Weekend pick: Cello Fresno international festival at Fresno State
For fans of the cello, this is the perfect weekend.
The Cello Fresno international festival is in full swing at Fresno State:
• Friday evening’s performance (7:30 p.m., Fresno State Concert Hall), features the world premiere of Daniel Akiva’s cello concerto “Requests for Cello and Orchestra.” The composer himself was supposed to be there, but the war in Israel kept him from traveling. (“His flight got canceled and we are all heartbroken,” says Thomas Loewenheim, the festival artistic director.) The concert goes on, however, with Emilio Colón conducting and Loewenheim performing as soloist with the Fresno State Symphony Orchestra.
• Acclaimed cellist Daniel Akiva couldn’t make it because of the war in Israel, but the Friday concert featuring the world premiere of his new cello concerto will go on.Acclaimed cellist Daniel Akiva couldn’t make it because of the war in Israel, but the Friday concert featuring the world premiere of his new cello concerto will go on.On Saturday evening (6 p.m., Fresno State Concert Hall), the festival’s Concerto Competition will be held.
• Sunday’s big event (3 p.m., Shaghoian Concert Hall) features the two cello ensembles conducted by Cara and Emilio Colón, along with the Youth Orchestras of Fresno
and the Concerto Competition winners performing. Brinton Averil Smith, principal cellist of the Houston Symphony, is the soloist. The program includes Korngold’s Cello Concerto, and Emilio Colón’s “Poema: La Garza en el Daule,” conducted by Loewenheim.
Smith has never performed at Fresno State before. He gave a virtual master class to Fresno State cellists during Covid. “He was very helpful and very gracious with his time and the students loved his class,” Loewenheim says. “He is a world renowned cellist and pedagogue and we are delighted that he agreed to come to Fresno for his festival.”
Students are coming from major universities and cello programs such as the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Arizona State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to name a few, along with students from China, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and other states and countries.
“It is truly an international cello festival,” Loewenheim says.