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International Violin Competition of Indianapolis mounts a revised season, pandemic-delayed, live and live-streamed

Making an adjustment rare for a local music series, the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

has mounted a six-concert series that will kick off with the popular trio Time for Three on Jan. 26, 2021.

A new concert site for the 2020-21 series is the Madame Walker Theatre, 617 Indiana Ave. Audiences in attendance will be limited to 140 for each concert, each beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Time for Three, which for a decade was the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's official ensemble in residence, will bring its diverse repertoire of music for string trio to the series. It was founded by three students at the Curtis Institute of Music about two decades ago by violinists Zachary DePue and Nick Kendall and double bassist Ranaan Meyer. DePue, former ISO concertmaster, has had two successors in Time for Three, currently Charles Yang. 

Tessa Lark is also an accomplished fiddler.  

On Feb. 23, "Homage to Kreisler" will bring back 2014 silver medalist Tessa Lark, with Amy Yang at the piano, in a tribute to the early 20th-century concert violinist-composer Fritz Kreisler.  The duo will play Schubert's Fantasy in C major, Bartok's Roumanian Folk Dances, and Eugene Ysaye's Sonata No. 4, an unaccompanied violin piece dedicated to Kreisler.

An 80th birthday gathering for Jaime Laredo on March 23 will salute the IVCI artistic director with guests including laureates Jinjoo Cho (2014 gold medalist), Shannon Lee (2018 laureate), Malcolm Lowe  (retired concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), violists Yu Jin (ISO principal) and Steven Tenenbom (Orion String Quartet), and cellists Sharon Robinson (Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio) and Keith Robinson (Miami String Quartet). 

Kyoko Takezawa won IVCI gold medal at 19.

A different kind of crossover string trio will pay a visit April 8. Dreamers' Circus, which specializes in traditional Scandinavian folk music, with added aspects of classical and jazz, will make its local debut. Formed in 2009 in Copenhagen, the ensemble comprises Rune Tonsgaard Sorenson of the Danish String Quartet, pianist Nikolaj Busk and citternist Ale Carr. Its music it prefers to categorize as beyond genre.

The first IVCI I covered was the second such contest, held in 1986. That year the gold medalist was Kyoko Takezawa,  an intense, detail-oriented violinist who has found room in her career for return visits to Indianapolis, several times as 

a member of the IVCI jury. With Chih-Yi Chen at the piano, the program will include Bloch's "Bal Shem" Suite, Saint-Saens' Sonata No. 1, Chopin's Nocturne in D-flat, op. 27, no. 2, and Beethoven's Sonata No. 10 in G, op. 96.

Concluding the 2021 series, which normally would have straddled this year and nearly the first half of next year, will be "French Soundscapes," with 2018 bronze medalist Luke Hsu and another laureate crowned in an Indiana competition, Melanie Laurent (2019 USA International Harp Competition gold medalist) in music by Ravel, Saint-Saens, Ysaye, and others. Also participating will be the venerable Ronen Chamber Ensemble of Indianapolis.

Single tickets for in-person concerts are $30-40 ($25-$40 seniors, $10 for students). Subscription information can be obtained at the IVCI website.  Virtual tickets are $15-$20 for adults, $10 for students.  All tickets may be purchased online at www.violin.org.







'Cheap Thrills': On the right side of Rick with the South Florida Jazz Orchestra


Rick Margitza occupies center stage in "Cheap Thrills," the unprepossessing title of a worthwhile set of his compositions and arrangements on Summit Records. The opportunity, fully taken advantage of, is a release by the South Florida Jazz Orchestra, directed by Chuck Bergeron.

All the saxophone solos on the nine-piece program are taken by Margitza, who got international exposure as Miles Davis' tenorman in the late 1980s and has been largely independent since. He provided the SFJO with all the arrangements, which are witty, expansive, and stylish in the modern big-band tradition. The touches of virtuosity required of the ensemble are handily dispatched. 

Margitza seems to like to lend a swiss-cheese texture to his charts; there's a lot of staccato bounce to such pieces as "The Place to Be" and "Premonition," keeping the sections on their toes. The rhythmic profile is lively but not overbearing, though I felt the languid samba cruise through "Embraceable You" to close the disc was a bit tedious, except to display as a farewell gesture Margitza's graceful facility as a player. The form of his writing is far from predictable; he allows himself one blues, which galumphs happily and seems to salute a canine companion: "45-Pound Hound."

Guitarist John Hart and trumpeter Brian Lynch are guest soloists, providing cameo highlighting to add to the attractiveness of this release. When Margitza solos, he doesn't play second fiddle to anybody. That's not a matter of being dominant and aggressive about what he has to say. It's more a matter of saying something apt and, not surprisingly, appropriate to the settings he has designed for the band. "Brace Yourself" is a good example; Margitza's excellent solo is by no means topped by John Yarling's drumming showcases, and there are two of them.

There's also the ensemble virtue of end-to-end composition. A track's typical wrap-up doesn't depend on an out-chorus largely repeating what we heard at the beginning. There's new stuff: "Walls" opens with hymnlike solo tenor and trombones; then it hits its stride. After a riveting piano solo by Martin Bejerano, the shift into the final ensemble choruses brings into play a fresh imaginative take on the material.

If the cleverness is sometimes stretched out a little too much — I had had quite enough of that big dog before "45-Pound Hound" reached the final double bar — on the whole the set is properly effusive and celebratory of both the band and the honoree: the protean Rick Margitza.

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