Violinist Pinchas Zukerman to commemorate Beethoven's birth

by Shera Bhala | 11/12/19 2:05am

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This evening, the Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman will give a performance in Dartmouth’s Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center. Known as a master violinist, Zukerman’s impressive career has spanned five decades. Joining him onstage will be acclaimed pianist Angela Cheng. Bringing together these talented musicians will likely produce a memorable performance.

Zukerman and Cheng will unite to perform an all-Beethoven program in honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, according to Hop publicity coordinator Rebecca Bailey. The great German composer and pianist composed 10 violin sonatas with piano accompaniment in total between the years of 1798 and 1812. The two musicians will play three of these sonatas — “Sonata No. 1” in D major, “Sonata No. 3” in E-flat major and “Sonata No. 5” in F major — all of which Cheng described as incredibly interesting works from the early period of Beethoven’s career.  

Known as the “Spring Sonata,” “Sonata No. 5” is probably the most popular of Beethoven’s violin sonatas because of its incredible beauty, Cheng said. The “Spring Sonata” was dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries, a patron of Beethoven. Along with the other two sonatas, “Sonata No. 5” will be a wonderful and exciting way to celebrate Beethoven’s special anniversary. 

Zukerman’s musicianship and remarkable career are sure to do justice to Beethoven’s work. Born in Tel Aviv, Zukerman began his musical studies at a young age, quickly excelling at playing the violin. He subsequently moved to the United States to study at the Juilliard School, learning from violin teacher Ivan Galamian. Receiving numerous prestigious awards, including the America-Israel Cultural Foundation’s King Solomon Award, the Isaac Stern Award for Artistic Excellence in Classical Music, the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan and two Grammy awards, Zukerman established himself as a renowned violinist. 

As a conductor, Zukerman led the English Chamber Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and he currently serves as the principal guest conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. He also conducts the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz in Germany and is lauded for his conducting facilities. 

Zukerman also dedicates himself to teaching and has served as a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music for over 25 years. During his tenure, he established the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program, advocating for young musicians. He is also a teacher for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, which supports the next generation of talented artists. 

Zukerman’s recording career of over 100 albums receives ongoing fame. Known for his eloquent lyricism, beautiful tone and impeccable skill, Zukerman is a veritable virtuoso. He possesses a wide-ranging repertoire that features incredible dynamics, mastery and his famed silvery tone.

The violin talent of Zukerman will be complemented by the piano mastery of Angela Cheng. A native of Hong Kong, Cheng moved to Canada at age 11 and then studied at the Julliard School as well. She is an experienced recitalist and has performed as a soloist with over 100 orchestras. These experiences include the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. She has also traveled throughout the world to perform, most recently returning to her roots in Hong Kong, playing as a soloist and with an orchestra. 

A devoted teacher as well, Cheng is a professor of piano at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She also teaches master classes throughout North America and Asia, inspiring young musical minds. 

Celebrated for her brilliant skill and enchanting tone, Cheng was the first Canadian to win the Montreal International Piano Competition, and she was also given the Oberlin 2011-12 Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Cheng has played with Zukerman for over a decade, previously touring Europe and China as a member of the Zukerman Chamber Players. Additionally, Cheng, Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth comprise the Zukerman Trio, which performs at major venues throughout Europe. In June 2020, Cheng said she will perform with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, playing Beethoven’s “Triple Concerto” for violin, piano and cello, along with a solo recital.

Cheng spoke highly of Zukerman and their many years of performing together.

“It is a blessing and privilege to play with [Zukerman],” Cheng said. “He is a real master and an incredible musician. I’ve learned a great deal from him. One’s music is a reflection of oneself, and Zukerman is incredibly generous and I admire everything that he does. Playing with him has opened my ears and opened my heart to this incredible music.” 

Cheng said she is particularly excited to perform tonight’s program with Zukerman at Dartmouth.

“I have heard so much about [Dartmouth] and I am very curious and looking forward to coming and performing with Mr. Zukerman,” Cheng said. “Student audiences are great, because they are full of energy and they are open to ideas. To play for young people is very exciting.”

Also enthusiastic about the upcoming performance is Filippo Ciabatti, the director of the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra. He said he has witnessed and admired Zukerman’s mastery many times before in performances all across the world, including in Italy and Chicago. 

“The performance will have the fantastic repertoire of Beethoven that is classic, beautiful, and in a way, immortal,” Ciabatti said. “The music of Beethoven always has this universal quality; it really belongs to all of us. It is very refined but also profoundly human. I am looking forward to a performance of very compelling music that is emotional in a direct way, like all the music of Beethoven.”

Zukerman and Cheng’s performance is sure to attract a large audience and plentiful praise. This is a wonderful opportunity to witness the violin virtuoso and his universally-acclaimed talent, and the all-Beethoven program will be dynamic, touching and remarkable. 

Zukerman could not be reached for an interview.