Violinist Steven Moeckel will rejoin the Tucson Symphony Orchestra this weekend for the first time since he moved to Phoenix in 2008.

We caught up with the TSO’s former concertmaster last week and came up with a few reasons why you won’t want to miss this concert.

  • Moeckel takes on John Corigliano’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, best known as “The Red Violin”:
  • Corigliano is Moeckel’s favorite living composer and this piece resonates with the 36-year-old violinist. This will be the second time Moeckel has ever performed the work; his first in 2011 was with the Phoenix Symphony, where he is the concertmaster. This is the first time that the TSO will perform the concerto, born of Corigliano’s score for the 1998 film “The Red Violin.”

“The second, third and fourth movements are pure Corigliano. The scherzo is wispy and crazy with all these harmonics. It kind of puts you in a different world and it will remind you of the film even though none of it was used in the movie,” Moeckel said.

“The slow movement duet with alto flute is just stunningly beautiful and it’s never been done. It’s a new type of technique, but it is so compelling. In the final movement he brings back elements from the film, some melodies we haven’t heard. But he writes this ridiculous movement that puts the soloist and the orchestra against each other. The soloist is accelerating at different speeds than the orchestra and the orchestra is pushing the soloist.

“It is one of those pieces that takes a lot of very gritty work to get it memorized and to get all the rhythmic aspects to work. And, technically, it’s quite difficult.”

  • Moeckel is reunited with TSO Conductor George Hanson
  • : “This is a piece that’s unique in that the soloist and the conductor — I really need a conductor for this piece. I can’t do whatever I want otherwise it will fall apart. I’m really glad I’m doing it with George, who I know so well and he knows me so well. We can sit down and figure it out. When you are playing it on stage, it is extraordinarily exciting. It’s very fast and very flashy. It is really truly a great American violin concerto.”
  • Coming home
  • : “I’m really honored that people still remember me. It’s so bizarre to kind of see how the years just go by and to come back to a place and feel like it was just yesterday. … Tucson will always have that place in my heart. It was such a marvelous, marvelous environment to grow as a musician.”
  • Don’t be surprised if you see Moeckel at his favorite Tucson haunts:
  • “I like to hang out at Coffee Xchange across from Bookman’s (at North Campbell Avenue and East Grant Road). And I’ll stop by Casa Vicente. I love that restaurant. And I’ll be down on Fourth Avenue.”

Contact Cathalena E. Burch at or 573-4642.

I cover music for the Arizona Daily Star.