Associate Concertmaster Heidi Harris performs Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto Friday and Saturday at Powell Hall. She is one of 50 St. Louis Symphony musicians selected by David Robertson to perform solos with the orchestra this season. Heidi shared these thoughts about her music director and the concerto.
“Most people know David Robertson as the vivacious maestro up on the podium leading us in concerts, and as the Music Director of our beloved St. Louis Symphony. As a musician, I feel so lucky to be able to know David off the podium as well, and know what a generous and kind person he is.
“I recently asked David if he would listen to my Mendelssohn Concerto and give me some feedback. This was an unusual request in a way, because he is not the conductor for the upcoming Mendelssohn concerts. The request meant asking him to spend his valuable time and energy helping for a concert he wasn’t even going to conduct! I really wanted David’s feedback because I respect him so much, and since I have performed solos with him before where he was the conductor, I trust his instincts implicitly about how I play a piece of music and whether or not what I’m doing musically will fit in naturally with the orchestral tutti or not.
“In David’s usual, casual, and friendly fashion, he agreed immediately to listen to me. David gave me great feedback, and was extremely helpful to me, for which I am very grateful! He is one of the busiest people I know, always jet setting to and fro, but he made time to listen to one of his own when he was needed. He is just that kinda guy.
“When I found out that I was asked to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, I cried. Really, I did. I was so incredibly happy not only to get the chance to perform as soloist with my very own orchestra, but especially happy to be able to perform the Mendelssohn. No doubt you have brilliantly written program notes to read regarding the concerto, so I’d like to share what I feel about it personally instead of speaking about it historically.
“I learned the Mendelssohn as a young child, and when you learn a piece when you are young there is something extremely organic and very special about it. It’s in your blood, so to speak, and becomes a part of you. It has time to marinate and age with you as you yourself age, like a fine wine ages over time. I feel this way about the Mendelssohn, like it’s an old friend that has been a part of me for many, many years. My musical ideas have changed over time, and also my technique, so this in turn changes my relationship with the concerto in interesting ways. It’s always fresh, it’s always changing. The Mendelssohn is at once romantic and classic, which is my absolute favorite combination in any type of music. I absolutely love it, and am so excited about performing it with the symphony orchestra that I love, the St. Louis Symphony.”