Minneapolis, Minnesota

Audience members for the inaugural event by Minnesota Public Radio’s artist-in-residence for 2011/12 shared a gemstone experience in the tour de force performance by violinist Chad Hoopes, 17.

photo of Chad Hoopes credit Donna Wheatley

From the outset of his two-hour program in Antonello Hall at the MacPhail Center for Music, August 25, Hoopes relinquished control of neither his virtuosity nor his concentrated passion, mesmerizing listeners with accomplished readings of a range of composers, including Brahms, Bach, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, and Schubert.

Hoopes opened the 45-minute first half, accompanied by pianist Charles Kemper, with Brahm’s Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 100, in the only work not committed fully to memory. He followed with a snappy, solo rendition of J.S. Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1, BWV 1001.

Post-intermission, Hoopes and Kemper breezed beautifully through Prokofiev’s Five Melodies for Violin and Piano, Op. 35bis, and Tchaikovsky’s Three Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 42.

It was in Ravel’s Tzigane, however, that Hoopes tore through both music and the stage with a controlled rip, at times waving his bow like a baseball bat and visibly relishing his mastery of the nuanced complexities. He said later that he had played Tzigane publicly for the first time, in Germany, only a few weeks earlier.

The program reached its exquisite end with the encore performance of Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria. Hoopes heard the work for the first time only in 2010, but his inspired proficiency with the 1713 Antonio Stradivari Cooper; Hakkert; ex Ceci violin – coupled with Antonello’s acoustics – gave the double-stops and overtones the effect of a full string section.

A first teacher, Nancy Lokken, might expect no less from a native Minnesotan who was but three years old when Santa Claus delivered his first violin. In a post-performance q-and-a, Lokken observed that Hoopes’ facility of playing from the heart “was there at the beginning.”

During his MPR residency, Hoopes will present concerts, educational sessions, public appearances, and interviews. In March 2012, he will visit elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Minnesota to talk about the importance of music and the arts and of doing one’s best in any endeavor.

Hoopes is represented by IMG Artists. Photo by Donna Wheatley.

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