When not reporting on the Supreme Court for NPR, Nina Totenberg has spent the last few months working with her two sisters to plan a memorial for her father, Roman. When he died in May at 101, the elder Totenberg was a legend in his own time: a violinist who had hung out with Stravinsky and Copland, a teacher (at Boston University and the Longy School of Music) who was still giving lessons in the final hours of his life.
On Saturday, Nina and her sisters Jill and Amy — who once celebrated their dad's 90th birthday by writing a rap song on the subject of his many female admirers ("Get in line, get in line") — will welcome the public to a memorial unlike any other, featuring an orchestra made up of former Totenberg students and collaborators, including Mira Wang, Jan Vogler, and Shizue Sano.
"Everything on the program is there for a reason," Nina said by phone from her office at NPR. Wang and Sano will perform a duet by Karol Szymanowski; the composer had been one of Totenberg's close friends. Other students will play part of Dvorák's "American" quartet, she said, because the Polish-born Totenberg "really loved America and it seemed right."
As for the Bach, which will be performed by the all-Totenberg-alumni orchestra: "We picked the happiest movement." She added, "We studiously avoided playing sad music, because we want this to be a celebration of his life."
Marsh Chapel at Boston University, 735 Comm Ave, Boston | October 13 :: 1:30 pm :: free :: romantotenberg.com
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