Music and math come naturally to Cerovsek

November 05, 1997|By Judith Green | Judith Green,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Corey Cerovsek, who will solo with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra today, is trying to remember when he last played a certain violin concerto.

Was it last year or the year before that? "I can't calculate," he says.

Later, describing his concert schedule, he says: "It's a statistical fluke, but I have a half-dozen Paganini engagements this season."

Violinists normally don't talk like that. But Cerovsek, 25, has fTC mathematical credentials the equal of his musical ones. Though he spent his childhood avoiding words like "genius" and "prodigy," he is both.

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, he graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music at the University of Toronto with a gold medal at the age of 12, then enrolled at Indiana University to study with Josef Gingold, one of the world's finest violin teachers.

He received his bachelor's degree in music and mathematics at 15 and master's degrees in both at 16. He completed the course work for two doctorates at 18. Then his musical career took off, and both doctoral dissertations are on hold.

Notes and numbers come naturally to Cerovsek. (The name, pronounced tcher-OFF-sek, is Slovakian or Slovenian -- no one in the family is sure which.) His mother, Sophie, is a singer; his father, Helmut, a structural engineer.

"It lines up so clearly," says the violinist by telephone from Bloomington, Ind. "My mother is a spontaneous person, and it was from her that we [his sister Katja, a pianist, and himself] got the impetus for music lessons. Dad's deaf in one ear and also tone-deaf. They have complementary personalities."

Some music requires logic and analysis, but the work he'll play in Baltimore asks him to display the emotional side of his reversible jacket. Cerovsek is playing the second concerto of Niccolo Paganini, the 19th-century Italian violin virtuoso with the demonic technique. The concerto is half flash, half sentiment.

"It's a little bit saucy, a little bit cheesy," says Cerovsek. When he realizes he's just described a pasta dish, he laughs. "Well, it reminds me of the stereotyped Italian: the guy who walks around his kitchen, a little overweight, singing."

What it's doing on the BCO program -- a salute to British music, in honor of the exhibit from the Victoria and Albert Museum at the Museum of Art -- is anyone's guess. When Cerovsek was told the theme, he said: "What?!"

The concert includes a fanfare by Jean-Francois Mouret that will be instantly familiar as the theme music of "Masterpiece Theater"; the "English Folk Song Suite" by Benjamin Britten; and "Lady Radnor's Suite" by Sir Hubert Parry (the 19th-century British composer who wrote "Chariots of Fire").

"Oh, well," Cerovsek said. "Audiences get a huge kick out of Paganini. If this is English, I guess it's Monty Python."

BCO concert

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, Towson

Tickets: $21; $16 students and seniors; $8 children

Call: 410-998-1022

Pub Date: 11/05/97

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