Violinist performs in festival’s preview concert

VIOLINIST Gabriel Anker will pair Tchaikovsky’s concerto with a work by Bach as part of a preview performance Feb. 16 for the upcoming Coyote Creek Music Festival. Submitted photo

The perfect music for a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend is, in the opinion of violinist Gabriel Anker, Tchaikovsky’s Concerto in D Major.

“For me, personally, no other piece for the violin represents love more purely,” said Anker, who will perform the concerto on Feb. 16 as the third preview concert for the upcoming Coyote Creek Music Festival.

The concerto was written by the Russian composer in 1878 in Switzerland as he struggled out of a depression after the end of his marriage. Scholars speculate that Tchaikovsky’s student, violinist Iosif Kotek, was a love interest of the composer, but that potential gossip about their relationship kept Tchaikovsky from dedicating the concerto to him.

Anker began working on the concerto after participating in last year’s NorCal Music Festival. A native of Puerto Rico, he was raised in Houston and earned his undergraduate degree in violin performance at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He’s finishing his master’s degree at the University of Southern California.

“The Tchaikovsky concerto is pretty much synonymous with the violin,” Anker said. “I’ve been hearing it forever. It’s a piece that is pretty much required reading for everyone. It’s notoriously challenging but covers the full scope of the instrument.”

Anker, who will perform with pianist Elene Kartvelishvili, will pair the Tchaikovsky concerto with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita for Violin No. 1, written in 1790.

“I love performing Bach in general,” Anker said. “I find it’s music that changes the room instantly. This particular piece, well, solo Bach in general, I feel is a place where string musicians go for self-discovery.”

The partita, one of a set of six sonatas and partitas written for solo violin, is “maybe the most virtuosic of the six,” said Anker, because each of its four movements is followed by a variation, called a double.

“It’s constantly varying itself, even though it’s in the same key,” he said. “I feel like it works in contrast with the Tchaikovsky, practically speaking because it’s solo violin versus violin and orchestra, and metaphorically speaking, finding oneself and finding love, perhaps.”

The Feb. 16 concert is the third of six concerts to preview the Coyote Creek Music Festival, which will take place June 12-21 at Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill. Upcoming concerts in the series are Quintet Latino on March 14; soprano Heather Faulhaber with pianist Kyle Jones on April 26 and a string quartet with Anker, Kymber Gillen, violin, Kate Brown, viola, and Evan Kahn, cello, on May 31.

Gabriel Anker, violin, and Elene Kartvelishvili, piano, will perform at 5:30pm Feb. 16 at Advent Lutheran Church, 16875 Murphy Ave., Morgan Hill. Free; donations accepted. For information, visit

Susan Rife
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About Susan Rife
Lover of arts & books; ukulele learner; therapeutic knitter; long-distance runner. Former Arts and Books Editor at Herald-Tribune.