Chicago Symphony premiere sparked by college friendship

Posted on: December 14, 2011

In Tuesday’s (12/13) Chicago Tribune, John von Rhein writes, “How many composers are fortunate enough to have a brand-new work performed by two major soloists with two major orchestras under two major conductors, only a few months apart? That is the happy situation in which James Matheson finds himself. The admired American composer’s new Violin Concerto, a co-commission by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is to be given its world premiere at this week’s CSO subscription concerts in Symphony Center. The soloist will be Baird Dodge, the CSO’s principal second violin, with Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting. The concerto—which is due to receive its West Coast premiere in March by the philharmonic, with Martin Chalifour, the orchestra’s principal concertmaster, as soloist and Pablo Heras-Casado conducting—owes its existence to a friendship that began some 20 years ago when Matheson and Dodge were roommates at Swarthmore College, outside Philadelphia. Although their interests and backgrounds varied, they shared what Matheson calls ‘a certain wandering spirit.’ ” Since his appointment as principal second violin in 2002, Dodge has “remained a regular participant in the CSO’s contemporary series, MusicNOW, which presented several Matheson works to local audiences.”

Posted December 14, 2011