by Jarrett Hoffman
Local listeners might know that CityMusic Cleveland’s music director, Avner Dorman, is also a composer. His separate but related talents of the baton and of the pen will be on display when he leads the orchestra in the world premiere of Still, his third violin concerto, in five free concerts from March 13-17.
The soloist is a familiar face. Sayaka Shoji — first prize winner at the 1999 Paganini Competition — has in recent years joined CityMusic for the Brahms and Tchaikovsky concertos.
We last spoke to her in 2015 in a wide-ranging conversation that touched on her Japanese, Italian, and German upbringing (she now lives in Paris), her interest in jazz, the beginning of her solo career, her early dream of singing opera, and her previous work with Dorman — including commissioning a violin sonata from him.
I caught up with Shoji over email, and began by asking about the first time she heard Dorman’s music — in Verbier, Switzerland, where they met.