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Event Detail

Aiken Symphony Orchestra: Waarts Plays Mendelssohn

Date : March 25, 2017

Time : 7:30PM

Admission : Visit

Location : Etherredge Center

Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, op 64
Dvorak Symphony No. 8 in G major, op 88

Stephen Waarts, vioilin

Violinist Stephen Waarts has been praised for playing “with technical command and a totally natural sense of musical drama” (Strings Magazine). He has already garnered worldwide recognition, having captured both audience prizes and jury laureate prize in the Queen Elizabeth competition, First Prize, the Bach Prize and the Composer’s Prize at the 2014 Menuhin Competition, First Prize and six additional awards in the 2013 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Second Prize and the Audience Prize in the 2013 Montreal International Competition; and First Prize and romantic Concerto prize in the 2011 International Louis Spohr Competition for Young Violinists. On his prize winning performances in the recent Queen Elizabeth Competition Ariane Todes in Elbow Music commented “For me there was a clear winner (Waarts) in terms of sheer musicality, imagination, range, sensitivity, expression, humility, maturity and chamber musicianship.” And – Heather Kurtzbauer: “… most original musical voice among the finalists … A master of color, form and musical character, Waarts mesmerized the audience with cries and whispers… the king of subtlety and nuance…”, and Slipped Disk – Norman Lebrecht: “… (Waarts) brought the house down with his final Bartok performance and walked off unusually with both audience prizes, French and Flemish (there’s not much the two halves of Belgium can ever agree upon)”. Le Soir: “A musical prodigious UFO… unpredictable… ” La Libre: “…deeply artistic (of the extraterrestrial kind)… an outsized interpretation…” On previous award winning performances the Montreal Gazette commented: “there’s little point trying to wrap words around his talent…” Le Devoir Libre de Penser: “The winner of my heart…when he starts to play, something happens”. “On this night, I finally knew. I heard a few things (in Prokofiev Concerto No. 2) I hadn’t heard before…” “A shockingly mature, nuanced performance of Prokofiev’s second violin concerto…” La Scena Musicale: “…technical perfection and great beauty of tone… a presence on stage that commands attention… his playing soars over the orchestra…” Lapresse-Montreal : “He draws in a noble Brahms sound reminiscent Milstein and impresses a continuous thought, from beginning to end…” The UK’s Daily Telegraph: “…something special,… not just the mechanical wonder, but a soul.” And the Strad magazine: “from the first note… I was hooked, and within a few bars I was moved to tears… such an experience is rare… Although it is possible to analyze it (Waarts’ playing)… perhaps it is better not to try… truly poetic and sincere”.

Waarts 2014-2015 season began with a performance of Chausson’s Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Quartet at the French Classical Music Festival of Silicon Valley, and performances at the Orford – Canada and Lake George – NY Music Festivals. As Winner of the 2013 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, he made recital debuts this December at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and Merkin Concert Hall in NYC, to rave reviews, including on the Bartok Solo Sonata: “Mr. Waarts, playing commandingly from memory, balanced passages that evolve in the halting dance idiom of the chaconne with rhapsodic stretches that in this gripping account seemed somberly ruminative. He was comparably inspired in the resolute intricate fugue, the searching slow movement marked Melodia, and the frenetic finale.” (The New York Times) And: “…difficult music, … in a range of styles and impeccably rendered — Waarts showed an uncommon, preternatural sense of tonal color and lyrical beauty on the instrument.” (The Washington Post). His other performances this season include re-engagement concerts with San Francisco Chamber Orchestra on which it was written: “This was familiar music (Mendelssohn Concerto in E minor); but the execution had a freshness to it. This was a reading that seized attention from the opening notes and held it to the final cadence.” (San Francisco Examiner) and a recital at the Louvre-Paris which was filmed to be broadcasted on TV.

Acclaimed from a young age, Waarts has already performed over fourty standard, as well as rarely performed, violin concertos, appearing as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal and Austin Symphony, and also with orchestras in Russia, Germany, Norway and Spain as well as with numerous orchestras throughout California, such as the Redwood Symphony, the Prometheus Symphony Orchestra, the Silicon Valley Symphony, the Saratoga Symphony, and the Winchester Orchestra of San Jose. He has been a frequent participant of Summer Music Camps including Verbier Festival in Switzerland, the Perlman Music Program in New York and Florida, Music@Menlo in California and the Summit Music Festival in New York.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Waarts started his music education with Suzuki violin lessons with Krishnabai Lewis and continued it with violin lessons with Jenny Rudin and piano studies with Steve Lightburn. Since April 2005 he studied violin with Li Lin, with whom he is still collaborating, at the San Francisco Conservatory, and since June 2006 he also studied piano with Irina Sharogradski. Concurrently, since 2009, he has studied also with Alexander Barantschik, Concertmaster of San Francisco Symphony, and with Baroque violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock. After graduating from both high school and the San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory at age 14, he currently works with Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he is pursuing a bachelor of music and holds the Frank S. Bayley Annual Fellowship. In addition to his music studies, he is also an accomplished mathematician and has won several national math awards. Find more about Waarts at

[Pronunciation: Surname “Waarts” rhymes with “Hearts”]

Please note (effective Jan. 1, 2013): For all events (plays and concerts) sponsored by The Etherredge Center, students must pick up their ticket from the Etherredge Center Box Office by 5pm on the day of the performance. Students that purchase tickets after 5pm and just prior to the event itself will not be given ICE credit for the event.


The Etherredge Center
University of South Carolina Aiken
471 University Parkway
Aiken, SC 29801
P: (803) 641-3305

Office Hours

Monday – Thursday : 8:30 am – 6:00 pm

Friday : 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Saturday and Sunday : Closed

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