Gwinnett Philharmonic season begins with a violin favorite

The Gwinnett Philharmonic will launch its new season Tuesday at the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center. The ambitious season is filled with opportunities to satisfy the most demanding classical, pops and jazz-loving concertgoer.

The first concert will be a special crowd-pleaser, as it features one of the most well-loved works for violin, Felix Mendelssohn's "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E Minor."

Performing this masterpiece will be Raymond Leung, an artist of great experience and visibility in the Atlanta community. Leung has been a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for the past 15 years, performing in the violin section. He is also a founding member of the Lyra String Quartet, which is the string quartet in residence at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta.

Leung is a native of Hong Kong. He began his studies there as a pupil of Thomas Wang, and began winning competition prizes at an early age. His first visit to the United States was on full scholarship to the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Mich. He returned to the United States two years later, again on a full scholarship to the North Carolina School of the Arts.

He holds a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, a master's degree in music from Indiana University at Bloomington, and an artist diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Another draw for music lovers will be the classical favorite Mendelssohn Concerto. Mendelssohn wrote it between 1838 and 1844 for his friend Ferdinand David. It was first presented in Leipzig, Germany, on March 13, 1845, with David as soloist. Mendelssohn had first met this friend when he was only 16 and the violinist only 15. The concerto is an enduring tribute to their friendship.

The work has also been associated with child prodigies. The premiere with David performing was a great success, but six months later the concerto was presented by a 14-year-old, Joseph Joachim, who went on to become the 19th century's most prominent artist on that instrument. Since then, the concerto has been a favorite with young musicians - its musical difficulties show off their technical prowess and the beautiful melodies offer opportunity for artistic expression.

No wonder the work is so popular. Gwinnett audiences can enjoy the concert at 8 p.m. Tuesday as the new season is launched at the Performing Arts Center at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.

Tickets are $28 for adults, $24 for seniors, $22 for members and $12 for students. They are available through Ticketmaster by calling 404-249-6400 or by visiting the Gwinnett Center Box Office. Season tickets are also still available.

For more information about the Gwinnett Philharmonic season, visit www.gwinnettphilharmonic.org or call 770-418-1115.