A few years ago, when Vadim Gluzman finished playing his 1690 Stradivari violin in New Orleans, the audience, as one, leaped to their feet and cheered. Now, New Orleans audiences are warm, but this was an extraordinary shout-out from music aficionados for a performer many of them had never heard, or heard of, for that matter.
Now, for the third time, Gluzman is back in New Orleans to play with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, having soared into world consciousness and definitely into the hearts of the Crescent City. And he’s bringing that extraordinary violin with him. Owned by the Stradivari Society of Chicago, it is on extended loan to him, an honor he feels intensely.
Born in the Ukraine in 1971, the child of a symphony conductor father and a music teacher mother, Gluzman grew up surrounded by music. So it’s not surprising that he would begin playing an instrument.
But which one?
That decision was made for him when, at age 6, he applied to study at a school for the musically gifted in Riga, Latvia. A jury of examiners looked at his kid-size hands and determined they were perfect for the violin. How they knew that is anyone’s guess. But that’s what they decided, and so that was that.
A decade later the family moved to Israel, where he continued to learn, along with more studies in the United States where, in 1994 at age 23, he received the prestigious Henryk Szeryng Foundation Career Award.
Now married to pianist Angela Yoffe and living in Chicago when he’s not traveling all over the world, he is father to a toddler daughter who — guess what — is learning the violin. Like many professional musicians who really try not to push their children into music, he says it was something he hoped could be avoided, but admits that his little fiddler has a personality as stubborn as his. She just insisted on doing what her daddy does.
Now a New Orleans favorite, with a deep professional friendship with LPO Music Director Carlos Miguel Prieto, Gluzman will perform the staggeringly difficult, enormously powerful Prokofiev Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra on both sides of the lake: on Friday, November 4 on the North Shore at the First Baptist Church Covington, and on Saturday November 5 in New Orleans at the First Baptist Church.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.lpomusic.com or call 504-523-6530
Sharon Litwin, president of NolaVie, writes Culture Watch weekly.