed the Fredericksburg community last spring with her electric energy and stellar musicianship, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg returns to Mary Washington – but this time, as UMW’s first-ever artist-in-residence.
“I wanted an opportunity to have her return year after year, so we actually created an orchestra just for her,” said Bartram, commenting that the musicians in the hand-picked ensemble learned a great deal under Salerno-Sonnenberg’s tutelage last April. She will lead the new UMW Chamber Orchestra on Sunday, February 16.
Norman Rockwell’s nostalgic works graced the pages of The Saturday Evening Post for nearly half a century and still leave viewers yearning for a simpler time. The Fredericksburg community will have the opportunity to see the beloved American artist’s paintings and illustrations and listen to a piece inspired by his work on Saturday, March 21 when the UMW Philharmonic performs Rockwell Reflections by Stella Sung. Abigail Rockwell, the artist’s granddaughter and the nation’s foremost authority on his work, will provide narration. The program will also include Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
The UMW Philharmonic concludes its season on Friday, April 24 with Made in America featuring Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait. Joining the Philharmonic onstage is noted film actor Dennis Quaid, who has charmed audiences with his roles in Postcards from the Edge, Wyatt Earp, Great Balls of Fire!, Something to Talk About, The Rookie and A Dog’s Purpose.
The Philharmonic will perform the original version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” with vocals by Quaid. This 1908 Vaudeville arrangement is a part of Bartram’s “Unearthing America’s Musical Treasures” research project with UMW students to resurrect lost or forgotten musical gems from our nation’s past. The Library of Congress does not currently possess the orchestral version of the piece, so the performance will be recorded.
Bartram, who is also organizing a nine-day overseas tour for the Philharmonic next May, said he feels that this season is the best yet. “There were a lot of puzzle pieces that had to come together. They all have.”
Now in its 49th year, the UMW Philharmonic consists of both UMW students and members of the Fredericksburg community. The ensemble draws top talent to the region, including last season’s lineup of American singing icon Paul Anka, travel guru Rick Steves, Star Trek actor and Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and violin virtuoso Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. In the last year, Friends of the Philharmonic awarded more than $80,000 to student scholarships, helping UMW to attract and retain the very best student musicians.
Tickets for the Celebrity Concert Series performance with Itzhak Perlman go on sale on Sept. 16 for Friends and donors, and on Sept. 23 for the general public. Contact the Philharmonic office at (540) 654-1324 with questions or for a season brochure.