- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Judith Ingolfsson speaks softly. The 25-year-old Iceland native, who performs tomorrow at the Kennedy Center, prefers to let the violin do the talking.

"I become the music," she says, adding that it's "kind of getting into its soul."

"A piece of music is like a journey. It's like telling a story, and as a performer, you are a narrator of that story. In order to narrate it, you have to experience it and become the music."

The 1998 winner of the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Miss Ingolfsson is performing with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra on a 15-city North American tour to celebrate the millennium of Leif Ericson's journey to North America.

The Reykjavik native's interest in the violin began when she was a young child.

"I'm told that I loved to listen to Bach's Brandenburg Concerto," she says. "My mother was a pianist, so most of the music I listened to was piano music. When my parents took me to the symphony, I would sit in the audience, looking at the strings."

At age 3, Miss Ingolfsson began studying with the concertmaster of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Jon Sen. She went on to study at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music with Jascha Brodsky, who, she says, "laid the foundation for my technique and gave me a very fundamental view of violin playing."

She also studied with David Cerone and Donald Weilerstein of the Cleveland Institute of Music. She made her solo orchestral debut in Germany at age 8, and she has played at Carnegie Hall three times.

"There is a stunning poetry in her playing," says Iceland Symphony conductor Rico Saccani. "Very individualistic, and you're not even aware of the technical demands."

For her Kennedy Center date, Miss Ingolfsson will perform Aram Khachaturian's Violin Concerto. The Iceland orchestra also will perform the tour premiere of Atli Heimir Sveinsson's "Icerap 2000" and Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Opus 39.

Mr. Saccani first heard the Khachaturian piece when Jean-Pierre Rampal played it on the flute at the Hollywood Bowl in the 1970s.

"I was just seduced by it," says the Tucson, Ariz., native, "especially the second and third movements. If you can't respond to the last two movements on hearing it for the first time, something's really wrong."

He is heartened by Miss Ingolfsson's enthusiasm for the piece. He says there is a group of young female violinists who are not afraid of the piece, which violinists seem to have avoided because of its technical difficulty.

"Look at the number of notes in the cadenza alone in the first movement, and that will probably have most of them closing the score to begin with right there," he says, laughing. "You look at all the black dots, and it's unbelievable."

Miss Ingolfsson acknowledges that the 35-minute piece is a little on the long side, but it's also "a flashy, fun piece, and audiences love it."

"It's a very beautiful piece with a lot of epic material, much like Rimsky-Korsakov," Miss Ingolfsson says. "It's very romantic with a lot of lyrical, gypsylike passages."

WHAT: Iceland Symphony Orchestra

WHERE: Kennedy Center Concert Hall

WHEN: 8:30 p.m. tomorrow

TICKETS: $20 to $45

PHONE: 202/467-4600

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