The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 5th


North Carolina Symphony welcomes Chapel Hill audience

The North Carolina Symphony will visit its birthplace at the University this Saturday.

The Symphony is returning to UNC to showcase its principal bass player, who will play a concerto he has been rehearsing all his life.

When Leonid Finkelshteyn — the North Carolina Symphony’s Principal bass player — was six years old, he began a path that would eventually bring him from his hometown of St. Petersburg to Raleigh.

It was at this age that he began to learn to play piano.

When he was 19 years old, he joined the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra as the youngest musician in the orchestra. Three years after he moved to the United States in 1990, he joined the North Carolina Symphony.

In the 21 years that he has been with the orchestra, he has performed his particular concerto only once.

“Bass players rarely perform concerto with the orchestra. I’m lucky enough that once in a while they let me play here with the orchestra. The last time I played this piece with the orchestra was in 1998,” Finkelshteyn said.

It is a solo for double bass composed by Serge Koussevitsky, a Russian principal and soloist musician, composer and conductor.

“It is a very, very cool piece, very romantic, lots of long lines. More than technical, it is for the singing quality of the bass,” Finkelshteyn said.

“All of our musicians are really superb, so we like showcasing them and featuring them,” said Joe Newberry, the symphony’s director of communications.

While Finkelshteyn said that he has been playing Koussevitsky’s concerto for most of his musical career as a staple of the bass curriculum, the symphony only practices as a whole once or twice before each performance.

“It is the power of having a live 66-piece orchestra. It’s amazing. It’s a big sound,” Newberry said.

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