I’m Larry Zalkind, Principal Trombonist of the Utah Symphony, and on Friday and Saturday nights, May 30th and 31st, I’ll be performing the Trombone Concerto by award winning American composer Christopher Rouse with the Utah Symphony and Joseph Silverstein (former Utah Symphony Music Director, 1983 – 1998).
The Rouse Concerto is considered the most significant piece of music ever written for the trombone, and its demands and musical depth take trombone playing to a new and exciting level. In 1993 the Rouse Trombone Concerto was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music, one of the most prestigious prizes in the field of music.
This concerto was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the orchestra and was to be premiered by its own world renowned Principal Trombonist, Joseph Alessi. At the time Rouse was told Leonard Bernstein would conduct the premiere, but as Rouse began composing this piece in 1990, Bernstein passed away. With Rouse’s deep connection to Bernstein and the timing of his death, Rouse decided to dedicate the concerto to the memory of Bernstein.
The premiere of the Rouse Trombone Concerto took place in December of 1992, with Leonard Slatkin conducting Alessi and the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall. While references to Bernstein are apparent throughout the concerto, the most powerful reference comes at the very end, with a direct quote of the beautiful theme from Bernstein’s Symphony number 3, the Kaddish Symphony.
Bernstein composed the Kaddish Symphony in 1963 after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Kaddish is a Jewish prayer, mostly recited in memory of the dead, and Bernstein wrote his Kaddish melody to express his profound grief at Kennedy’s untimely passing. Rouse, in turn uses the same poignant and beautiful prayer melody at the end of his Trombone Concerto to eulogize Bernstein.
After the premiere, conductor Leonard Slatkin was quoted as saying the second movement of this concerto is the most difficult piece he had conducted. Because of its difficulty, the concerto is rarely performed. Along with putting unprecedented technical demands on the soloist, he places the same level of demand on the players in the orchestra, showcasing the musicians in solo roles, and in interesting combinations with the solo trombone.
Don’t miss this exciting musical event, featuring the Trombone Concerto by Christopher Rouse, with the Utah Symphony, under the direction of Maestro Joseph Silverstein.
I hope to see you at this weekend’s concert – our 2007-2008 season finale!
When Larry Meets Joey
May 30 & 31 (Fri. & Sat.) @ 8:00 PM