And more of the world is discovering us, too! In 2018, the views on our YouTube channel topped 1 million (it’s over 1.5 million now!), and we tripled the number of our subscribers. In December alone, we had more than 100,000 views to our channel – more than the entire year when we began producing videos in earnest in 2015.
Heifetz Institute – “The Top Ten of Twenty Eighteen” – January 1, 2019
What a difference a year makes! We will remember 2019 as a remarkable year of growth in so many phases of the Heifetz Institute, where we hit record numbers of applications, enrolled students, scholarship support, and concert audiences.
But nowhere has that growth been as dramatic as in the explosion of interest in our industry-leading video and audio productions of Heifetz performances, be they at Mary Baldwin University’s Francis Auditorium, in the Blackfriars Playhouse of the American Shakespeare Center, under the Hootenanny Tent, or one of our many Heifetz On Tour venues.
These productions have now been seen and heard by millions across the nation (thanks to a number of radio broadcasts locally on WMRA, WVTF, and nationally on Performance Today), and around the globe via our live webcasts on Facebook and The Violin Channel. and most especially via our own Heifetz Institute YouTube channel.
How dramatic? Well, consider this: A year ago we were thrilled to report (see above) that we topped 100,000 views in the single month of December. One year later, we had one million views in December alone! To steal a line from public TV, thanks to Viewers Like You, (and OK, maybe these two guys), our Heifetz channel now has more than 25,000 subscribers, and 5 million views!
So check out the videos that spurred our record-setting year of 2019. (Click here to see the 2018 results, here for 2017, and our first round-up in 2016.). What follows are our “Top Ten of 2019” – the most-watched-and-shared vids we released in calendar year 2019. If you like these, there are a whole lot more where they came from, and more highlights from our 2019 summer and Heifetz on Tour seasons still to come! You can sign up here to subscribe to our upcoming Videos of the Week so that you don’t miss any of the many more videos that are in the pipeline!
Now, the envelope please…
Cellist Beiliang Zhu truly has been a Baroque-performance trailblazer for the Heifetz Institute. Beiliang attended the Institute for three summers (2006-2008), and also happens to have won First Prize – as well as the Audience Award – at the 18th International Bach Competition in Leipzig in 2012, becoming the first string player ever to receive the top prize performing on a Baroque instrument. She has subsequently been a faculty artist for both our HeifetzPEG program as well as our brand-new Heifetz Baroque Vocal Workshop.
And when Beiliang plays Bach, people tend to notice. You’ll understand why when you hear this riveting performance of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 – replete with Baroque instrument, bow, and thoroughly 21st century audience – in concert at a 2018 Celebrity Series concert in Francis Auditorium.
#Heifetz2019 student Steven Baloue blew us all away with his poised words and profound performance of the little-known Capriccio in C minor, Op. 55, a tribute by Belgian violinist, violist and composer Henri Vieuxtemps (1820 – 1881) to the memory of his late friend Niccolò Paganini. Steven played it last summer in Francis Auditorium on the campus of MBU in Staunton, VA, as part of our s 2019 Festival of Concerts.
From the very start, violinist Nicholas Kitchen’s inaugural year as the Heifetz Institute’s new Artistic Director was a whirlwind of energy, innovation, and artistic conviction. Nowhere was that more visible than in the very first of our faculty Celebrity Series concerts under his leadership: Nothing less than an all-star case of Heifetz artists presenting the Virginia premiere of the original 1825 manuscript of Felix Mendelssohn’s masterful Octet for Strings. “Follow along and you’ll feel like you’re in a familiar house,” says Nick, “… and all of a sudden there’s a room that was never there before.… Everything he does in the one we know that is kind of wild, he does here a little more.”
Leave it to the encyclopedic knowledge of Heifetz faculty member Shmuel Ashkenasi (co-director of the Institute’s renowned Ashkenasi / Kirshbaum Chamber Music Seminar) to offer a different view on the iconic Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, whose 1905 Violin Concerto is a wintry epic on a grand symphonic scale, But a decade later, as World War I raged across Europe, Sibelius explored a more intimate, salon style for the instrument, producing a series of charming miniatures that are rarely heard in the concert hall. All the more reason for Ashkenasi to educate us all on these Sibelius rarities, at a sold-out Celebrity Series concert from #Heifettz2018. He’s joined by the redoubtable Heifetz faculty pianist Dina Vainshtein.
Speaking of the Ashkenasi / Kirshbaum Chamber Music Seminar, during the summer of 2018 we were fortunate to put together a “power trio” of violinist SooBeen Lee, cellist Nicholas Mariscal, and pianist Jingxuan Zhang. In rock terms, “power trios” are defined as groups that “generally emphasize instrumental performance and overall sonic impact over vocals and lyrics.” One the eve of the group’s reunion performance during the Spring 2019 Heifetz On Tour season, we dug up the trio’s encore performance of Astor Piazzolla’s infectious La Muerte Del Angel (“Death of an Angel,”) from a Heifetz Sunday Matinee performance in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In our 2019 summer we ran out not only to nearby Charlottesville, but all the way to the Virginia capital of Richmond to showcase the remarkable talent of our Heifetz artists and alums. Our Richmond road trip resulted in alumna Artist in Residence and 2019 Teaching Fellow Shannon Lee’s second annual visit to the Top 5 in our annual video roundup. Last time it was a Wagner rarity; this time around it’s the longest of all 24 of Paganini’s uber-demanding Caprices for solo violin. Musically, it creates, in the words of fellow violinist Rachel Barton Pine, “an amazing, mysterious atmosphere, almost an impressionistic sound that emerges from the violin.”
For musicians, playing live on the radio is one of the most nerve-racking experiences you can imagine, but you’d never know it from the polished performance given by our intrepid 2019 Heifetz Holiday Tour ensemble of violinists Angela Chan and Julia Angelov, violist Matt Cohen, and cellist Andres Sanchez,. Our battle-tested holiday troupe plays Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” in the studios of public radio station WVTF in Roanoke, Virginia!
Spanish composer Pablo De Sarasate’s music seems to stimulate some of the most memorable performances on the Heifetz stage. In 2018, it was HeifetzPEG student SoHyun Ko playing Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. The year before, Ji-Won Song‘s spectacular Sarasate take on Mozart’s Magic Flute.
So…what’s more exciting than a Sarasate piece for solo violin? How about a piece for TWO violins? #Heifetz2019 students Julia Schilz and Christina Nam, joined by the stalwart Rohan De Silva at the piano, closed out our 2019 Stars of Tomorrow season in Francis Auditorium in bravura style, with a tour-de-force performance of Sarasate’s Navarra, a piece written in tribute to his Spanish home. ¡Olé!
You’re never quite sure what you’re going to hear at any given moment during one of our Saturday night multi-genre Heifetz Hootenannies. It could be a bluegrass breakdown, or a Broadway song being belted out, or perhaps some serious Scottish fiddling.
Or perhaps some less-than-serious Shostakovich! This snapshot from the 2018 Heifetz Institute features the sensational then-12 year-old-violinist SoHyun Ko (who had dazzled us all just days earlier with her stunning rendition of Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen), joining with Heifetz mentor and teacher Bela Horvath (who knows a thing or two about being a gifted young prodigy) to explore the lighter side of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. See if you won’t crack a smile yourself!
If you want to play the violin, you have to play Niccolo Paganini. And apparently, it doesn’t hurt to play Paganini to crack our Top 10 list, either! In both cases, the Italian virtuoso’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin are the ticket. “While they are famous for their difficulty, they offer a wealth of possibilities for translating technical problems into imaginative works of art,” notes author Joan Backus.
For the second straight year, HeifetzPEG alum SoHyun Ko, a student of Pinchas Zukerman and Heifetz faculty member Patinka Kopec,, tops our list, this time with Paganini’s very first Caprice (Yes, Op. 1 No. 1!): “A very important study for both right and left hand, and a highly musical virtuoso piece, Caprice 1 ideally combines the two aspects essential to this particular genre.” Enjoy – and thanks for watching!