The University of North Carolina kicked off its International Violin Symposium in Person Recital Hall. This hall offered a bright, warm ambience for this preview of the many events that will be taking place in the upcoming week. Although the symposium focuses on the violin, the opening concert featured two up-and-coming young musicians, cellist Dmitry Volkov and pianist Nicholas Luby.

Volkov hails from Togliatti, Russia; he studied at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory under Natalia Shakhovskaya. He has performed as a soloist with the National Symphony of Mexico, the Youth Orchestras of the Americas, the Samara Symphony, Togliatti Symphony, and Naberezhnye Chelny Symphony in Russia. Volkov has also had many solo performances in Norway, Washington D. C, and New York City. He won First Prize in the Heifetz Institute of Music Concerto Competition in 2009 and the Togliatti International Competition for Strings in 2002. He also won First prize in the Midland-Odessa Symphony National Young Artist Competition. Volkov is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Peabody Institute in the studio of Amit Peled and later this month will be recording his first solo CD on the Urtext label in Amsterdam.

Pianist Nicholas Luby graduated from Wesleyan University in 2011 with honors in music and a second major in philosophy; he is currently studying piano performance and chamber music at the University of Michigan. While at Wesleyan he won the Elizabeth Verveer Tishler Piano Competition and the 2009 Concerto Competition. He has also been first Prize winner in the Loren Withers Piano Competition in Durham and the Old Dominion Classical Piano Competition in Norfolk. Luby has had various performance opportunities at the Sewannee Summer Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, the Medici Corso Internazionale di Musica in Tuscania, Italy, the Internal Music Academy of Pilsen in the Czech Republic, and the Mannes International Keyboard Institute in New York City.

The program consisted of a diverse selection of chamber music by Robert Schumann, Shostakovich, and Brahms. Volkov and Luby began the evening with Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 73. Schumann wrote this work around 1849; the title literally translates as “fantasy pieces.” He wrote many of these pieces for piano, clarinet and cello, many suggesting a world of myths and dreams. Volkov and Luby captured the lively energy with ease, especially within the second movement. Volkov’s light and airy tone balanced very well with Luby’s nimble fingers. Shostakovich’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in D minor was composed just prior to the Soviet censure of the composer in 1934. This period in Shostakovich’s life was quite emotional and he suffered immensely under the turmoil that was taking place in the Soviet Union. The sonata bursts with emotional energy, and Volkov captured the very essence of what was taking place historically. Luby and Volkov played seamlessly together to tell the story of these bleak moments in Russia’s history. The final work, Brahms’ Piano Trio No. 1 in B, Op.8, featured violinist Richard Luby, a violin professor at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill who is the organizer and host of the symposium. The trio was written in 1854 around the time of Robert Schumann’s suicide attempt. Brahms had a close relationship with Schumann and he broke off work on this piece to help the Schumann family. While staying with the Schumanns, he completed the trio. Nicholas Luby, Richard Luby, and Dmitry Volkov played Brahms’ expansive melodies with great ease and gave insight to the emotional angst presented in this work. These musicians paired high skills in technique with great emotional sensitivity.

The UNC Violin Symposium is celebrating its fifth year of bringing students to the UNC campus for an intensive week of instruction from some of America’s finest teachers. The faculty for the 2012 symposium includes Patinka Kopec (Manhattan School of Music), Fabian Lopez (UNC-Greensboro), Richard Luby (UNC-Chapel Hill), Kevork Mardirossian (Indiana University), and Eric Pritchard (Duke University). Sunday evening was a wonderful preview of the upcoming festivities, for details of which, see