Aaron Rosand kicks off Sunday Afternoons of Music

Violinist Aaron Rosand took the stage at the University of Miami’s Maurice Gusman Concert Hall last month with a confident gait and an air of sophistication. Spectators had no clue the 80-year-old opened the 27 annual Sunday Afternoons of Music series with titanium rods in his back, as Rosand paid little heed to the lone chair beside him during the Sept. 16 concert.

The audience perked up to the sudden staccatos, and sat back in their seats by the soothing legatos .

Periodically, Rosand exchanged glances with his accompanist and former pupil, Robert Koenig, as if they spoke a common musical language.

“You can’t just fill the whole program with Beethoven and Brahms,” Rosand later said. “To me, it’s like having a meal with just meat and potatoes. No dessert.”

After intermission, his play sheet included a savory Jamaican Rumba, composed by Arthur Benjamin/modified by William Primrose, and he ended the program with Jeno Hubay’s “Heure Kati”. “Here’s one you haven’t heard in 100 years,” he told the crowd. “I played it when I was eight, and I’m still learning how to play it.”

Collaborating with university-based Festival Miami, Sunday Afternoons of Music will run through June 2008 and include performances by cellists Yehuda Hanani and Matt Haimovitz, opera singer Ben Heppner, and the world-renowned Julliard String Quartet. Executive Director Doreen Marx recalls the series’ modest beginnings as a “$500 kitty”, and has watched it burgeon into a platform for the arts, music and theatre. Marx felt especially pleased when Rosand agreed to premiere this year’s season.

She calls him “just a regular guy, a nice man, and his personality comes through in his playing.

“They don’t make them like [Rosand] anymore,” she said.

Rosand was born in Hammond, Indiana on Mar. 15, 1927, on the brink of the Great Depression. His Russian mother was a pianist and his Polish father was a cabaret entertainer.