My interest in contemporary music was spearheaded many years ago largely by Liza Grossman (Music Director and Founder of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra), and I eagerly champion new music (at least, music that makes sense and evokes an emotional reaction in the listener). Thus, I decided to commission a violin concerto that I could premiere during the 2007-2008 season. The name that immediately came to mind was composer Evan Fein, a very good friend and classmate of mine, and a wonderful pianist in his own right. Evan and I first began collaborating in 2004 with a Mozart sonata here and a Beethoven sonata there. I brought up the idea of a concerto with him in May of 2006, and that summer in Berlin, Evan sketched the first movement, which later received its premiere on a Kent State University recital in October. I must say, this concerto is unique as it seemingly spans several eras…a lush, neo-romantic early 20th century feeling combined with some jagged moments, and sections that evoke jazz and habanera motifs. What adds to the individuality of this concerto is that I asked Evan to compose it with my personality in mind…no easy task! We are recording the first two movements with the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra in January with Kirk Wilke conducting (in the composition reading sessions). I am so thrilled to work on a piece with a living, breathing composer who can correct every nuance and articulation each step of the way. More lyrical compositions like this are needed in the violinist’s contemporary repertoire, and I am eager to present this concerto in its entirety.