MSO presents Mozart to Mendelssohn
The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will feature two of its own as guest artists at its upcoming concert “Mozart to Mendelssohn... & More!”
The Saturday, Nov. 11, and Sunday, Nov. 12, concerts will highlight MSO Concertmaster Rob Martin and MSO assistant principal viola Magaly Rojas Seay in Mozart’s “Sinfonia Concertante,” a piece in three movements for violin, viola and orchestra.
Rojas Seay, who also is MSO personnel manager, said she was excited when she heard of the proposal for the MSO to perform “Sinfonia Concertante,” as it is one of her favorites.
“I was extremely grateful and happy to jump on board for this opportunity,” she said. “There are not many pieces written for solo viola and certainly this is Mozart’s only solo viola work. It’s a very easy piece to like. I think the writing is really good and it has a lot of beautiful melodies within it. At least for me, I think for a violist and a violinist, it’s great fun to play.”
The violin plays, and the viola answers, and then the two play together, she said.
“It will be interesting, and really nice for the audience to hear, hopefully,” Rojas Seay said.
Both instruments play in the first movement in a “duet kind of setting,” she said.
“They kind of trade off ideas. The second movement has a slower character, and the third movement is very playful and fun. It kind of expresses Mozart’s humor and light-hearted spirit,” Rojas Seay said.
The program also will feature Haydn’s “Symphony No. 88 in G Major” and Mendelssohn’s “Symphony No. 4, Italian, in A Major.”
Rojas Seay said the MSO audience might be “a little new” to violin and viola in a featured role.
“Certainly violin and viola have a lot of similarities, but the viola is bigger inside and lower in tune, not in the same range as a violin. It’s kind of like the viola is the alto voice of the chorus, that part that is not super high and not super low, but that part in the middle,” she said.
Rojas Seay, who is originally from Philadelphia, grew up in the Northern Virginia area and began studying violin at age 9 as a fourth-grader in public school.
“It was a huge thing for me when, I think, a string quartet came from a high school to play for my elementary school,” she said. “They played ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Pink Panther’. I was like, ‘Sign me up!’”
At 16, Rojas Seay said, she learned how to play viola “on a dare.”
“I kind of picked it up myself then sought out a teacher to further my actual studies,” she said.
The tenured MSO member also is a member of the Savannah Philharmonic in Savannah, Ga.,
and has undergraduate and graduate degrees in viola performance from Catholic University.
“I basically minored in violin at that point. I focused on viola. That was pretty cool. I didn’t realize, I think, until I got to college, how much I loved the sound of the instrument and loved playing viola. It was a little musical journey for me,” she said.
Rojas Seay has played with musical organizations across the east coast. She also has performed with Stevie Wonder; Earth, Wind & Fire; Il Volo; and Josh Groban.
Rob Martin, who will perform the violin solo for “Sinfonia Concertante,” began studying violin at age three, and went on to attend Temple University’s Center for Gifted Young Musicians in his hometown of Philadelphia. At 13, he debuted with the Philadelphia Orchestra, then went on to perform with Eastman Philharmonia and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Martin earned a bachelor’s degree at Eastman School of Music. He has performed at various music festivals and is Concertmaster of the U.S. Army Orchestra.
The opportunity to play viola and violin solos along with the orchestra is unique and exciting, Rojas Seay said.
“It’s great because we will be playing with colleagues,” she said. “It’s not a complete solo, so that makes it even more fun, and hopefully that audience will pick up on that as well.”