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Concertmaster Jennifer Cho leads a seductive tango, paired with classic Mozart
Source: California Symphony

The California Symphony kicks off 2019 with two performances of A TANGO WITH MOZART at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8pm and Sunday, Jan. 20 at 4pm. Music Director Donato Cabrera leads a free, 30-minute pre-concert talk for ticketholders, starting an hour before each show.

In selecting the music for this program, Music Director Donato Cabrera explains that all three pieces are a nod to the past: “In the case of Le Tombeau de Couperin, each movement was written in remembrance of a friend that Ravel lost during World War I. For Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, these pieces are a reflection of not only Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Piazzolla’s Seasons even follow the same structure of movements as Vivaldi - fast/slow/fast) but also are a reflection of the tango and its importance and relationship to the city of Buenos Aires. And the Mozart symphony is the first of his three last symphonies that are influenced by Mozart’s fascination with the music of J. S. Bach and the dance forms that were popular during the Baroque era.”

Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 was written with break-neck speed in June of 1788, right before No. 40 which was delivered in July, and No. 41—his final symphony—in August. After the death of his father in 1787, Mozart’s correspondence (our primary source of information) becomes sparse, and it is unknown whether the composer lived to hear the work performed before his premature death in 1791 at the age of 35.

Argentinian composer Piazzolla is famous for fusing tango and jazz influences in his compositions. His Four Seasons of Buenos Aires comprises works composed between 1965 and 1970, each evoking a different season, but it was the genius of Russian composer Desyatnikov that pulled it all together as a suite for solo violin with string orchestra and harpsichord, adding in familiar references to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. (And as the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, the arranger even playfully takes elements from Vivaldi’s Winter and places them in Piazzolla’s Summer.)

For Concertmaster Jennifer Cho, the concert marks a return to center stage with the California Symphony after her solo turn playing Ravel’s Tzigane in March 2017. This is her first performance as featured artist since being appointed to the role of Concertmaster in August 2017.

Of the collaboration, Cabrera says: “The first time Jenny and I performed together as soloist and conductor was with Piazzolla’s Four Seasons.  We are both very excited to be returning to this masterpiece and sharing it with our Walnut Creek audience.”

“Jennifer Cho has a finesse and elegance to her playing, a subtle quality that I love.”—Music Director Donato Cabrera
Of the piece, Cho says: “In its beginnings, tango had a lot more machismo and aggressive connotations, but Piazzolla really transformed the genre. His Four Seasons is so sensual and evocative, about give as well as take. It has been really interesting to explore the idea of a tango in the 21st century, especially being a female taking the lead. I can't wait to tango with the California Symphony!"

Born in Glendale, California, Jennifer Cho joined the California Symphony as Assistant Concertmaster in October 2013. She was appointed as Acting Concertmaster by Donato Cabrera for the 2016-17 season, and has been a member of the San Francisco Opera first violin section since 2011. Jennifer began her studies at the age of 7 and decided to pursue a career as a violinist in high school while studying with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Associate Concertmaster Alexander Treger. She attended Crossroads School in Los Angeles before venturing east to The Juilliard School. At Juilliard, Jennifer earned Bachelors and Masters degrees while studying with Stephen Clapp and Robert Mann. For her graduate studies, she was chosen by the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to be a Graduate Scholar. The JKC Foundation financially supported her studies until she graduated with a Master's Degree in 2008.  

Jennifer is married to bassist Mark Wallace and lives in Petaluma California with her son, two cats, and five chickens.
“I’m very excited and honored to play with my colleagues at the California Symphony!  I feel really lucky to be part of this group and it's fun to get to play a different role.”—Jennifer Cho, Concertmaster
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