Puerto Rican violinist also composes, conducts, teaches viola in Canada


May 21, 1993|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

Christian Colberg, a 24-year-old native of Puerto Rico and former concertmaster and principal violist of the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore, has been engaged as the new concertmaster of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.

A composer and conductor as well as a string player, Mr. Colberg was an assistant to his Peabody violin teacher, Shirley Givens, for the last five years.

This summer, he will join the faculty of the Johannesen School of Arts in Victoria, Canada, as professor of viola.

"Christian is an exceptional violinist, and I have full confidence that he will be a first-rate leader," said ASO Conductor Gisele Ben-Dor of his appointment.

The concertmaster is the orchestra's "most valuable player." He is the leader of the string section, the orchestra's largest subdivision, and is frequently called on to offer technical help to his colleagues.

The concertmaster also is the orchestra's resident soloist -- a virtuoso capable of performing the many solo passages that dot the literature, and the occasional concerto with the orchestra.

In many orchestras, the concertmaster supplements this profound musical presence by acting as a sort of ombudsman between the players and their conductor.

It is a demanding position, and Christian Colberg is looking forward to filling it.

"I'm eager to get down there," he said. "I don't know how the orchestra runs just yet, but I definitely intend to help guide the Annapolis Symphony. I know I will expect the best from the string section and will lead it the best I can."

These are exciting days for the young violinist. He recently secured New York City management and is awaiting the solo engagements that should follow.

He is armed with the concertos of Bartok, Telemann, Stamitz and others.

"I need these concerts to pay off my school loans," he said, laughing. "Getting rid of these debts is my No. 1 concern."

Annapolis Symphony enthusiasts should be particularly excited by Shirley Givens' appraisal of her student's artistic gifts.

"He's a fantastic player who plays with a vibrant, shimmering tone," said the noted teacher, who also guides the careers of young fiddlers at the Juilliard School. "Christian is a wonderful all-around musician who's one of that rare breed of people who just go right to the heart. He gets to you."

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