"I had a message on my telephone answering machine that there was an emergency," which is how violinist Jody Gatwood said he came to learn, rehearse and then, on Saturday, to perform Jan Kubelik's Violin Concerto No. 4 with the Georgetown Symphony Orchestra at Gaston Hall. The "emergency" occurred on Wednesday, which gave Gatwood about 72 hours to pull off his artistic triumph.
Czech violinist Eugen Prokop, a performer with an international reputation, had been engaged last May as soloist for this performance. The program noted that he was "indisposed." This is true. Prokop, as it turned out, was not disposed to play this particular piece with this particular orchestra.
According to conductor John Welsh, Prokop requested tempos at rehearsal that were considerably slower than those indicated by the composer. "The music just didn't make sense at that speed," Welsh said. Prokop also complained that he had received the score too late to prepare it adequately, Welsh said. He was surprised and distressed to learn that the Georgetown Symphony was not a professional orchestra, Prokop reportedly said. Finally, he withdrew, precipitating the emergency that Welsh and Gatwood resolved so splendidly.
Neither Prokop nor his American management, M. Bichurin Concerts Corp., could be reached for comment yesterday.
Gatwood, who teaches and performs extensive in the area, handled the complicated score with enormous common sense. He met the considerable technical challenges first, and these in hand, allowed himself some expansiveness. He took no chances, however, opting for lyricism and accuracy over a full measure of Slavic passion. It worked beautifully, and the bravos from both audience and orchestra were well desrved.