The Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Joseph  Striplin, who’s also a violinist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Joseph Striplin, who’s also a violinist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Photo provided by the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra

Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra to perform works by American, Finnish composers

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 6, 2019

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Fans of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra have seen Hong-Yi Mo performing with the violin section, but this weekend, he’ll have a chance to shine on his own.

Mo will be the featured soloist during the Grosse Pointe Symphony Orchestra’s winter concert at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10 at The War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Farms. He’ll be performing Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ violin concerto, one of two Sibelius works planned for the concert.

GPSO President William Hulsker said Mo “really nails” this tricky piece, which contains “all of this Scandinavian angst” and “can be a little mysterious, a little ethereal.”

“It’s one of the most difficult violin concertos in the repertoire,” Hulsker said.

Mo, who has been a member of the DSO since October 2008, started studying violin at age 4 and was enrolled in the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing at age 13. He made his solo debut with the DSO in 2014, and has also performed as a solo artist with the China National Youth Orchestra and the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra. Mo has performed at a number of chamber music concerts and festivals as well.

GPSO Conductor Joseph Striplin, who is also a DSO violinist, invited Mo to perform the Sibelius piece with him. Mo said this is the first time he’ll be playing this piece, and it’s a dream come true for him.

“I seriously want to thank Joe Striplin for giving me this chance,” he said. “I consider myself as lucky as winning the lottery.”

In addition to the concerto — which Striplin said is “very dramatic” — audiences will also hear Sibelius’ “Andante Festivo.” Striplin, who programed the concert, sandwiches the two Sibelius works in between two works by the American composer Aaron Copland: “Fanfare for the Common Man” and the “Billy the Kid” ballet suite.

“I think it’s an effective combination,” Striplin said. “(Audience members) get to hear the brass section play alone. They get to hear the string section play. It’s interesting contrasts. The program flows nicely that way.”

“Fanfare” is “a very showy piece” with boldness tempered by nobility that showcases the brass instruments, Hulsker said. The “Billy the Kid” piece depicts scenes in the life of the legendary American outlaw and sets a waltz rhythm against a 2/4 time signature.

“You have two conflicting rhythms here,” Hulsker said. “It’s just a big mashup. It’s fun.”

Those interested in learning more about the program are invited to attend a pre-concert talk by Charles Greenwell, which will start at 6:45 p.m.

“I think the audience will really enjoy it,” Striplin said of the concert.

Tickets cost $20 per person, $15 for seniors and they are free to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. They can be purchased at the door or in advance via the GPSO’s website, For more information, visit the website or call (313) 640-1773.