A Conversation With Cleveland Women’s Orchestra Guest Violinist Michael Ferri

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By Daniel Hathaway

Three years after his first solo appearance with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra, violinist Michael Ferri will return to Severance Hall to help the ensemble celebrate its 80th birthday with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on Sunday, April 26 at 3:30 pm.

Born in Northern Italy and homeschooled in Cleveland, Ferri has studied with Paul Kantor and Jaime Laredo at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Last fall he began his first year at Rice University in Houston, where he has continued to study with Kantor. We spoke by telephone from his home in Cleveland, where he is taking a year off from his studies.

“I figured that I've been studying at CIM for upwards of 7 or 8 years. I could use a little break, take some deep breaths, do some reading, collect my thoughts, and do a little practicing on my own,” Ferri said. That ‘little practicing on his own’ includes learning Bach’s b-minor Partita, which Ferri thinks is a rather special piece. “It’s in a far-out key with progressions that are challenging to the ear, and it’s difficult to memorize, but I’m excited to learn it.”

At the moment, Ferri is spending most of his time on the Tchaikovsky. “In addition to playing scales and arpeggios, I’m doing a lot of score study. I want to understand the score harmonically, learn about the way it’s supposed to be played, and make the best musical decisions.”

Michael Ferri has spent a lot of time looking into published scores of the Tchaikovsky. “The piece has been edited by many different hands since 1878. Tchaikovsky wasn’t a violinist and he had some difficulty composing for the instrument, so he consulted others before and after his visit to Switzerland, when he wrote the piece. He had Joseph Kotek around at the time, which was one of the happiest periods in his life. He wouldn’t have been able to compose it as well without a violinist there.”

Read the rest of the interview at ClevelandClassical.com.
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