Conductor Piotr Gribanov and violinist Ji-Won Song in rehearsal
My orchestra St. Michel Strings regularly joins forces with the Lappeenranta City Orchestra to form a bigger group called Saimaa Sinfonietta which gives a concert in both cities. For my players this is a very welcome opportunity to play symphonic repertoire, since usually we only perform as a string orchestra. This week the conductor was one of my old teachers, Piotr Gribanov, so there was no way I was going to miss the concert.
Originally our soloist for Brahms Violin Concerto was supposed to be Stanislav Izmailov from the Mariinsky Theatre orchestra, but just ten days before the concert he had to pull out because of a hand injury. When he contacted me I was in Seoul conducting Beethoven's 9th, and I started to look for a replacement right away while I was there. Luckily a player I knew from last summer's Great Mountains Music Festival, Ji-Won Song was available and ready to play this difficult work in a very short notice!
The program was great, starting with Beethoven's Coriolan overture, and finishing with Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony. First concert was in Lappeenranta, and it was very enjoyable even though the acoustics of Lappeenranta Town Hall leave a lot to desire. It is a shame that this orchestra has no proper concert hall to perform in (Jyväskylä Orchestra is in a similar difficult situation). The second concert took place in the Martti Talvela concert hall in Mikaeli, our home venue, and the difference in sound was just breathtaking. The attendance was very good and the audience did not want to let the players offstage after the performance! I was very glad that both Piotr Gribanov and Ji-Won Song could make their Finnish debut under such happy circumstances. Hopefully we can hear both of them soon again in Finland!