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Prize-winning young violinist returns to Mondavi for Debut Series concert

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From page A7 | November 01, 2012 |

Stephen Waarts will play the violin at Mondavi on Nov. 4. Courtesy photo

That’s the ticket

Who: Violinist Stephen Waarts

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts

Tickets: $40 general, $20 students; www.mondaviarts.org; 530-754-2787

Violinist Stephen Waarts, who won the Mondavi Center Young Artists Competition in 2008, when he was 12 years old, returns for a Debut Series recital in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Now 16, Waarts is living in Philadelphia and studying under the famous violinist and teacher Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute of Music.

For his recital in Davis, Waarts will be working with Bay Area pianist Miles Graber.

“I’ve played with Miles for several years now,” Waarts told The Enterprise by phone from Philadelphia. “I connected with him through the San Francisco Conservatory,” where Graber is a staff accompanist, working with the conservatory’s students as well as with members of the San Francisco Symphony when they perform chamber music. Graber also works with the Young Artists Program at UC Berkeley.

The program will open with the Sonata No. 8 for Violin and Piano in G Major (Op. 30, No. 3) by Beethoven, then touch on French Impressionism (Debussy’s Sonata for Violin and Piano) and Russian music (the Valse-Scherzo for Violin and Piano, Op. 34, by Tchaikovsky).

The second half will feature the Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano (Op. 105) by Schumann, the Sonata No. 6 for Unaccompanied Violin (Op. 27, No. 6) by Yasÿe, adaptations of Gershwin’s songs “Summertime” and “A Woman Is A Sometime Thing” from “Porgy and Bess,” and — as a flashy closer — the Fantasie Brilliante on Themes from Gounod’s “Faust” by Wieniawski.

“Each half of the program ends with a big finish,” Waarts observed.

November will be a busy month for the young performer; he also has a concert in Santa Rosa with the American Philharmonic, performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto. The concerts in California also give Waarts an opportunity to spend some time at his family’s home in Los Altos, in the Silicon Valley.

Waarts is looking forward to playing again at the Mondavi Center; he has fond memories of the 2008 Young Artists Competition.

“That was a long time ago for me,” he said. “I remember that the organizer was pianist Lara Downes, and she was very nice. I played with her at the winner’s concert, at the conclusion of the competition.”

Downes remembers Waarts as well.

“Stephen is a rare and otherworldly talent,” Downes told The Enterprise. “When I first heard him as a 12-year-old contestant, I thought that the depth of the expression, the genuine soulfulness, that came out of a small, angelic-looking boy was outstanding. He’s an artist from his core, and it has been really wonderful to watch his artistry deepen and mature over the last four years.”

In 2009, Waarts was featured in the NPR syndicated program “From the Top,” performing with the show’s host, pianist Christopher O’Riley, in a concert recorded at Stanford University. Waarts was pleased to hear that “From the Top” visited Davis on Oct. 25, recording a show at the Mondavi Center.

Asked how his playing has changed since his appearance here in 2008, Waarts said modestly, “I think I’ve improved, at least I’ve tried to. I’ve expanded my repertoire. When I was at Mondavi four years ago, I don’t think I knew any of the pieces that I’m playing on this recital. When I moved to Philadelphia and started studying at Curtis, I got lots of new inspiration.”

Tickets are $40 general, $20 for students, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

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