Alisa Weilerstein and the New York Philharmonic on stage tonight

Alisa Weilerstein and the New York Philharmonic will hit the Shanghai stage this evening.

Tonight the New York Philharmonic will keep up its performance at the 2018 Music in the Summer Air at Shanghai Symphony Hall, together with American cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

The orchestra, conducted by Jaap van Zweden, will present Johan Wagenaar’s “Cyrano de Bergerac Overture” and Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” while Weilerstein will join them for Tchaikovsky’s “Variation on a Rococo Theme.”

“Variation on a Rococo Theme” is a piece in which Tchaikovsky tried to get away from the heavy language that Russian composers often used, according to Weilerstein.

“But he could not eliminate it completely. Generally, it is a delightful piece, but you will still find romantic and tragic melodies in some parts, especially in the third and sixth variations,” Weilerstein said. “It is really fun to play.”

Born into a musical family, with her parents being violinist Donald Weilerstein and pianist Vivian Hornik Weilersein, Alisa Weilersein started playing cello from the age of 4. She made her debut at age 13 with the Cleveland Orchestra, when the world first heard her interpretation of “Variation on a Rococo Theme.” She later gained the chance to collaborate with a series of top orchestras. 

Her interpretation of Elgar’s “Cello Concerto in E Minor” with Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim in 2011 brought her instant fame — many compared her version with that of cellist Jacqueline Mary du Pre.

“Jacqueline has been my favorite cellist since childhood — I used to listen to her record every day. Her interpretations of music are so convincing that I was afraid that I might unconsciously copy her if I kept listening that much. So, I forced myself to leave her record for quite a long time, yet still she is my favorite,” Weilerstein said. 

Regardless of her musical background, Weilerstein chose to study Russian history at Columbia University rather than a conservatory of music. According to her, after so many years with her musician parents and music classmates, she decided to spend some more time with people of a different field. 

“I love Russian culture, including its history, music and literature — Russian literature, in particular, helped me a lot in understanding Tchaikovsky and his works.”

Ti Gong

American cellist Alisa Weilerstein

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