Thursday, August 31, 2023

Rome Vivaldi concert rockets to top of reviewer's lifetime concert list

Elvin Dhimitri turns a page on a score, backed by one of two second violinists, partly hidden at left,
with his violist near mirror, and cellist, seated at right.  Each of six musicians participated in a stunning concert.




The second violinists enter the stage for an encore.

MUSIC CHANGED my life when I was a three year old, watching spellbound as the great Jascha Heifetz play Paganini.  I was mesmerized. I wanted to play the violin. And did, although piano is my main instrument.

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie"
Meyers arrive for the concert.
Music continues to enhance and guide my life.  It has taken me to concert halls, jazz clubs, orchestra pits and dressing rooms.  It has opened doors, introduced me to fellow musicians and music lovers around the world.  Music has made friends on ships, trains and even airplanes, when I played a keyboard long ago on the topside cocktail lounge of a glorious Boeing 747. The first-class cabin sang show tunes all the way from Los Angeles to New York.
The soloist, Elvin Dhimitri, and Cookie after
the concert. Both all smiles, a wonderful night
following a terrific day tour with GetYourGuide.

A RECENT NIGHT TO remember rocketed to the top of my "most memorable" concert list.  It shines next to Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga's Radio City Music Hall farewell. The concert featured brilliant violinist Elvin Dhimitri, considered by many as one of Italy's finest living violinists.
Bruce Keller secretly purchased a pair of tickets to Dhimitri's "Le Quattro Stagioni," better known to the English speaking world as "The Four Seasons," Vivaldi's masterpiece. The famous concertos composed in 1723, are the world's most popular pieces of Baroque music and broke ground with their lyrical depiction of the changing seasons.
"Keller and Cookie" peak out from behind a poster advertising
the Vivaldi concert.  It will run through mid-December,
so if you're in Rome, don't miss it. Opera E Lirica sponsors.

The pieces are famous for their flourish and technical innovations. Dhimitri's dazzling technique brought the works to a mesmerized house on a hot late-August evening. His immaculately honed technique and unflappable stage presence transported the audience into a dream world. As a fellow concert goer said, "He played as if possessed by a holy spirit, a musical genius under a spell."
A PERFECT RAPPORT with his gifted players was sustained in frequent eye contact. His ensemble includes two second violins, a violist, cellist and harpsichord so we had the pleasure of hearing six superbly talented musicians.
THE DAY Tour walk with GetYourGuide was terrific -- amiable guide, knowledgeable and fun to point out new things about places we'd been before.
THEN THE  EVENING was charmed from beginning to end.  Keller and I took a taxi from our hotel to the venue, stopping for a glass of wine for me, a beer for Keller, at the Sala Verdi concert hall, inside the gracious Hotel Quirinale, a treasure of its own built in 1865 near the Piazza Venezia. It's in the heart of Roma, five minutes from the Colosseum and just a bit farther to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.
WE HAD hoped to hear the concert in Church of San Francesco Caravita but temperatures of near 100 degrees forced moving it to the cooler hotel concert hall, with its equally fine acoustics and plenty of history to entertain concert goers before the show began.  

Violinist Jascha Heifetz
performed at Fox Theatre
in the early 1950s when
Cookie was a little girl.

We in the audience were from all over the globe: India, Japan, France, Germany, Norway, Australia, greeted by a lovely Eliana, who scanned our tickets and had an assistant guide us to our second-row seats. 
I could feel the presence of my grandmother, a fine pianist and
A lifelong love of music began at birth -- or
likely before -- for Cookie, whose musical
mother and grandmother greatly influence her.

accompanist, and my mother, who also played piano and was an accomplished violinist.  She and another old friend, Eloise Kirk, played fiddle in the Montana State University Orchestra in Bozeman. Each was  pregnant with their first child -- Eloise had her son John and my mother had me.
THE EVENING was too brief. There were three sets of gracious applause-filled bows, followed by exits.  Then Dhimitri appeared again to cheers, and ushered his ensemble back on stage. After a generous encore  -- more Vivaldi, a precisely rendered section of "The Four Seasons" -- the musicians took a final bow and exited.
A beautiful harpsichord was
much photographed after
the standing-ovation crowd.
By good fortune, we were able to catch up to Dhimitri for a brief chat after his exhausting performance. 
He was gracious and accommodating, put his violin case down to pose for photos and answer a couple questions. He believes in daily practice, like Heifetz, and off stage showed himself to be a gentleman of elegance, discipline and gracious demeanor.
The audience would have enjoyed another 90 minutes, but the maestro and his five faithful and equally gifted players, are doing several shows a week through mid December. So the evening sadly ended.
Tickets are reasonably priced for this masterful program, from 15 Euros to 50 Euros.
If you're in Rome and have the Roma pass, ask for the "Roma Pass" discount.
If you're in Europe, call +39 338 12 18 424.
For a fun, reasonably priced tour in many cities worldwide: 

The rocky seashore of Madeira is only one of its charms.
The beautiful Portuguese island has been popular with
Europeans and sun-seekers from Britain for decades. 

NEXT UP: Madeira. It sounds lovely and it is. Long a favorite of visitors from the UK, this Portuguese island is now popular with tourists from all over the world. This gorgeous island is located in the Atlantic Ocean, 1,000 kilometers from the Portuguese mainland. The picturesque island is part of the Madeira Islands group. Besides the wine for which it is famous, it offers beach activities, beautiful hotels and restaurants, historic monuments, and fabulous botanical gardens.  Come along with us, remembering to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, the arts, nature, family and more.


  1. Seattle string playersSeptember 2, 2023 at 5:36 AM

    Oh my, lucky you!

  2. Such fun to armchair travel with you two explorers.

  3. We have heard many Vivaldi concerts and never fail to enjoy. Thanks for this fun piece.