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Mitchell Arnold to Conduct the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra in Performance
Friday, April 9, 8 p.m., in Finney Chapel
Will Feature Concerto Competition Winner Christophor Miroshnikov on Cello

by Linda Shockley

PROGRAM:

Overture to Nabucco
Giuseppe Verdi

Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op 107 Dmitri Shostakovich
I. Allegretto
II. Moderato -
III. Cadenza -
IV. Allegro con moto

Christophor Miroshnikov, violoncello

- intermission -

Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op.92
Ludwig van Beethoven
I. Poco sostenuto - Vivace
II. Allegretto
III. Presto - Assai meno presto - Presto - Assai meno presto - Presto
IV. Allegro con brio

Mitchell Arnold,
Visiting Assistant Professor of Conducting
Every fall semester, Conservatory seniors and artist diploma students compete for a few hotly contested chances to solo for a performance of the Oberlin Orchestra or Oberlin Chamber Orchestra. One of those 1998-99 winners, cellist Christophor Miroshnikov (Artist Diploma '99), will be featured in an April 9 concert, 8 p.m., in Finney Chapel. Miroshnikov will perform with the orchestra on Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, Op. 107 by Dmitri Shostakovich.

"This piece is a powerful, passionate and challenging concerto; it is physically exhausting to perform. The most difficult part is performing under the orchestra. There's a feeling with this concerto that the orchestra could just eat you," said Miroshnikov, with a laugh.

Mitchell Arnold, visiting assistant professor of conducting, agrees and elaborates. "In this instance, I inherited Shostakovich's concerto as a way to showcase the work of Christophor as a concerto winner. What's most striking about the concerto - in addition to the depth of expression of the solo part and its technical demands - is the almost incessant driving, rhythmic character of the orchestral accompaniment, which is most clearly heard in the first movement and the finale.

"All concertos throughout music history in some way pit the soloist and orchestra against one another, yet have them working in concert with one another. The word "concerto" is known to derive from two roots with apparent opposite meanings. One root suggests to work against - soloist vs. orchestra - while the other suggests to work "in concert". All concertos contain elements of both meanings."

Arnold added, "Another interesting aspect of this piece and of Shostakovich's work in general, involves history and politics. If one believes, as I do, the revised history of Shostakovich, then we must no longer view him as a stooge or tool of the Soviet State. Rather, I think his music pits the individual with choice against the apparatus of the State and its bureaucracy. One hook for the piece is to hear much of the accompaniment as a driving, industrial, mechanical apparatus, while the soloist represents the individual. I don't want to demean the music by framing it in such simplistic, political terms, but the sounds of the orchestra and the sounds of the soloists make it so easy and obvious to draw that conclusion."

The remaining two featured pieces on the program are by Giuseppe Verdi and Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op.92 by Ludwig van Beethoven.

"Both works complement the rather bleak intensity of the Shostakovich," said Arnold. "Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 has long been recognized for its rhythmic complexity and drive. In fact, it has no true slow movement, other than the Introduction to the first movement Vivace, and even the relatively slow beat of the Introduction is often subdivided into much quicker pulses. Beethoven also pushed dynamics to extremes; several passages are locked into extremely soft or extremely loud levels for periods of up to two minutes. The unrelenting character of these passages, combined with their incessant rhythmic activity leads to overwhelming dramatic climaxes.

"Verdi's Overture to Nabucco included his ever-popular va pensiero chorus from the opera into the Overture but here casts it more as an Italian serenade featuring solo winds. In addition to somber trombone chorales, Verdi also featured the opera's Il maledetto (curse music), which, transforming from the minor to major mode, drives the Overture to its triumphant conclusion."

About Mitchell Arnold:

Mitchell Arnold, Visiting Assistant Professor of Conducting at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, recently held the positions of Director of the Northern Illinois University Philharmonic and Resident Conductor of the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra. From 1994 to 1996, he was Assistant Director of Orchestras and Director of the Chamber Orchestra at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He was appointed Co-conductor of the Northwestern University Summer Orchestra in 1993, Conductor in 1995. Mr. Arnold has appeared with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Chamber Orchestra at Grant Park, Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, Northwestern University Chamber Orchestra, Northwestern University Philharmonic Orchestra, University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra, and the North Suburban Symphony Orchestra (Lake Forest, Illinois).

He has made numerous appearances as a guest conductor of various orchestras and new music ensembles. While at Northwestern University, he conducted productions of Oklahoma, Carousel, Brigadoon, Massenet's Cendrillon, Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel, and Bizet's Carmen. He also conducted Yeoman of the Guard at the University of Chicago. In 1978, he founded the critically-acclaimed Pitzen Brass Ensemble which he conducted through 1989. Mr. Arnold composed and performed at the keyboard with the noted Chicago new music ensemble, Kapture, from 1979 to 1991.

Arnold was born in New York City, and at age six, began studying piano and music theory in the preparatory department of the Juilliard School. He completed his Doctor of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting at Northwestern University where he was a student of Victor Yampolsky, and studied opera conducting with Frederick Ockwell. Other conducting teachers include Dr. Jon Robertson and Paul Vermel.

About Christophor Miroshnikov:

Christophor Miroshnikov, Russian-Greek cellist, is a second year Artist's Diploma student, studying with Andor Toth, at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He was born in the former Soviet Union in 1974, and is the fourth generation of a family of performing artists and music educators. He began musical education at the age of five, when he began to study cello after meeting the acclaimed Russian violinist Leonid Kogan. Upon completion of studies at the secondary Tchaikovsky School of Music, he was admitted to the Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Moscow where he studied with cellist Natalia Shakhovskaya (a student of M. Rostropovich). Miroshnikov has performed as soloist with symphony and chamber orchestras in the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Russia. He has performed on numerous recordings for Russian radio and television. His repertoire covers the major compositions of both western European and Russian pre-classical and contemporary composers.

Competition Highlights:

  • 1998-99: Awarded Oberlin Concerto Competition
  • 1998: Awarded first prize in the Schadt String Competition in Allentown, Pennsylvania
  • 1997: Graduated from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Moscow, where he received the "Dean's Talent Award" scholarship
  • 1990: Miroshnikov was only 16 when he was awarded second prize at the Young Artists International Competition in Hungary.

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