Teen Noa Wildschut violinist makes debut at Heinz Hall
Family-friendly Thanksgiving weekend concerts are a distinctive feature of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra seasons under music director Manfred Honeck.
Honeck draws on his Austrian heritage in selecting music by the Strauss family and other Viennese composers, supplemented by other genres for evenings filled with bon-bons. A virtuoso instrumentalist or singer further the excitement.
This year, violin soloist Noa Wildschut will make her debut, Nov. 24 and 26 at Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall. To encourage making these concerts family events, the symphony is offering free tickets for children 6 to 18.
The music director first heard Dutch violinist Wildschut, now 16, two years ago when she came to play for him in Brussels, Belgium, while he and the orchestra were on a European tour. She made her debut on Dutch television when she was 6 and won numerous awards at a very young age.
Wildschut, who already has an exclusive recording contract with Warner Classics, chose two works to perform, which will showcase differing sides of her musical personality.
Maurice Ravel's fiendishly difficult and often wild “Tzigane,” which he was inspired to write after hearing a Hungarian classical violinist play gypsy music, and Ernest Chausson's “Poeme,” an exquisite example of French refinement and lyricism.
The centerpiece of the concert's Viennese repertoire is the “Emperor” Waltzes of Johann Strauss Jr. It was the last of the waltz king's masterpieces, written the year before he died.
“For me, this is a concept waltz,” Honeck says. “There are some waltzes Johann Strauss composed for dancing purposes and only for dancing.
“This has such enormous length and majesty it sounds like a palace with all its ornaments. It has a long introduction and coda with cello and horn solos. The instrumentation is great. I can't wait to do it.”
Other Viennese favorites will include the “Light Cavalry” Overture by Franz von Suppe, who was from Croatia, and “Gold and Silver” Waltz by Franz Lehar, composer of the operetta “The Merry Widow.”
Two of the three American pieces on program were composed by Leroy Anderson, who worked for Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops for many years. One is “The Typewriter,” an “instrument” which takes a solo percussion role from the sound of individual letters being hit plus a bell for carriage return at the end of a line.
Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.