Castleman, Symphony wow audience

Posted March 31, 2016


Conductor Thomas Sleeper, guest conductor Scott Flavin, the Frost Symphony Orchestra and the famous violinist, Charles Castleman, brought a vibrant, fabulous and professional performance at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall at the University of Miami.

The concert opened with “The Tragic Overture, Op. 81,” composed by Brahms, performed by the Frost Symphony Orchestra and directed by Thomas Sleeper.

“The Tragic Overture, Op. 81,” is a concert overture for orchestra written by Johannes Brahms during the summer of 1880. The “Tragic” in the title is chosen to emphasize the turbulent, tormented character of the piece, in essence, a free-standing symphonic movement, in contrast to the mirthful ebullience of a companion piece he wrote the same year, the ”Academic Festival Overture.”

Despite its name, this piece “Tragic” does not follow any particular dramatic program. Brahms was not very interested in musical storytelling and was more concerned with conveying and eliciting emotional impressions. He summed up the effective difference between the two overtures when he declared “one laughs while the other cries.”

Frost Symphony Orchestra Ensemble (Photo courtesy of the Frost School of Music, University of Miami).

The performance of the Frost Symphony Orchestra well interprets the core feeling of “The Tragic Overture, Op. 81.” The Frost Symphony Orchestra (FSO) formed by nearly hundred of performers who are UM Music School students and teaching assistants. When the first note of this piece sounded, the auditorium was like a swimming pool in which a stone has been dropped. It is like a ripple in the water.

By just looking at the body language of the Frost Symphony Orchestra performers, audiences feel worthy of purchasing their tickets. The performers are well merged with their instruments and their music.

After finished the first piece, violinist Charles Castleman joined the Orchestra to perform the second piece. The guest conductor, Scott Flavin, came to stage to direct them.

What would be the most technically challenging work for a violinist? Probably is the “Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35,” was written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1878. It has been considered as one of the best-known violin concertos and this is the second piece of the performance.

This piece gives violinist a chance to demonstrate the modern playing technique of the violin, with the wonderfully orchestral, makes this violin concerto has an everlasting appeal. Also, this piece contains the local color of the Russian people. Its unique melody with full of sorrow makes this piece becomes a novel and unique work.

Listening the performance of Castleman and the Frost Symphony Orchestra, audiences can feel that this violin concerto is a cheerful, lively and full of youth work. The piece is singing of the youth Russian and singing about life. From this piece, audiences can have a visual of many optimistic Russian people who are looking forward to their great future.

Charles Castleman is one of the most active performers and pedagogues on the violin in the worldwide. He has been soloist with the orchestras of Philadelphia, Boston, Brisbane, Chicago, Hong Kong, Moscow, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, Seoul and Shanghai.

Charles Castleman (Biophotos courtesy of the Frost School of Music, University of Miami).

In 1975, Castleman became the professor of Violin at The Eastman School of Music. He recently become the professor of Frost School of Music, University of Miami. He also conducted many master classes.

Castleman was slightly late and without formal attire for the performance because of the Miami’s traffic. but when he arrived with a striking stage presence and started to play the violin, everyone is silenced.

During his performance, Castleman closed his eyes, moved with the melody and sensed the music. Then the wonderful music flew through the strings and his fingers.

Sometimes, people think that live classical music can be heard, however, with a little imagination, audiences have a visual experience as well. The audience can see where the notes are going, follow a clear path. Therefore this performance can be visualized.

The performer used the four strings of his violin and the support from the Frost Symphony Orchestra to fill in the harmonies. With a flexible and steady bow arm, he finished the piece in a clean playing style.

Music is a language but far stronger than any spoke languages. After the performance of Castleman and the Frost Symphony Orchestra, the audience understands the power of the music. The audience doesn’t need to have full knowledge of orchestra and violin, feel it, sense it and it will connect with the tune and understand the spirit of it.

Castleman received an enthusiastic response from the audience, a standing ovation and three curtain calls. Then he came back to the stage and played another encore to thank audiences.

This is a wonderful performance and a great opportunity for the audiences to relax.

  • Performance: Frost Symphony Orchestra with Violinist Charles Castleman
  • Director: Thomas Sleeper
  • Guest Conductor: Scott Flavin
  • Performers: Charles Castleman- Violinist; Frost Symphony Orchestra
  • Location: UM Gusman Concert Hall, 1314 Miller Drive, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla. 33146
  • Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes, one intermission.
  • Price: Adult ($16 + $4 fee), Senior ($11 + $4 fee), $4 convenience fee per ticket will be applied to all online, phone and box office orders upon checkout, UM Students free with Cane ID, one hour before concert start, subject to availability.
  • Rating: (4.5/5)