Working with Polina
Yesterday I met with Polina Sedukh, the violin soloist coming to play Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with the Ukiah Symphony, December 7th and 8th. Since she plays with the San Francisco Symphony she reserved a practice room in one of the lower levels below Davies Symphony Hall. To meet Polina in one of San Francisco Symphony’s practice rooms was a pleasure. The walls were plastered with posters of past concerts, guest pianists, cellists, and conductors, some in English, some in Russian, some from the 70s, the 80s, it was fascinating to see, and an inspiring way to start our read-through of the Sibelius concerto.
The two hours we spent playing and talking through the piece was such a delight. Hearing her grace and lyricism, her nuances of color, that gorgeous tone and alluring intensity of her playing was a privilege. For each of us, I’m sure, it was a musical check-in, an overview of how we are individually thinking about the piece, like an aerial photo of a landscape. Just the surface so far, so we have our conceptual outline of the piece. Over the next month we’ll each develop new perspectives on Sibelius’ language, ask deeper questions of the music, find ways to express what the composer is saying through his score. I am brimming with enthusiasm to introduce her and the orchestra when we welcome her to Ukiah in a month!
Among the many topics and ideas we discussed, Polina and I share deeply emotional connections to this piece. We both feel a great responsibility in performing it here, and her commitment to the music is something I wish for everyone to experience.
I hope to see you at the concert in December!
All my best,
Phillip Semyon Lenberg is Music Director of the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra and teaches at the Mendocino College in Ukiah, CA