“Exploring the Evolution of Harrison’s Unique Soundscapes”


As the concertmaster of the California Symphony, she is thrilled about the upcoming performances of Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Violin with Five Percussionists. This piece has long been on her list of desired works to perform, and she is delighted that it will finally be showcased this weekend. Under the baton of music director Donato Cabrera, she will serve as the solo violinist for Harrison’s concerto, which is described as a jubilant and festive composition. The program will also feature Richard Strauss’s Serenade and Mozart’s Serenade No. (Gran Partita). These performances are scheduled for March – at the Lesher Center.

Cho has immersed herself in the recordings of Harrison’s music as of late. She expressed her admiration for this concerto, which has now taken a place among her favorite compositions by the esteemed late American composer. Known for his unique creations that blend Asian influences with innovative instruments, Harrison’s work has left an indelible mark on the world of music. Throughout his illustrious career, he drew inspiration from gamelan, an Indonesian music ensemble, which is evident in his score. This particular composition showcases a remarkable selection of instruments such as wind chimes, flower pots, brake drums, and coffee cans. Currently residing in Petaluma with her husband, the talented bassist Mark Wallace, Cho shared her thoughts on Harrison’s extraordinary musical legacy.

Cho eloquently articulated the work created by her -year-old son. She described the transformation of the gamelan sounds from a festive celebration to a bustling outdoor marketplace brimming with vitality. Furthermore, she noted the subtle moments of quiet where echoes lingered, creating an air of intrigue and mystery. Cho highlighted the diverse range of textures and moods that her son was able to convey through his music. Many of her professional associates were familiar with Harrison, a native of Portland, Oregon, who later resided along the California coast. They had the privilege of knowing him personally and performing a significant amount of his musical compositions.

I was not personally acquainted with him, but I recall studying his work in school and being well-informed about him. Performing Harrison’s concerto evokes memories of her formative musical education, as she hails from Southern California and commenced her violin training at a tender age. Additionally, she delved into percussion playing from the th grade onwards, mastering instruments such as timpani and glockenspiel. I found great joy in this pursuit, she remarked. My preferred aspect was the freedom to roam around the rehearsal space instead of being confined to a chair for the duration.

The aforementioned experience has greatly impacted me, making this particular piece hold a special place in my heart. Despite sitting in the back row, the violin has always been my primary instrument of choice. A defining moment occurred when an older cousin won a prestigious violin competition; it was then that I knew I wanted to pursue the same path. Following the completion of both undergraduate and graduate degrees at the renowned Juilliard School, I solidified my desire to play in an orchestra. Subsequently, in , I ventured to the Bay Area to join the San Francisco Opera. Over the years, I have also collaborated with the San Francisco Ballet and various other musical ensembles.

In , the California Symphony saw the appointment of their concertmaster by Maestro Cabrera. Cho expressed her ongoing satisfaction with the productive collaboration between herself, Cabrera, and the orchestra. She commended his exceptional talent in curating the repertoire, citing the joy of performing pieces selected by him. The post-pandemic season held particular significance, highlighted by the poignant performance of Vaughan Williams’ Fifth Symphony. Furthermore, rare compositions by William Walton and Hans Rott were brought to the forefront, alongside original works by resident composers Katherine Balch and Viet Cuong. The diversity and complexity of the program presented its own set of challenges that were met head-on.

Learninng Outcome

Reflecting on my journey from the back row of the orchestra to performing with prestigious ensembles in the Bay Area, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities that have shaped me as a violinist. The violin will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am grateful for the defining moment that set me on this path. With each performance, I am reminded of the passion and dedication that brought me to where I am today, and I look forward to continuing to share my love for music with audiences around the world.


Hakan Author

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