Cheers to the many smaller classical music ensembles performing throughout our musically bountiful Bay Area! Many a budding musician's beginnings have happened right here in our regional concert venues, proving it isn't necessary to travel to the great concert halls of Berlin, Beijing or Vienna to hear some of the world's most exciting new artists perform.
Sometimes, a drive to Walnut Creek's Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts will satisfy one's lust for great music.
Do so on the afternoon of March 2 for the California Symphony's "Catch a Rising Star" concert, and you'll encounter the virtuosity and passion of someone who could become one of the great violinists of his generation: Kenneth Arthur Renshaw, age 20, performing Felix Mendelssohn's Op. 64 Violin Concerto in E minor.
Renshaw is the first-place winner of the senior division of the Menuhin International Violin Competition, widely considered the creme de la creme of such events, recently held in Beijing. Winning this prestigious prize -- a competition involving 42 finalists from a field of 230 -- has set Renshaw's star soaring.
A couple of decades ago, one of the California Symphony's first concerts featured the diminutive 7-year-old Sarah Chang in one of her first concerto performances. Chang, now a glamorous, world-famous violin diva, has said, "I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity they gave me. They really took a chance on this 7-year-old kid. The very next year, I made my debut with the New York Philharmonic, and the year after that, I recorded my first CD!"
Now it's Renshaw's turn to shine. He was born in 1993 in San Francisco to Kerrilyn and Curtis Renshaw, both musicians. His mother is a pianist and his father, a classical guitarist. Kenneth's passion for the violin began at age 2. His parents rented a 1/16-size violin for him to play. They started Kenneth on formal lessons when he was 4.
In subsequent years, he attended the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, as well as the Crowden School in Berkeley. Other important teachers have been Li Lin, of San Francisco, and Itzhak Perlman from 2009 to 2012. He graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and served as concertmaster for the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2008 to 2010.
The year 2010 was auspicious for young Renshaw. A performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto garnered a first place in the SFSYO's Concerto Competition, which, in turn, resulted in a highly acclaimed performance of it at Davies Symphony Hall.
That same year, he won first prize in the Mozart Concerto Competition and the Sonata Prize at the Sixth Louis Spohr International Violin Competition in Weimar, Germany. The latter prize brought him solo appearances with conductors Simon Rattle, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, Charles Dutoit and a number of major symphony orchestras.
While it was the Sibelius that solidified Renshaw's first place in Beijing, he also dazzled the competition with his interpretations of works by Astor Piazzolla for violin and guitar. His repertoire not only includes the great "three B's," but extends on through Tchaikovsky, Schoenberg, Prokofiev and dozens more.
Details: Other works on the program will be Mark Grey's "Leviathan" Overture for Orchestra; "Tod und Verklarung" by Richard Strauss and the "Flying Dutchman" Overture by Richard Wagner. Donato Cabrera conducts. $15-$65 at 925-943-7469 or www.californiasymphony.org.
Contact Cheryl North at email@example.com.