Two Classical Music Virtuosos Create a Beautiful Night

Back in January, the Rogue Valley Symphony introduced us to a wonderful new violinist. Ian Swensen played Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, and those who came to the concert will remember the way he played his fiddle, almost touching the conductor’s baton, so passionately wanting to create music together with the orchestra.


Yarrow Sylvan, who attended the concert with her family, said, “I started to weep after his first note…it was so beautiful. His intense love and devotion for music was palpable.”


Not only was the audience moved by his performance, but also the orchestra members’. I was one of them. As I played on the stage, I wished to hear him perform again. As I chatted with other people in the community, it was clear that I was not alone in that wish. “His concert would be a great success,” I thought, and the idea for a concert was born.


From the beginning, I had someone particular in mind to accompany Ian just perfectly: Alexander Tutunov, our Rogue Valley resident pianist. When Alexander reacted favorably to the initial pitch, I was thrilled about what might ignite between these two fabulous musicians.


Each had come from totally different backgrounds and heritages, and yet each had polished the highest level of the universal language: music. My mind raced with excitement, and I knew that somebody just had to pull it together. And so, D. Productions proudly presents Ian Swensen and Alexander Tutunov in Concert September 8 at 8:00pm in the SOU Recital Hall.

Ian Swensen’s Story


“I didn’t like practicing when I was little,” says Ian Swensen, who started playing the violin at the age of four.


He was born into a musical family in New York: his Japanese mother, a highly accomplished pianist, and his Norwegian father, a Juilliard-trained Clarinetist and music teacher. He grew up listening to his parents making music together, and he and his two siblings either played violin or piano from a young age. “It was like a farmer growing up on a farm. In my case, it was a ‘music farm’; there was no choice not to play music.” Although he didn’t always love practicing, he kept at it everyday. At the age of 13, he entered the Juilliard School of Music.


At 21 years old, the Meliora String Quartet that he had formed won top prize at the prestigious Walter W. Naumburg International Competition. Within a month, he also won the top prize for solo violin performance. “I don’t think I would have won the solo had I not been playing in the quartet. As a musician, you learn so much from playing chamber music.”


While touring with the quartet internationally, he was also sought after as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and a teacher. Even after the quartet disbanded many years later, he kept up with his active career. He has been a featured soloist with many symphonies such as the Boston Philharmonic, the Boston Pops and the Toulouse Symphony of France. He has also performed on numerous recital series at such venues as the Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and Harvard University.


Asked about his experience in Oregon, Swensen said, “I loved playing in the Rogue Valley. I felt the audience was right there, experiencing the music with me. I felt a rush of freedom and I could just let go and play…I am thrilled to come back!”

On Alexander Tutunov


The pianist, Alexander Tutunov, is a winner at the Russian National Competition. He has performed widely in the former Soviet Union, Poland, Czech Republic, China, Mexico and the United States as a recitalist, soloist with orchestra and a recording artist. Since moving to Ashland as Director of Keyboard Studies at SOU, he has acquired a wide range of fans and followers in the Valley, though many of his performances have been outside of Oregon. In the 2007-2008 season, he will perform solo with the Rogue Valley Symphony for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in April. When asked about his upcoming concert, Tutunov said, “I am very excited to play with Ian. I heard him play in January and he is fantastic!”


Join Ian Swensen and Alexander Tutunov Saturday, September 8, in the SOU Recital Hall. Concert starts at 8:00pm (doors open at 7:30). The program will feature the works of Bach, Mozart, Prokofiev and Ravel. Tickets are $20, $28 premium section, $10 student and are available at Paddington Station and the Music Coop. For more information, call D.Productions: 482-4361 or e-mail:

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