January 2011

Odin Rathnam

January 31, 2011 01:58

On my trip home from Knoxville I started writing about Midori's performances of the Mendelssohn Concerto. That one's coming, as my intention is to complete - but there's been a change of plans.

The reason? I have just heard the Korngold Violin Concerto in live performance for the first time. The soloist was Odin Rathnam, concertmaster of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of the West Branch International Music Festival and Academy (and a new friend), and his partners in performance were Daniel Spalding (music director of the Philadephia Virtuosi) and the American Youth Philharmonic, which was led by v.commer Brian Hong (who is a superb concertmaster).  Yes, a youth orchestra - one that plays with a level of commitment that rivals if not surpasses some of the regional orchestras in the United States.

There will be no attempt on my part to describe what I heard in terms of "violin playing", as I honestly cannot find the words that would justly serve Odin Rathnam. This was an astonishingly compelling reading, one during which risks were taken and conductor, soloist and orchestra were truly of one accord - in service to music. Odin Rathnam is a fully committed and deeply engaged musician whose white-hot focus and stage presence I can only compare to this... ...minus the hair-flipping, of course. =) This deep sincerity and clarity of purpose was highlighted when, upon returning to the stage to accept a tsunami of applause, Mr. Rathnam both praised the orchestra and played, in dedication to his young collaborators, a most sincere Bach D Minor Sarabande.

In the book Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions, Toni Cade Bambara says that "English is a mercantile language" - not one to serve the inner life. Right now, I have to agree - Odin's musicmaking is something that must be heard, so when the opportunity arises, do so. Good night, Sam

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