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Noted violinist to open Utah Symphony season

Joshua Bell owns a priceless violin - a 1713 Stradivarius.
Joshua Bell owns a priceless violin - a 1713 Stradivarius.

Breaking with its long-standing tradition of opening the new season with a guest pianist, the Utah Symphony will kick off its 2003-04 season Friday and Saturday with acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell, who will be marking his Utah Symphony debut at these concerts.

The Grammy Award-winning performer joins the orchestra and music director Keith Lockhart in Max Bruch's melodic Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor. It has been popular among violinists and audiences alike since its premiere in 1868. Bell's recording of the work with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields has just been rereleased on the London/Decca label.

Unlike many string instrumentalists, Bell makes no secret that he plays on a priceless violin. His instrument is a 1713 Stradivarius with a checkered history. Known as the "Gibson ex Huberman," it was once owned by the Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman. The violin was stolen from Huberman's dressing room at Carnegie Hall in the 1930s and remained missing for half a century. It wasn't recovered until the 1980s, when the thief made a deathbed confession. When the violin came up for sale shortly thereafter, former owner Norbert Brainin informed Bell, and Bell was able to forestall the instrument's imminent sale to a collector and purchase it himself.

In addition to the Bruch concerto, the concert will include Beethoven's "Leonore" Overture No. 1 and Dvork's Symphony No. 9 in E minor ("From the New World").

The concerts take place in Abravanel Hall with Friday's performance beginning a half-hour earlier than usual, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday's concert will start at the customary 8 p.m.

Tickets range from $16-$47 and are available by calling ArtTix at 355-2787 or 1-888-451-2787. They can also be purchased online at www.utahsymphonyopera.org

Annual tea is Tuesday

The Utah Symphony Guild will hold its annual Symphony Tea on Tuesday, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the home of Marylin Neilson, 269 A St. For more information, call Marsha Keen at 943-6767.