For as long as Judith Ingolfsson can remember, music has been the fabric of her life. And this coming weekend, she will continue to weave her way through her passion during two performances with the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra.
"Music communicates so universally, much more so than words. It is just so incredibly powerful and direct," said the Berlin-based violinist. "If one has the gift ... it is really something amazing to do as a profession."
Ingolfsson is expected to join the orchestra for Alban Berg's "Violin Concerto" and Saint-Saëns' "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso," on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18, at Greenwich High School. The program also will feature Rimsky-Korsakov's "Le Coq d'or" and Debussy's "Images."
This is not the first time Ingolfsson has been featured as a soloist with the group. In 2000, she performed Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto" and returned in 2005 for Mozart's "Violin Concerto No. 5."
As for the Berg piece, Ingolfsson said it is an interesting composition for several reasons, not the least of which is its incorporation of the 12-tone technique. Such a practice calls upon a composer to establish a set, or series of 12 pitches, that forms the core of the work. It also was Berg's last-completed work before his death in 1935.
Although it originated from a commission by violinist Louis Krasner, Berg was spurred to complete the piece (he was simultaneously attempting to finish his opera "Lulu") as a tribute to the 18-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler, the widow of Gustav Mahler, and architect Walter Gropius, who died in 1935 of polio.
"I think he was quite successful in making this an enormously emotional experience," Ingolfsson said. "And, actually, it's not all about sadness and death. There is quite a bit of humor in it and charm."
Ingolfsson first began playing the violin at age 3, while growing up in Reykjavik, Iceland, where she was born. She and her three sisters were raised in a musical household, she said, with a mother who was a pianist and a mathematician father, who also had studied piano.
"My mother told me that I used to sing songs when I was 10 months old. But I didn't quite believe her," Ingolfsson said, laughing. "But I have a son, whose 20 months now, and he started singing songs when he was 10 months old."
Ingolfsson is married to pianist Vladimir Stoupel, with whom she performs as part of the aptly-named Ingolfsson-Stoupel Duo, which the couple founded in 2006.
Ingolfsson early on made a splash with her talents, appearing on Icelandic State Television at 5, and, three years later, in 1980, she performed as a soloist with the Iceland Symphony for Icelandic State Radio. That same year, her family moved to the United States.
By 14, she had entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and eventually earned her master's degree and artist's diploma from the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 1998, she gained international attention by winning the gold medal in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
Ingolfsson has played with more than 100 orchestras throughout the United States and abroad. She also has performed recitals and collaborated with many chamber ensembles. Through it all, Ingolfsson said she remains fascinated by the instrument that drew her as a young child, and loves the ability to serve as a conduit for the music.
"Our job is to bring the music to life, to make the listening experience one that people can relate to," she said. "That is why the listening experience is distinctly different from performing.
"It is coming through us to you," she said. "That's what makes it so exciting."
firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-964-2241; http://twitter.com/xtinahennessy/