Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra performs in New Brunswick

Although retired since 2014, I still relish opportunities to teach, write, and share opinions.
The Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra performed an ambitious program at the State Theatre of New Jersey Sunday afternoon, March 17, 2024, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Dmitry Yablonsky, Conductor and Cello
MultiPiano Ensemble, and solo pianist Alon Kariv

Melody by Ukrainian composer, Myroslav Skoryk (1938-2020)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor

Performed by piano soloist Alon Kariv (First prize winner of the Young Artist Competition in Jerusalem).

    • Molto allegro con fuoco in G minor
    • Andante in E Major
    • Presto-Molto allegro e vivace in G Major

lgnaz Moscheles (1794-1870)
“Les Contrastes,” Grand Duo Op. 115 (for 2 pianos in 8 hands & orchestra), American Premiere

Performed by Multipiano Ensemble
Tomer Lev/Berenika Glixman/Nimrod Meiry-Haftel/Lior Lifshitz

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) & lgnaz Moscheles (1794-1870)
“Fantasie Brilliante & Variations” (for 2 pianos & orchestra), American Premiere

Performed by Multipiano Ensemble
Tomer Lev/Berenika Glixman

— lntermission —

Baruch Berliner (1942- )
“Jacob’s Dream” Cello Concerto, American Premiere

Performed by cello soloist Dmitry Yablonsky.

    1. lsaac’s Blessing
    2. Jacob’s Dream
    3. Cadenza (Prayer)
    4. Gate to Heaven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93

    1. Allegro vivace e con brio (F Major)
    2. Allegretto scherzando (Bb Major)
    3. Tempo di menuetto (F Major)
    4. Allegro vivace (F Major)
Now based in Italy due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra continues a busy schedule of performances in Europe and the United States. 
The State Theatre of New Jersey has the policy that no printed programs are available. One must visit their website for the program. The downside of this is that once the concert begins, all cell phones must be turned off, so an ambitious program such as this one suffers due to most of the audience not knowing what is being played. Thankfully, announcements were periodically made from the stage using a microphone to guide the audience through each piece. 
Today’s audience were especially keen to show their affection for this visiting ensemble by applauding during their entrance upon the stage. 
After the opening piece on the program, which was beautifully played, Alon Kriv, the piano soloist for the Mendelssohn concerto ran into some difficult stage business. The Theatre’s staff clearly had no experience with the workings of a piano. It wasn’t opened properly, so that the First Cello had to lend his hand to ensure the soloist’s safety. Once the soloist arrived, it was another hurdle for him, since he also checked to assure his instrument was ready, and had to leave the stage to secure his piano bench for the performance. Once these basics were accomplished, Mr. Kriv played the Mendelssohn beautifully, with sensitive and adroit accompaniment by the musicians under the direction of conductor Dmitry Yablonsky. 
Next was a stage announcement introducing the next presentations. Pianist Tomer Lev, a member of the MultiPiano Soloists, spoke to the audience. The four would play two pianos, eight hands in the piece by Moscheles, followed by a two-piano piece for two players by Mendelssohn. The two works were played with sparkling pianism and interpretive elan. 
After the interval, “Jacob’s Dream” Cello Concerto was played featuring the entire orchestra, First Cellist (uncredited) delivering the text in one of the four parts, and Conductor and Cello soloist Dmitry Yablonsky. Perhaps due to having no printed program, the enthusiastic audience applauded after two of the four movements until Mr. Yablonsky held up his two fingers to indicate no applause yet. The final movement displayed a rhythmic energy inspired by the legendary work of Lalo Schifrin, especially reminiscent of his theme for the television show Mission Impossible. Audience approval was overwhelming for the piece. The orchestra and cello soloist played beautifully. Mr. Yablonsky mentioned that Mr. Berliner was present, and sitting in the first row. The Composer took numerous bows to audience acclaim. 
Completing this generous program was an accomplished and nuanced performance of the rarely-heard Eighth Symphony by Beethoven. Such was audience enthusiasm (and unfamiliarity with the work), that applause greeted the conclusion of the first and second movements, prompting the conductor to hold up his fingers indicating that there were more movements to come. 
The Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Ensemble performed the Beethoven with energy, love, and nuanced phrasing. 
Audience acclaim was overwhelming, as the audience rose to its feet, applauding the performers. 
A Few Suggestions
“Where is she?” boomed the ticket scanner, followed by repeating it louder, until, blocking my entrance, shouted a third time, “WHERE IS SHE?” It seemed that the theatre official looked for a female companion to go with my second ticket. She would not allow me to enter, even with a valid ticket, until she was satisfied. Seeing that it was not a Noah’s Ark scenario, two-by-two of differing sexes, she just replied, “Huh.” and stepped away, allowing  passage to enter the theatre. Surely, such confrontational behavior should not be encouraged by management, since it was clearly unwarranted. 
A minor point, but when hundreds of men will be using the restroom, do have adequate toweling provisions. Dozens of men shaking off their hands with no paper towels available created a safety hazard with wet floors.
The State Theatre of New Jersey in New Brunswick presents a vibrant array of entertainment for months every year. Next on stage will be Adam Ant in concert, followed by Andres Cepeda, Randy Rainbow, and many, many more. for a full schedule and information, visit:

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