Former UConn violin professor returns for an evening of new music

Julie Rosenfeld performs "New Works for Violin and Piano" in von der Mehden on Friday, March 31 with pianist Peter Miyamoto. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)

The renowned violinist Julie Rosenfeld performed a recital on Friday, March 30 at UConn’s von der Mehden Recital Hall. The program was titled “New Music for Violin and Piano” and featured six new works composed by living composers, each of which were personally commissioned by Rosenfeld.

Rosenfeld’s appearance at UConn was made all the more meaningful by her own history with the school. Until the spring semester of 2013, Rosenfeld served as UConn’s professor of violin.

The concert began with Katherine Hoover’s “Three Dances,” written in 2014. The piece features three movements: an Arabesque, a Cortege and a Stomp. The movements ranged in character, from elegant and ornate in the first, to pensive and lyrical in the second and then to rustic and lively in the third.

After the first work, Rosenfeld addressed the audience, commenting on how glad she was to be back at UConn, even if the weather had not worked out to her favor, as it was sleeting outside.

The second piece was Laura Kaminsky’s 2015 composition, “undercurrent,” subtitled “Ethereal, otherworldly – shimmering, warm.” This work began slowly, with soft, serene notes in the violin’s upper register that grew to dramatic heights, exploring the limits of Rosenfeld’s huge sound.

The third piece, John Halle’s “Amen Chorus,” was written in 2016 and marked to be played with a “jazzish bounce.” This was clear in the music itself, with bluesy melodies evocative of jazz and even a middle section where Rosenfeld held her violin in rest position, strumming it like a guitar.

“The music was really experimental, and being exposed to experimental kinds of music is a really important part of being a musician,” sixth-semester music history major Christine Goss said. “I’m thankful that the university gives us opportunities like this.”

After a brief intermission, Rosenfeld returned to present the second half. This half opened with a work by UConn’s own Professor of Composition, Dr. Kenneth Fuchs.

“Duo in One Movement,” written in 2015, lived up to its name. The piece featured four sections: “Introduzione – Allegro scherzando – Larghetto – Allegro.” However, there were no breaks or silences between sections. Rather, the players continued on without pause, bringing their own unique energy to complement Fuchs’s distinctive sound.

“It’s a thrill to have my works presented to the UConn community, especially by a violinist of the stature of Julie Rosenfeld,” Dr. Kenneth Fuchs, Professor of Music Composition at UConn, said. “She’s a wonderful musician.”

“We were colleagues together here at the university for three years when she was our professor of violin, and we became very good friends. She asked me to compose this work especially for her, and I was delighted to do it. She’s a virtuoso player and I tried to exploit all of her talent, both in terms of technical ability and also lyrical playing.”

The final two works of the program were Tamar Muskal’s “Where Do We Belong?” and Stefan Freund’s “Life (Still) Goes On,” both of which were composed in 2015.

“I think this concert really brought out the importance in the relationship between composer and performer, because this was literally a concert where she commissioned six different pieces by six different composers,” second-semester music composition major Claire Pawlewitz said.

Without a doubt, Rosenfeld’s performance shows her commitment to exposing audiences of all kinds to new music.


Brian Roach is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at brian.roach@uconn.edu.