Violinist feels right at home with Hartford Symphony

By MIKE CHAIKEN

EDITIONS EDITOR

For Connecticut native Sirena Huang, this weekend’s performances with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra is a homecoming.

The violinist served as artist-in-residence with the symphony from 2011 to 2014. And since that time, she has returned a few times to be a guest musician with the orchestra.

“I’m very excited to have played with Hartford Symphony four times,” said Sirena, “There are so many inspiring musicians.”

Sirena, who started playing the violin at age 4, said, “I’ve been very, very lucky to have played with Hartford Symphony Orchestra at 12 and 13 and after, I was lucky to be artist-in-residence.”

“The first time I performed with them was four nights back to back,” said the now 22-year-old Sirena. “It was a huge learning experience. And a positive one.”

As someone who grew up in Connecticut, Sirena said it means a lot to perform in the Nutmeg State.

And to play with HSO also meant a lot, she said, since HSO was the first symphony she ever saw in concert

When she was young, Sirena said she felt it “would be a dream come true to play with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra some day.”

For her latest performance with HSO, Sirena will be joining electric guitarist Steven Mackey on Mackey’s composition, “Four Iconoclastic Episodes.”

“This is my first time performing something that’s not a mainstream classical piece,” said Sirena. “I’ve also never performed with an electric guitar.”

“I liked it,” said Sirena of Mackey’s composition. “When it was proposed, it was very exciting… It has broadened my horizons and perspective on what violin music can be.”

The composer Mackey has a different kind of sound, said Sirena. “It’s very unique.”

Audiences will enjoy the piece, said Sirena, because Mackey’s electric guitar “brings a rock and roll feel to the music.” The mixture of the guitar and violin also provides an edgy quality to the music, said Sirena.

“It’s awesome to listen to,” said Sirena.

Sirena started playing violin at age 4 and performed with the Taiwan Symphony Orchestra at age 9.

“I know that playing the violin for so many years as a musician I’ve grown (as a musician) and I’ve grown as a person,” said Sirena.

“When you’re young, I was worried about technique,” said Sirena. “Later, music became my voice, my own personal language, and my own way of communicating, my way of sharing.”

The HSO performance is called “Merry Mozart.” And the symphony will be performing the overture to Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.”

Like most classical musicians, Sirena is a fan of Mozart. She also likes the juxtaposition of compositions for this performance with the HSO.

“I love how the program opens with Mozart followed by the piece by Mackey,” said Sirena.

“Mozart was a big influence on so many composers,” said Sirena. The piece by Mackey may not seem as if there is a touch of Mozart, but she said there definitely is.

Personally, said Sirena, with Mozart’s compositions, “I find a sense of simplicity and purity that you don’t find in a lot of other composers.”

And that sense of simplicity and purity, she said, is reflected in Mackey’s piece.

(The third piece of the evning will be Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen, Op.20 “Gypsy Airs.”)

Beyond the HSO performances, Sirena will have performances at Carnegie Hall. But, said Sirena, “No matter where I play, Hartford Symphony Orchestra holds a place in my heart.”

Hartford Symphony Orchestra performs “Merry Mozart” from Friday to Sunday, Dec. 9 to 11 at the Belding Theater at The Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets starting at $38; $10 for students with ID. For tickets, call (860)987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org

Sirena Huang performs with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra this weekend.