Violinist Erika Raum, who made her professional debut at age 12 and is now a highly acclaimed guest soloist around the world, has a busy weekend ahead of her. First, she’s one of the star attractions at Fresno State’s sixth annual Violin and Viola Festival, which includes master classes and a Saturday public performance. Then, on Sunday, Raum will play the Mendelssohn violin concerto in the annual gala “Love Conquers All” concert with the Youth Orchestras of Fresno.
Here are 5 Things to Know about this talented musician and her Fresno-area concerts.
Like seemingly every talented string player in the whole wide world, Raum has a personal connection to Fresno. In this case, it’s Fresno State professor Limor Toren-Immerman, music director for the violin and viola festival, and Thomas Loewenheim, music director of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno.
“I met Limor way back in 2002 at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada. I was teaching there, alongside my former teacher Lorand Fenyves, who was a tremendous teacher and violinist of Hungarian/Israeli origin. Limor came to study with him, and we wound up hitting it off. And it turns out — we discovered last night over dinner — that Thomas and I had drinks with our mutual friend and brilliant pianist, Walter Delahunt, after a concert we gave way back in 2000 in St. John’s Newfoundland. It took us a while to piece it together, but it seems the three of us had quite a great conversation over an abundance of Newfoundland beer! Probably why it was hard to remember all the details…”
Talent runs in her family.
Raum’s mother, Elizabeth, a composer, wrote the piece “Duo for Two Violins” for her daughter.
“She has a personal preference for music that exhibits the more traditional elements of melody, more traditional structures,” Raum says of her mother, who lives in Toronto. “You could even describe it as romantic. It gives the performer a chance to really be expressive.”
You can hear her play the piece at the festival’s Chamber Music Gala Concert, which will take place 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Fresno State Concert Hall. Other pieces on the program include Mendelssohn’s “String Quintet,” Mozart’s “Divertimento” and Schubert’s “Quartettsatz.”
She isn’t the only “big name” to join the Fresno State festival.
Violist Michael Chang, an alum of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, performs at Saturday’s concert. Though Raum and Chang have never performed together, they’ve already hit it off musically. “We’ve rehearsed a bit, and it’s been effortless,” Raum says. “He’s a gorgeous player, and a very intuitive, very generous chamber musician.”
At Sunday’s “Love Conquers All” concert (7 p.m. at Shaghoian Hall), which features a “sumptuous dessert auction, perfectly timed for pre-Valentine’s Day purchases,” according to organizers, the Mendelssohn violin concerto will be a highlight. (The program also includes Aram Khachaturian’s “Spartacus Suite.” The concert is sponsored by the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State.)
I asked Raum for a couple of tidbits about the Mendelssohn piece.
“Well, one thing people might not know is that it was written for violinist and composer Ferdinand David,” she says. “David gave Mendelssohn a great deal of advice about writing for the violin, and so in a lot of the more virtuosic passages of the concerto, there would have been a lot of input from him. Here’s something interesting — it is through-composed — that is, there is no break between any of the movements. Which means that if my violin falls out of tune, I’m out of luck!”
She’s a dedicated educator. Her regular gig is teaching at Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto. With her background as a young prodigy on the violin, then, she seems a natural fit (and inspirational figure) to work with the Youth Orchestras of Fresno.
Her advice for all those young musicians:
“Oh, just keep practicing,” she says. “The thing is, we’re all a little like plants — we each grow and bloom at very different rates, but we all get there eventually. So it’s very important not to compare yourself to others, and it’s something we all tend to do! Take care of your own playing, measure your success against your own capabilities, keep working hard, and you’ll get there.”
Chamber Music Gala: 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, Fresno State Concert Hall. Tickets: $15 general, $10 seniors, $5 student tickets available at door.
“Love Conquers All” concert: 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, Shaghoian Hall (at Clovis North High School), 2770 E. International Ave. Reserved seats $25-$35 adults, $10-$15 under 18. Tickets also available at the door, with a voluntary suggested donation of $20 for adults.
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