The Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra is prepared to play the role of welcoming host to Eau Claire native Mark Kosower.
Kosower, principal cello with the Cleveland Orchestra and an internationally known soloist, is returning home to perform as guest soloist on Victor Herbert’s Cello Concerto No. 2 Saturday in Pablo Center at the Confluence’s RCU Theatre.
CVSO music director Nobuyoshi Yasuda explained why he is delighted to be making music again with Kosower, who also was a guest soloist with the CVSO in 2006.
“It has been my dream when we have a new concert hall we would invite him back to celebrate the community,” Yasuda said. “We are celebrating this new era of the Pablo Center. … We want to celebrate this era with very outstanding, successful, international musicians.”
Kosower’s local roots as well as his prominence in the music world made him a strong choice.
“He was born here, went to (elementary) school, middle school, high school,” Yasuda said. “Now he’s just an incredible player. We are so excited he is joining us.”
The CVSO also hosted an internationally known soloist for its October concert, when violinist Rachel Barton Pine performed. Those collaborations show the caliber of the orchestra.
“I think our orchestra now is at a high level that we can really make great music with that kind of international level of soloist,” Yasuda said.
Yasuda has found that the guests as well as the orchestra players have enjoyed the musical alliance.
“We do clearly care about what we do, and we are also very excited about performing with them,” Yasuda said. “The soloists can kind of feel our enthusiasm and also our sensitivity to play with them.”
The piece that Kosower is playing, Victor Herbert’s Cello Concerto No. 2, shows that the composer could write a challenging composition for the instrument on which he was a virtuoso.
“It’s very difficult,” Yasuda said. “But it’s a wonderful piece.”
Kosower will perform in the first half, and in the second the orchestra will, figuratively, march to a different tune — several marches are on the program. Among them is Herbert’s “March of the Toys” from “Babes in Toyland,” a popular operetta that later was adapted into a film.
Yasuda said that selection will explain to the audience, some of whom may be less familiar with his cello concerto, “You actually know this composer.”
The program also features Hector Berlioz’s “Trojan March,” Felix Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Sergei Prokofiev’s march from “The Love of Three Oranges.”
“March of the Toys” is the penultimate piece on the program, followed by Ottorino Respighi’s tone poem “Pines of Rome.”
When he thought about the plethora of marches, and the fact that the concert occurs at the beginning of March, he had his title for the concert: “Marching Through March.”
“It kind of became a little joke,” he said. It also may make the audience feel like spring just might be on the march at some point.
On another weather-related note, Yasuda has been especially pleased at how well his musicians have been playing leading up to this performance despite the cancellation of three rehearsals because of winter storms.
Nevertheless, he said, he was hopeful before beginning last week’s rehearsal.
“I had a positive mind-set, very optimistic view that musicians were going show up for rehearsal and were going to do a very good rehearsal, and they were prepared,” he said. “And I was like, ‘Wow.’ … Their focus was amazing.”
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