Arts

Atlanta Symphony Concertmaster Hopes To Find Own Voice In Little-Known Work

Lead violinist David Coucheron will perform a little-known work, by Russian composer and violinist Julius Conus, with the Atlanta Symphony this Thursday and Saturday evening in Symphony Hall. He spoke with "City Lights" host Lois Reitzes about the upcoming performance.
Lead violinist David Coucheron will perform a little-known work, by Russian composer and violinist Julius Conus, with the Atlanta Symphony this Thursday and Saturday evening in Symphony Hall. He spoke with "City Lights" host Lois Reitzes about the upcoming performance.
Credit Jeff Roffman

David Coucheron is normally sitting in the most important chair onstage with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra … as their lead violinist – the concertmaster. So it’s a special occasion when he steps into the spotlight, center stage. And because it isn’t often that symphonygoers see him in that role, his choice of music stands out.

Coucheron is getting ready to perform a little-known work: a violin concerto by Russian composer and violinist Julius Conus.

“Since I was a little kid, I grew up with the [violinist Jascha] Heifetz recording of the Conus,” Coucheron tells “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes. “I always really, really liked the piece. It’s not played much … almost never, actually.”

Conus immigrated to France following the Russian Revolution but fled the country in 1939 to escape the rise of Nazism. He returned to Moscow and died in 1942. Very little of his work survives today.

“When I listen to the Heifetz recording of this piece, I think, ‘Why bother playing this? No one can do it as good as this,'” Coucheron says. “So the challenge becomes — having that in my ears since I was a kid — how do I develop my own interpretation? Not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of owning what you’re playing. You have to digest it and figure out, ‘What is it that I can do that makes it mine?'”

David Coucheron performs the “Violin Concerto” by Julius Conus as part of an evening of Slavic Delight with the Atlanta Symphony this Thursday and Saturday in Symphony Hall.