The annual Heifetz Holiday Homecoming Tour kicked off this past week, and little did we know that our seasonally-themed program would conjure up a winter deluge the likes of which we don’t often see here in the Shenandoah Valley!
An all-star cast of 2018 Heifetz alumni including guitarist Robby Brown, violinists Danny Jin, Kiarra Saito- Beckman, and HeifetzPEG student Ari Han, violists Andrew Gonzalez and Matthew Cohen, and cellist Zhihao Wu have reunited in Staunton for the first time since they dazzled us with their artistry last summer. While they had a chance to catch up and rehearse over the weekend, a winter storm rolled in Saturday night which left the valley blanketed in snow. Cancellations to the concerts in Highland County and Charlottesville tested their mettle as traveling performers, but these young musicians rose to the occasion to showcase the finest virtues of the Heifetz Institute.
The group kicked off the tour with an intimate performance at Brightview Baldwin Park Senior Center in Staunton, where our hosts were delighted by the passion and expression of the musicians. That same evening was our trademark hometown concert at the American Shakespeare Center. The program featured Baroque favorites, timeless classics, and Yuletide delights including Vivaldi’s infectious Guitar Concerto in D major, the rollicking Fandango by Luigi Boccherini, selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, and more. The evening was highlighted by the addition of special guest artist Virginia Bolena of Staunton’s Trinity Episcopal Church, who joined in a performance of Handel’s delightful Organ Concerto in B-flat to cap off the festive proceedings.
As the snow began to thaw, the tour rolled on to Washington, D.C. on December 13 for an engagement at the Kreeger Museum, where we were joined by none other than the newly appointed Artistic Director of the Heifetz Institute, Nicholas Kitchen. This marked Mr. Kitchen’s first appearance with Heifetz performers since officially succeeding founder Daniel Heifetz, as he joined the ensemble to perform his own arrangements of Bach, Brahms, and of course some special holiday numbers. The evening also featured an appearance by Bob Edwards, the Peabody Award-winning member of the National Radio Hall of Fame and founding host of Morning Edition.
The final stop on the winter tour was December 16 at Heifetz Institute’s annual Dorothy and Henry L. Rosenberg, Jr. “Holiday Homecoming” concert in Baltimore. This year’s event was held in the spectacular new Linehan Concert Hall located on the campus of UMBC. With a diverse program including selections from Vivaldi’s Winter (of course!), Dvořák’s Silent Woods , and other seasonal favorites, this was a perfect way to cap off our season and keep spirits high through the New Year!
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