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Virtuoso violinist gets a workout with the National Philharmonic

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

In a show of great stamina and virtuosity, violinist Elena Urioste undertakes three solo masterworks in one performance with the National Philharmonic this Saturday.

Under the baton of conductor Piotr Gajewski, Urioste, who made her solo debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 13, plays Leonard Bernstein's "Serenade," a five-movement concerto, Andreas Makris' Violin Concerto and the world premiere of Steven Gerber's "Two Lyric Pieces."

Although Urioste has performed with the Philharmonic twice before, presenting ambitious violin works by Mozart and Bach, Saturday evening's repertoire is record-setting for her in that she will be clocking the most solo minutes onstage.

"This concert is a bit different for me, though, because I was unfamiliar with all of the repertoire," she noted. "I don't have the advantage of knowing how these contemporary pieces are supposed to sound. This round is much more unchartered territory."

Onstage
National Philharmonic: The American Virtuoso Violin
» Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
» When: 8 p.m. Saturday
» Info: $37 to $84, children 7 to 17 free; 301-581-5100; strathmore.org

Bernstein's "Serenade" was composed in 1954 as a musical tribute to the power of love, and although the five-movement piece is scored for violin, harp and percussion, the violin is the most prominent. Urioste calls it "tricky in ways that traditional German music isn't, [with] just a very different vibe."

And while the pieces are new to her, she uses her formidable talent, along with her rich tone, nuanced lyricism and commanding stage presence, to her advantage. The trick, she says, is to be aware of musical priorities.

"[Mine] are a commitment to the score and trying my hardest to bring about the intentions of the composer, and putting [them] before my own," she explained.

Once the piece is studied and understood, she believes the artist is able to inflect the music in a way that is natural to the player's voice -- but only after the groundwork has been laid. This approach has no doubt been honed through myriad performances with major orchestras throughout the country and through collaborations with piano giants such as Ignat Solzhenitsyn.

Still, Urioste is preparing herself for a workout.

"I think I'll sleep well afterwards," she quipped.

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