NEW YORK – Classical violinist Leonidas Kavakos performed with the New York Philharmonic on October 20, 21, 22, and 25, marking his debut as a conductor with the famed orchestra as well.
The incredibly talented musician dazzled the audiences with his tremendous skill on the violin, a priceless Stradivarius, making the listeners feel like they are hearing the true sound of a violin for the first time.
Kavakos is the Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence for the 2016-17 season and performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s always popular Violin Concerto in D minor.
His stirring solo violin was moving to say the least, with evidence of his passion for music in every note.
Kavakos’ range as an artist is impressive in everything from Baroque to contemporary pieces. He conducted Ferruccio Busoni’s Berceuse elegiaque, Op. 42, and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op.61.
The 48-year old artist and Athens-native comes from a long line of traditional Greek folk violinists in his family.
The experience of performing takes on a religious quality for Kavakos who said in an interview for the New York Philharmonic Playbill, “It’s a communion we are experiencing in the concert hall,” noting that great composers, “have given us the chance to get closer to divinity.”
Speaking about his residency, he observed that it, “generates incredible emotions for me.” The New York Philharmonic is “an orchestra full of incredibly talented people… they are such fantastic colleagues and the atmosphere is so beautiful and friendly,” he said.
Kavakos made his debut performing with the New York Philharmonic in 2002 at the Concerts in the Parks. Since that time, he has performed with them more than 30 times, even joining the orchestra on a European tour.
He has many friends in the Philharmonic including musical director Alan Gilbert whom he met in the 1990’s when Gilbert was Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.
Assistant Concertmaster Michelle Kim noted about Kavakos, “His temperament fits well with ours because we’re a very charismatic orchestra and he’s a very charismatic player.” Kim was impressed with Kavakos’ dedication and his love of practicing, something unheard of for most musicians.
Kavakos’ residency is also an opportunity to bond more closely with the orchestra and the audience. He said, “You really have a chance to form something very special and very personal.”
About conducting the Philharmonic for the first time, Kavakos said eight or nine years ago, he wouldn’t have believed it was happening, the dream seemed so far-fetched at that time.
Leonidas Kavakos conducts and performed as soloist with the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall, 10/20/16. Photo by Chris Lee
According to Playbill, Kavakos wanted to be a conductor even before he began playing the violin.
He observed, “To imagine that I will have the chance to stand on the podium in front of that orchestra as a conductor is something that- there are no words to describe that kind of feeling. There’s nothing I could wish for more.”
Next on his schedule, Kavakos will perform in Houston, TX, then concert dates in Europe before returning to the United States in February 2017.
On March 1, he will perform in the World Premiere of composer Lera Auerbach’s Violin Concerto No. 4, written especially for him, making another of Kavakos’ dreams come true.
Playing a piece composed for him by a composer he admires will surely be an unforgettable experience for the gifted musician and for the audience as well. More information is available at leonidaskavakos.com.