Hitting the High Notes at SMF Part 1: Angelo Xiang Yu

Music

BY CASSANDRA MANZ SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY JUN 8, 2018

Editor's Note: This is the first in a three-part series on the Sarasota Music Festival.

This Saturday, Sarasotans are in for a treat with Sarasota Music Festival’s opening symphony, Afternoon of a Faun, showcasing Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, led by festival faculty conductor Larry Rachleff, and world-renowned violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 on a $7-million 1729 Stradivarius violin.

Yu’s studies took him from the Shanghai Conservatory to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and although this is his first time at the Sarasota Music Festival, he has worked with both Larry Rachleff, who will conduct Yu on Saturday, and Jeffrey Kahane, the music director of the festival, before. “I'm totally inspired every time I play with [Kahane],” Yu says. “When [Kahane] asked me [to play] I said ‘Absolutely.’ Why would I say no to this amazing festival, [that] has such a great reputation over so many decades?”

More than anything else, Yu is excited about the students. He was amazed by the young musicians during a coaching session he held Tuesday morning. “I was actually able to work on not only some technical things but also musical things at the same time,” he says. “Usually in the first or second week you're just trying to focus on technical things but they are already well-established so I can actually dig into it and really work something musically.”

As for Saturday’s performance, the world-traveling violinist considers Bruch’s concerto one of the most difficult pieces to play. “You have to have life experience to understand this piece,” he says. “You have to know how it feels to experience pain in life, so that you can really understand the joy afterwards.” And Yu likes to share his vulnerabilities with his fellow performers and the audience. “As a performer, I just need to be honest all the time,” he says. “No one is perfect and I'm not afraid of revealing my vulnerability to the audience. When I really open my heart, the audience will feel that and they will be moved by the music, by my interpretation as well.”

Afternoon of a Faun opens at the Sarasota Opera House on Saturday, June 9, at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased online at sarasotaorchestra.org or in person at the Sarasota Orchestra Box Office.

Pictured: Angelo Xiang Yu. Photo courtesy of the Sarasota Orchestra.

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