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Backstage Passport: Yuriy's Musical Adventures

From Yuriy Bekker:

It has been a couple of weeks since my last entry (read Yuriy's first post here), so I thought it would be a good time to update you on my musical endeavors and travels. Boy, does time fly! I am playing so much great music, visiting beautiful places, eating delicious Austrian food, and sipping some amazing Austrian beer. 

One of the highlights of the summer for me was performing alongside one of the most renowned American Wagnerian sopranos, Linda Watson. She sings regularly with major opera companies such as the Bayreuth Festival and the Vienna State Opera and performed the role of Marschallin in several scenes from Der Rosenkavalier with the AIMS orchestra. She has an amazingly powerful, gorgeous voice and all I could say was, "Wow." If I did not have the violin under my chin, my jaw would have dropped. It was a great honor to share the stage with her and it was a memorable performance for me.  

On that program we also played Strauss' tone poem Don Juan. It is a great piece of music and is also very familiar to string players because it comes up at almost every major audition. The whole first page of this piece is the actual audition excerpt and the group played it very well. Then on page two of the piece, there is a short concertmaster solo that is quite beautiful but very hard. The solo comes out of nowhere and the first note is a  high C sharp, up in the violin stratosphere. The challenge is to play in tune; otherwise, it's noticeably bad. I think it went quite well. 
Yuriy in Stefaniensaal 
The concert took place in the beautiful Stefaniensaal, which has the most amazing acoustics. The Graz Opera Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe perform there regularly over the course of the year. While the AIMS orchestra plays in many different venues in Graz, playing in Stefaniensaal is always special for us. Playing there made me very excited that the Charleston Symphony will  have a new home in the newly-renovated Gaillard Center in just a few years. 
On our first free weekend during the festival, Jenny and I decided to go to Italy by car. We lucked out with the rental company and were offered a Mini Cooper, which was perfect for the narrow streets of Italy. We wanted to see as much of Northern Italy as we could, and having a car allowed us to do just that. Our first stop was Lago di Garda (Garda Lake), a breathtaking lake surrounded by Alpine mountains. The photos we took do not do justice to this place. The lake is surrounded by many small towns so we spent a day driving from town to town trying their cappuccinos and enjoying the scenery. I really enjoyed driving on road SP38, a narrow road winding around the mountains with many switchbacks. The road is famous because the latest James Bond movie and many European car commercials were filmed there. Jenny stopped me from going too fast because she was concerned about our safety, but I still had a great time driving a manual Mini through the Alpine curves. 
Yuriy and Jenny at Lago di Garda
Our next stop was Verona. Though we were only there for a short night, we fell in love with this charming city. The main reason we went was to see the opera Aida at the Arena, Verona's ancient Roman ampitheatre that holds 15,000 people. Pl├ícido Domingo conducted and the production was so elaborate - it was an incredible experience. Our final stop on this trip was to Bologna. The city is known for its beautiful architecture and amazing cuisine and it did not disappoint. There is a reason why people call Bologna the "Fat City" because their food is truly delicious. We thoroughly enjoyed all types of tagliatelle, tortelloni, and Bolognese sauce and also tried to follow up our meals with a lot of walking. All in all, our weekend trip to Italy was an unforgettable experience. 
Well, by the time this is posted, I may have already returned from the festival. I am very happy to get home to Charleston and start CSO's 2012-13 season. During the summer months, our staff does a lot of work planning for all the concerts. As we are doing all the planning, I cannot help but be very excited about our programs, guest conductors, and guest artists. It will be such a great season and a lot of fun. 
Posted: 8/21/2012 by | with 2 comment(s)
George Jefferson
Good to know you doing your music that is your passions and visiting places where great music was born.Your Spirit is much alive with all Master's of Music...still yet you are missed on campus...enjoy your journey,honor all with your playing of your music to your understanding...
8/24/2012 8:28:21 PM

Sandra Gordon
I loved "hearing from" Yuriy and Jenny. It felt like an intimate letter to someone back home. Terrific.
8/23/2012 12:45:53 PM

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