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Sunday, December 13, 2009

UNO violinist strums sweet music in Omaha

When she was introduced to the violin at age 4, Sophie Genevieve was given her “voice.”

Genevieve’s mother, a choir director and organist, introduced her to the bowed-string instrument. Immediately, Genevieve developed a passion for the instrument, which served as a tool to express her inner self.

“I liked its sound and how it made me feel,” Genevieve said. “I enjoyed the challenges that playing the violin gave me.”

The 22-year-old UNO violin performance major now serves as the concertmaster of the 70-member Heartland Philharmonic Orchestra, which is comprised of students and community members.

Sophie Genevieve playing the violin in the Strauss Performing Arts Recital Hall (Photo courtesy: Tim Fitzgerald/UNO).


Genevieve auditioned for the orchestra once she transferred to UNO in January 2009.

“Being concertmaster involves a lot of work not only with the music but between the musicians and the conductor,” she said, “and if something goes wrong, it’s my fault, but it is an honor….my job is much easier because we have such talented and dedicated conductors and musicians.”

Another one of Genevieve’s accomplishment include an invitation to play in a master class for world-famous Classical violinist Midori Goto in 2008. She was also invited to attend a month-long Quebec-based international music festival called Domaine Forget.

“This has allowed me to get exposed to all kinds of music, different violin techniques, as well as to play with some incredible musicians,” she said.

She is now going to bring her experience to center stage in January 2010, with a violin solo featuring works from Classical-Romantic composer Ludwig van Beethoven to French composer Camille Saint-Saens.

“The recital is quite varied,” Genevieve said. “The last part of the piece I play 372 notes in about 35 seconds to 40 seconds.”

Genevieve said she has no limits when it comes to down to playing the harmonic complexity of Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the soul-wrenching lyricism of Romantic composer Johannes Brahms, the fire of Classical-Romantic composer Ludwig van Beethoven or the raw emotion of 20th century Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

Genevieve mostly enjoys playing the first movement of 20th century Russian composer and pianist Sergei Prokofiev’s first violin concerto.

Prokofiev’s concerto echoed the collapse of Imperial Russia, which led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and the outcries of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.

“It is an amazing piece that goes from a haunting Russian theme to extreme horror and the reconciliation,” she said.

Genevieve said the most enjoyable piece to play is Shostakovich’s Piano Trio in E Minor – which depicts the annihilation of the Jews during the Holocaust - with her piano group TriO!

“It requires so much mentally, physically and spiritually,” she said, “but at the end of the performance, one feels exhausted and yet as though you have participated in an immortal art.”
Genevieve finds her third hour of playing to be her peak performance.

“I try to warm up for about 90 minutes to two hours before a performance,” she said, “but after that, I just go running, take a nap and read my Bible.”

Someday, Genevieve – who also plays the trumpet – said she has dreams of amping up her performances by learning how to play the pipe organ.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Genevieve said, “like a whole symphony beneath your fingers with such a glorious and powerful sound.”

With the continued support of her family and mentors, Genevieve said the power exerted by the pipe organ is in reach.

“Music is such an addicting art [and] the more I perform, the more I can’t get enough of it,” Genevieve said. “All of my professors have challenged me and have been so interested in me, not only as a student but as a musician.”

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