Linda Bottjer

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January 19, 2012
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Toccata's seventh season opens with favorite traveling violinist

Have violin, will travel could be musician's Elizabeth Pitcairn's motto.

Pitcairn is heading to Lake Tahoe Jan. 19 - 24 for her annual concerts with Toccata. The "Mendelssohn in the Mountains" series is the inauguration of Toccata's seventh season.

Shortly after enchanting music lovers in Tahoe Vista, Incline Village and South Shore, Pitcairn and her legendary red Stradivarius violin are heading to South America and to China for late winter and spring concerts.

"Everything I have worked for in my entire life is coming true," she said.

Dedication is key to her success as she practices on average five hours daily - even with pieces she knows intimately.

Mendelssohn's Concerto in E minor has been a staple in her repertoire since age 15. Noting how audiences react favorably to the piece's ability to deliver poignancy, a touch of sadness and ultimate joy she still eagerly continues to explore it in search for different nuances to highlight.

"I can do better and add something to it," she said.

The piece begins fast only a bar behind the orchestra's entrance.

She laughs when she recalls the story of another violinist missing his almost immediate entrance by not having his violin up and under his chin. His mistake continues to motivate Pitcairn to be in the proper position at the first movement of a conductor's baton.

Practice makes her grateful for the ability to better express Mendelssohn's music she describes as "sparkling and brilliant". She finds the German-born composer's overall body of musical work even more romantic than anything composed by Mozart.

Aside from her solo concerts she also serves as CEO and artistic director of the Luzerne Music Center.

Set in New York State's Adirondack Mountains internationally skilled musicians, between the ages of 11-18, enjoy summer camp while learning from professional musicians.

As with most arts-based organizations fundraising is a non-stop reality.

Like a general gathering her troops, Pitcairn invited a cadre professional friends to join her and form the Luzerne Festival Chamber Players to raise awareness and dollars.

It has provided Pitcairn with a sense of musical family.

"Being a soloist can be lonely, sometimes," she said with humor.

Her annual concerts with Toccata also offer her the chance to interact with longtime friends, such as director and founder James Rawie.

Pitcairn will assist with raising funds for Toccata and the newly formed Tahoe Symphony Youth Orchestra at a special "soiree musicale." It will occur in a private Incline Village home on Saturday, Jan 21. Pitcairn will play as pianist Donna Axton will accompany Toccata soloists.

During the "Mendelssohn in the Mountains" concerts Rawie will lead the 50-voice Symphony Chorus in Part 2 of the composer's symphonic oratorio -Elijah.

Singing the lead role of the prophet is baritone Stuart Duke.

Members from the Truckee Tahoe Community Chorus, under the direction of Susan Horst, will also join the Mendelssohn merriment for the Jan 19 and 21 performances.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jan 19, 2012 07:31PM Published Jan 19, 2012 07:29PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.