Kathryn Eberle has been one of the Utah Symphony’s more prominent players since replacing another high-profile musician, Gerald Elias, as associate concertmaster in 2011. She sits first chair in the absence of concertmaster Ralph Matson and has been featured frequently on local chamber-music programs, including a recent presentation of Beethoven’s piano and violin sonatas for the NOVA Chamber Music Series.
This week, Eberle gets her first full-fledged solo appearance with the orchestra. She will perform Bernstein’s five-movement “Serenade After Plato’s ‘Symposium.’ ”
“Bernstein wrote the piece after re-reading Plato’s ‘Symposium,’ and each movement depicts an orator discussing the subject of love,” Eberle explained. “We hear Bernstein’s musical interpretation of what famous thinkers such as Socrates and Aristophanes had to say on this subject. However, there’s definitely jazzy and more typical Bernstein elements as well.”
This “juxtaposition of old and new influences” appeals to Eberle, who will be performing the work for the first time. “It’s always grabbed me as a listener,” she said.
Utah Symphony music director Thierry Fischer said he suggested a number of concertos to Eberle, including the one by Carl Nielsen in connection with the orchestra’s performances of all six Nielsen symphonies this season. But “she felt it would not represent who she is at the moment,” he said. “I thought that was very wise.”
Eberle was one of the first players Fischer appointed in Salt Lake City. He noted that the Colburn- and Juilliard-educated violinist plays at “an extremely high level, but this would be nothing without her personality, which is positive and strongly minded. She has a natural capacity for wondering.”
“She is a very good member of the orchestra,” he said. “She believes in the orchestra, believes in our common vision. She gives a lot of personal time to things outside the orchestra — fundraisers, education. She is very active in the community.”
“One of the things I love about my life as a musician in Salt Lake are the many hats I get to wear as an associate concertmaster, soloist, chamber musician and teacher,” said Eberle, whose parents will travel from Nashville to hear her play. “I really value each of these for the diversity they bring to my career and find that I’m constantly learning things in one of these areas that help inform another.”
The other major work on the concert program is Nielsen’s Symphony No. 5, which Fischer considers “a monument, one of the biggest scores of the century.” It finds the composer breaking away from the traditional symphonic form; rather than the usual four movements, it is in two. The first movement is distinguished by an extended battle between the orchestra and a solo snare drum that Fischer called “completely revolutionary.”
“The piece is full of vitality, as ever with Nielsen,” the conductor said.
Two more light-hearted works round out the program: Bernstein’s effervescent “Candide” Overture and Mozart’s ever-popular “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.”
P The Utah Symphony will perform Leonard Bernstein’s five-movement “Serenade After Plato’s ‘Symposium’ ” and “Candide” Overture, Nielsen’s Symphony No. 5 and Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.” Thierry Fischer conducts, with associate concertmaster Kathryn Eberle as soloist.
When • Friday and Saturday, April 11-12, 8 p.m.
Where • Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $18-$69 ($5 more on concert day) at www.utahsymphony.org
Also • Thursday, April 10, 7:30 p.m., at Weber State University’s Browning Center, Ogden; $16-$36 at www.symphonyballet.org