Mayuko Kamio was 11 years old the first time she played Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Op. 35 in D Major.
She said she remembers playing the notes well enough, but never felt comfortable on the stage and found herself unable to enjoy one of history’s most revered concertos.
Now 28, she estimates that she’s played the piece “nearly 100 times,” and looks forward to enjoying its dulcet tones with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.
“I’ve never gotten tired of playing it all these years,” Kamio said. “Now that I can play it and enjoy it too, it really does define me musically.”
Tchaikovsky’s masterwork has always been at the forefront of Kamio’s artistic aspirations. Born in Osaka, Japan, she first picked up a violin at the age of 4.
At first, Kamio’s parents weren’t keen on the idea of their daughter pursuing a life in music. She used the carrot of the concerto to stay the course and change their minds.
“My parents were really hesitant about the violin,” Kamio said. “They were supportive, but they weren’t exactly eager about it. I would just keep saying ‘I have to play the concerto,’ and by the time I did, it was too late for them to stop me.”
Kamio will be joined on the Chautauqua stage by guest conductor Roberto Minczuk, who is making his second 2014 appearance as part of the Institution’s effort to find a permanent music director.
The pair have worked together multiple times prior to tonight, their latest collaboration being this past May in Calgary.
“[Minczuk] is a great musician and person to work with,” Kamio said. “He’s an inspiring, open leader, and it shows in his music. His ability to powerfully lead an orchestra while keeping everyone comfortable speaks volumes.”
Minczuk’s program tonight is itself an ode to Tchaikovsky. After a short opener of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Impresario Overture, K.486, the Russian’s Serenade, Op. 48, paves the way for Kamio and the violin concerto.
Together, the Tchaikovsky duo forms more than an hour of reverence and respect paid to a legend of classical music.
“The program was designed to be all Tchaikovsky,” said Minczuk, after revealing he initially tried to script an ode to South American music. He currently leads the symphony in Rio de Janeiro as well as the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Doing a program dedicated to Tchaikovsky’s music seemed especially appropriate the more it came together,” he said. “The ‘Serenade’ in particular hasn’t been played at Chautauqua for a long, long time. The best of our scores deal with the best of human creation, and both will be on display here.”
As with each of the eight guest conductors this season, community members are invited to submit their thoughts on Minczuk to the Music Director Search Committee via a survey available on the CSO’s web page CSOsearch.com.