Arts & Culture

Renowned violinist to play with Wichita Symphony Orchestra

Karen Gomyo knew from an early age that she wanted to be a concert violinist.
Karen Gomyo knew from an early age that she wanted to be a concert violinist. Courtesy photo

Most kids dream of being firefighters, teachers, doctors – even ballerinas. But celebrated violinist Karen Gomyo had other dreams – when she turned 5, she was certain she would be a concert violinist.

“I attended a Midori (Goto) concert when I was 5,” Gomyo said. “I realized I wanted to be just like her. I think it was the intensity with which she was playing.”

Gomyo, who will be featured at the Wichita Symphony Orchestra’s “Dances of the Americas” concert, has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Noted for her glamour and intense and soulful playing, Gomyo has toured the world and worked under the baton of celebrated conductors such as Leonard Slatkin and Pinchas Zukerman.

Although Gomyo did not come from a musical family, she knew she was destined to perform.

Midori was performing a Mendelssohn concerto in Montreal, where Gomyo lived until she left to attend The Juilliard School when she was 10. Like Midori, Gomyo was born in Japan.

“She was 14 when I saw her perform,” Gomyo said. “As I watched her and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, I realized I wanted to be a part of that world.”

Gomyo has done just that, performing with her Stradivarius, with top-notch symphonies from Salzburg to Sydney, this classically trained violinist, who also attended the New England Conservatory, continues to wow audiences with pieces by Mendelssohn, Prokofiev and Bach. But Gomyo added a new twist to her lineup – a work by Argentinean composer, Astor Pantaleon Piazzolla (1921-1992).

Gomyo heard Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” when she was 14.

“It’s always very liberating to play this music,” Gomyo said. “My job is to soar within the steady pulse. I have to treat it very differently from the orchestra’s approach.”

While listening to this classically arranged piece, the audience will get to hear Piazzolla’s tango elements and hints of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”

The other works on the docket for this “Dances of the Americas” concert that celebrates music from the Americas includes Aaron Jay Kernis’ “New Era Dance,” Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring: Suite” and Arturo Marquez’ “Danzon No. 2.”

Kernis’ piece was commissioned in 1992. The work anticipates the new millennium and pays tribute to the cultural diversity and dynamics present in New York City. Kernis (1960- ) won a Pulitzer Prize for music in 1998.

“Danzon No. 2” was composed by Arturo Marquez (1950- ), a contemporary classical composer from Mexico. Marquez wrote a series of Danzon pieces named after a popular folk dance.

The concert will also showcase “Appalachian Spring” by Copland (1900-1990) who is often considered the musical voice of America. The ballet was commissioned in 1943 for choreographer Martha Graham. Copland wanted to focus on the American landscape, as well as the strength and hope of its people. Embedded within the music is the Shaker tune “Simple Gifts.” Copland won a Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for this piece that welcomes spring.

If You Go

The Wichita Symphony Orchestra presents ‘Dances of the Americas’

Special Guest: Karen Gomyo, violin

Where: Century II Concert Hall, 225 W. Douglas

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 25, 3 p.m. Oct. 26

Tickets: $19-$57, 316-267-7658 or www.wichitasymphony.org

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