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‘ViolinMania!’ concert brings string stars to Michigan City

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Violinist Nicolas Orbovich, artistic director for the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival, never planned to play the violin.

“Both of my own parents came from poor families and never had the opportunity for music lessons or to select an instrument they might have wanted to pursue,” Orbovich said.

“My dream was to be a rock guitar player some day because I loved Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, and also the great Jimi Hendrix. Then one day our elementary school music teacher came in to our elementary classroom and he was holding a violin. That instrument was smaller but did kind of look like a guitar, so at age 8, I thought I’d try it out.”

Orbovich, who founded the Michigan City Chamber Music Festival 23 years ago, is now 58 and has been playing the violin for half a century.

His concert stage resume includes performing with such luminaries as Rod Stewart, Amy Grant, Michael Bolton, Clay Aiken, Arturo Sandoval, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra Jr., Bobby Vinton, the Moody Blues, Yanni, Roger Daltry, Kansas, Melissa Manchester, Ben E. King, Tito Puente Jr., Ben Vereen, the Platters, the Ink Spots, and Barbara Mandrell, among others.

However, Orbovich ranks sharing the stage with his own contemporaries as his favorite time in the spotlight, such like the roster for the 7 p.m. May 25 free concert titled “ViolinMania!” at St. Mary’s the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Michigan City.

Orbovich is paired with his frequent musical partner Zosia Glashauser; the duo will balance their talent on stage with the Euclid String Quartet in residence at Indiana University South Bend led by Jameson Cooper and Aviva Hakanoglu.

Cooper was born in Sheffield, England, and quickly rose to national attention after he was selected to be concertmaster of the National Youth Chamber Orchestra for its debut performance with BBC programming.

“I spent 33 years with the South Bend Symphony, which is where I met Jameson, who I know as Jamie,” Orbovich said.

“As a founding member of the Euclid Quartet, Jamie has won numerous prestigious competition prizes and performed across the U.S on stage at Carnegie Hall and for the Library of Congress. He is now Artist in Residence at Indiana University South Bend, and he and his quartet have been awarded an American Masterpieces grant from the NEA for its innovative educational programming.”

While planning the pieces for the May 25 concert, Orbovich said he quickly discovered there aren’t many works written specifically for a violin quartet.

“We have a couple selections that will have all four of us together on stage and then other highlights which will showcase our musicians paired. We are envisioning a 75-minute concert, and it will knock the socks off of audiences who are willing to let the music transport them.”

In addition to often working with Cooper, Hakanoglu also performs as a solo artist and is on the faculty of Indiana University South Bend. She is the principal second violinist of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, and previously, she has held positions with the Owensboro and Terre Haute Symphony Orchestras.

“When deciding who we should invite to feature at our concerts, so much of the time the names we are presented with come from our own networking, and the many musical organizations and institutions we are affiliated with because of our shared passion for music and performing,” Orbovich said.

“I knew of Aviva because, in South Bend, she organizes musical events of her own, including programming at the Civil Rights Heritage Center and the St. Joseph County Public Library.”

Following the concert, the audience is invited to a free dessert and coffee reception next door to the church in the St. Mary’s Artist Studios space.

Philip Potempa is a freelance reporter for The Post-Tribune.

‘ViolinMania!’

When: 7 p.m. May 25

Where: St. Mary’s the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, 411 W. 11th St., Michigan City

Cost: Free

Information: 219-873-4560; mccmf.org

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Philip Potempa , 2024-05-21 12:33:48

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