Southeastern Chamber Orchestra to perform ‘Farewell Concert’ May 2 in honor of retiring conductor

Thursday, April 27, 2017 Yakov Voldman
by: Rene Abadie

MUSICALLY SPEAKING – Retiring Southeastern Louisiana University Professor of Music and Conducting Yakov Voldman will conduct the Chamber Orchestra Concert in its performance, “Farewell Concert,” scheduled May 2 at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Hammond.

     HAMMOND – The Southeastern Louisiana University Chamber Orchestra will perform its annual spring concert on Tuesday, May 2, at 7 p.m. in the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in downtown Hammond.
     Titled “Farewell Concert,” the program will be the final concert at Southeastern under the direction of retiring Professor of Violin Yakov Voldman.  The concert, which will feature classic pieces by Wagner, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and others, will include a number of alumni musicians performing with the student orchestra.
     General admission tickets are $10 for adults; $5 faculty, staff, seniors, and non-Southeastern students. Southeastern students are admitted free with their university ID cards. Tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office at 220 East Thomas St. or at the door on the night of the concert. Call 985-543-4371 for ticket information.
     The evening’s program will open with Prelude to Act III from the opera “Lohengrin” by Wagner and will also include Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat major BMV, and two pieces by Mendelssohn: “Concerto in D minor” and “Violin Concerto in E minor op.64.” The program will also include such well-known pieces such as Suppe’s “Light Cavalry Overture,” Tchaikovsky’s waltz from “Swan Lake,” and will conclude with Rossini’s “William Tell Overture.”
     “This is a major life event for Professor Voldman and his family. We thank him for his years of teaching and dedication to Southeastern and the Hammond community,” said Dale Newkirk, interim head of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. “We will witness the final concert under the direction of Professor Voldman, who will retire after 24 years of dedicated service to Southeastern and his students. There have been many memorable concerts throughout the years, and this concert performed by his students from the past and present will be a memorable event.”
     “I am sad that I will no longer be a part of the cultural landscape of this community and Southeastern,” said Voldman, who will be moving with his wife, pianist Raisa Voldman, to Colorado to be near his son. “I am eternally grateful that 24 years ago I was given the opportunity to serve Southeastern, and I thank all the people who believed in me and trusted in my ability to create the string program and build an orchestra from scratch.”
     Voldman said the concert leaves him with a bittersweet feeling in his heart.
     “I am overwhelmed with joy seeing so many of my former and current students, who are now accomplished musicians and exceptional individuals, come together for this performance. I am honored, proud and grateful to have been a part of their growth as musicians and to have witnessed and rejoiced in their successes.”
     A native of Moldova in Eastern Europe, Voldman studied violin at the Moscow Conservatory. In 1990 he moved to the United States, -- “the land of opportunity,” as he says – to raise his son in a free nation. After a few years of menial employment – him stocking shelves in a liquor store, his wife washing dishes in a restaurant -- both he and his wife became proficient in English and were able to find work in their fields of music.
     The family moved to Hammond in 1992, where he joined the music faculty and organized the string program which had few students at Southeastern. He said Southeastern then did not have a strong string program, and focused primarily on teaching music education majors the fundamentals of stringed instruments. Voldman said he turned to his contacts throughout the world to recruit musicians from Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and other regions to help build the string program at Southeastern.
     “Since there were no strong string programs to speak of in our area, I knew that if I was going to recruit talented string performers I would have to look elsewhere,” he explained. “Southeastern could not compete with schools such as Julliard, the Eastman School of Music, Indiana University and others in recruiting the top talent within the United States. What we could do is recruit talented students who could not afford to go to those institutions but who wanted to come to the United States to study. And that led to the recruitment of other musicians, such as pianists and other instrumentalists, because of their friends who came to study strings.”
     Voldman finds teaching students with raw talent one of the most fulfilling aspects of his life in music. Teaching applied music, he said, is as much art and intuition as it is science.
     “An applied music instructor is like a coach in sports. He gives direction, but in the end it is the student’s own natural talent, drive and determination that produce results. Sometimes your role is to be demanding when the student is not giving it his or her best efforts. At other times, it’s important to comfort and reassure the student when he or she is clearly putting in the effort. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to every problem.”
     Voldman measures his success as a teacher by the success of his students. The majority of Southeastern’s string majors are able to find positions in professional orchestras before graduating.
“I feel the pride of a proud parent when I survey the achievements of my former students,” he said. “While they have achieved great things already, I know that some of them are destined for even greater successes I can’t wait to witness their achievements.”

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