Unlike many violists, Atlanta native Jennifer Stumm has never been—nor does she ever intend to be—a violinist. Yes, it’s unusual to make a solo career playing the viola, that darker-hued string instrument that looks like a large violin, but Stumm is out to show that despite being less acrobatic and brilliant than the more popular violin, the viola has a more complex and richer, deeper sound and can perform as another shade in the spectrum. Stumm has made a hobby out of seeking out unusual viola repertoire in old, dusty European libraries that is no longer being performed, such as works by Alessandra Rolla, Paganini’s teacher and the first bona fide viola virtuoso who wrote a wealth of pieces that Stumm has been rediscovering and performing. Stumm was the recipient of the First Prize in the 2006 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. Recognized for her “unique musical voice and commanding stage presence,” she is the first solo violist in the nearly sixty-year history of the CAG Competition to achieve this honor. She also won the William Primrose Viola Competition and the Vriendenkrans Concours of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, both in 2005. Stumm’s appearance on the Ravinia “Rising Stars” series is a homecoming of sorts given that Stumm spent two summers, 1998 and 1999, as the youngest participant accepted into Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists. Stumm’s recital with pianist Elizabeth Pridgen will include music of Enescu, Schumann, Brahms, Prokofiev and Lyric Opera’s first and only composer-in-residence, Bright Sheng. (Dennis Polkow)
Friday, April 18 at Ravinia Festival’s Bennett-Gordon Hall, Green Bay and Lake-Cook Roads, Highland Park, (847)266-5100. 8pm. $20.