Concert Review: Higdon’s Violin Concerto

Posted on: February 9, 2009

In Saturday’s (2/7) Indianapolis Star, Jay Harvey writes, “A new profile for the virtuoso solo concerto with orchestra was etched with distinction here Friday night. Jennifer Higdon, an American composer in prolific midcareer, cheered with the rest of a hearteningly large Hilbert Circle Theatre audience after her Violin Concerto received its world premiere by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and violin soloist Hilary Hahn.” Harvey writes that Higdon steers clear of the traditional “heroic” role for the violin. “The piece begins with the fragility of harmonics in the violin, colored by mallet percussion struck with knitting needles. The concertmaster soon takes over the soloist’s material, as the latter plays a more firmly grounded line in the lower middle register. The soloist seems to be forging an identity out of a volatile environment, and it’s unlikely any concert violinist going could steer as steady and resplendent a course through such challenges as Hahn did.” The work was commissioned by the Indianapolis Symphony. Works by Weber and Schumann formed the rest of the program.