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Sarah Chang provides brilliant opening for Brevard / Greenville Online

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The Brevard Music Center had a nightmare on its hands. A few days before the opening concert of its summer festival, famed pianist Andre Watts fell ill and was unable to perform as soloist. But no problem. Such is the reputation of this music series, now in its 79th year, that another acclaimed soloist - violinist Sarah Chang - was engaged on very short notice. It was a fairly stunning victory for the center, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains a little more than an hour from Greenville.

At Brevard last week, Chang offered a dynamic account of Max Bruch's First Violin Concerto, with the Brevard Music Center Orchestra under the direction of JoAnn Falletta. Chang, performing in the Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, brought a robust sound and chiseled clarity to the concerto. The first movement was impassioned, the second delivered sweetly. Chang dashed off the famously lively third movement with brio. (Chang, a devoted user of social media, had complained on Twitter of a bad cold. But there was no sign of indisposition in her polished playing.) The Bruch concerto is a sentimental favorite for Chang. It was this work, after all, that she played at age 5 when auditioning for the Juilliard School. (She was accepted into the highly competitive program.)

Chang, 34, who has performed with all of the world's major orchestras, is one of the most in-demand soloists on the international concert circuit. The Brevard Music Orchestra, under Falletta's commanding leadership, accompanied Chang with its usual go-for-broke gusto. The program also featured Beethoven's "Leonore" Overture No. 3 and the composer's Symphony No. 7.

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