When writing a concerto, says composer Jonathan Leshnoff, “I really have to become that instrument. Every instrument has its own personality and idiosyncrasies, just like people.”
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will present the world premiere of Leshnoff’s Cello Concerto this weekend, along with George Antheil’s Serenade for String Orchestra and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor. Leshnoff’s piece will feature the renowned Russian-American cellist Nina Kotova.
Leshnoff describes the concerto as “a very moody piece.” He says, “It touches a very deep place in my creative writing, very soulful and exuberant.” The Baltimore-based composer has penned concertos for flute, violin, percussion and clarinet, and is currently creating a piece for Grammy-winning guitar master Manuel Barrueco. The cello, he says, affords him a broad palette.
“The cello is a fantastic instrument to work with,” he says. “Some instruments are more limited, but the cello has so much freedom. It can scream, it can cry, it can sing, it can dance and it can whisper.”
Leshnoff was born in New Jersey, but his father hails from Northeast Philly and his parents met at Penn, so he feels a bond with the city. His works have been performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.
March 3 and 4
Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, Broad and Spruce Sts.