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Acclaimed violinist joins symphony

Nov. 16, 2006

By LINDSEY GREWE
Reporter

Dr. Michael Alexander, associate professor of string music education, said he was astonished at the success of the Waco Symphony Orchestra upon arriving at Baylor.

"Cities bigger than we are struggle with attracting the caliber of names that we do," Alexander said. "Waco is very fortunate that they can get big names to play with the symphony."

The Waco Symphony Orchestra will introduce the latest in a list of prestigious musicians when award-winning violinist Elmar Oliveira takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. today in Waco Hall.

Oliveira is a distinguished artist in residence at the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Fla. He is the only American violinist to win a Gold Medal at Moscow's Tchaikovsky International Competition.

"It's an impressive accomplishment that places him among the top tier of modern violinists," said Michael Bracken, marketing director for the Waco Symphony Orchestra.

Oliveira's impressive resume also includes winning the Naumburg International Competition and the G. B. Dealy Competition. He is the first violinist to receive the Avery Fisher Prize, an award given to American musicians for outstanding achievement in classical music.

Oliveira also was nominated for an award more Baylor students would be familiar with: a Grammy for his album of the Barber Concerto with Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony.

"Waco has a history of great performers, and he is definitely a biggie," Alexander said.

Stephen Heyde, Baylor's conductor-in-residence and director of orchestral activities, will conduct the orchestra. The show will open with Martin Gould's "Star Spangled Overture."

Bracken said this year the symphony will debut its newest series, the Spotlight Series, where one member of the orchestra will discuss the featured piece with the audience.

Following Gould's piece, the first spotlight will shine on Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 5, Op. 47," which will conclude the first half of the program.

The show will end with Oliveira's performance of Brahms' "Violin Concerto, Op. 77, D major."

"The most important thing for Baylor students to know is that if they want to purchase tickets, they must get them at the door on the day of the concert," said Susan Taylor, executive director for the Waco Symphony Orchestra.

General public tickets cost $16, $24, $28 or $30 and can be purchased on the Waco Symphony Orchestra's Web site. Student tickets cost $5 and are available at 1 p.m. today in Waco Hall.

"Waco is known in the musician community as a good venue for artists," Alexander said. "Many major orchestras have a lot of turnovers, while Waco's strength has been staying consistent."