Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra to perform Feb. 8


The Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony Orchestra will perform Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Tickets are $10. Northwestern State University, BPCC@NSU and Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts students are admitted free with a current student I.D.

Dr. Douglas Bakenhus is music director of the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony. Josie Gonzalez Masmela is the graduate assistant conductor.

The concert features Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante” played by Professor of Violin Andrej Kurti and his wife Adjunct Professor of Violin/Viola Sofiko Tchetchelashvili on viola. The orchestra will also play the overture to the opera “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck, “Nocturne for Violin, Viola, and Chamber Orchestra” by Vaja Azarashvili, “Music for Prague 1968” by Karel Husa and Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture.”

Husa won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1969, and this is his best known piece. He was born and raised in Prague in 1921. He left in 1946 to study composition in Paris, and couldn’t return after a communist regime took over. Husa eventually came to the United States and taught at Cornell University from 1956 to 1992.

In August 1968, he was commissioned to compose a piece for the Ithaca College Band. At about the same time, he heard the news of the Soviet Union army invading Prague. While listening to his transistor radio describing the tragic events, he began composing this piece originally for concert band but wrote an orchestra version the following year. He was exiled from his home country until the iron curtain fell, and he was able to go back to Prague in 1990 to conduct this piece with the Czech Philharmonic. Shortly after this concert, he was awarded the Czech Medal of Honor by the Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel.

Kurti, an internationally acclaimed violinist, was born in Belgrade, Serbia, where he began his violin career in the studio of professor Djula Tešenji. He continued his studies in Moscow “Tchaikovsky” Conservatory in studios of professors Levon Ambartsumian and Zorya Schikmurzaeva. Kurti finished his graduate studies at the University of Georgia, where he received a doctorate degree in violin performance.

He was a recipient of five first prizes in competitions in Yugoslavia, four first prizes in competitions in Georgia and Florida, and a finalist of the MTNA (Music Teacher National Association) Competition in 1998.

In 2000, Kurti became a recording artist for classical label Blue Griffin Recording, for which he later recorded “Six Sonatas for Violin Solo” by Eugene Ysaye, op. 27. In 2004, Kurti became a professor of violin at Northwestern State. He has appeared as a soloist with symphony orchestras in the United States, Serbia, Montenegro, Italy, Greece, Russia and France. He also appeared as a chamber performer in Spain, France, Latvia, Canada and South Korea.

In the non-classical music world, Kurti performed and arranged on more than 40 albums of popular and modern music, which he recorded for many different music labels in the United States.

Kurti has been invited to several international music festivals where he most often performed music written for solo violin. In 2015, Kurti performed Ysaye’s op.27 in his Road to Carnegie nation-wide recital series, culminating with his Carnegie Hall debut.

Kurti has remained a very active concert violinist, where, besides solo and chamber recitals, he appears as a soloist with chamber and symphony orchestras in United States and abroad, performing masterworks by Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Williams and Sarasate.

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Tchetchelashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, where she began her violin carrier in the studio of professor Alla Laperashvili. She continued her studies at Tbilisi State Conservatory in the studio of professor Ernst Arakelov, before completing her graduate studies in the studio of professor Rodam Jandieri.

In 2014, Tchetchelashvili accepted graduate assistantship at Baylor University, and two years later she completed another graduate degree in violin performance.

Tchetchelashvili was a winner of four Georgian national violin competitions, as well as a recipient of two consecutive President’s Awards.

She joined Northwestern State’s faculty in 2016 and maintains an active concert schedule.