Selecting the Mendelssohn, in addition, gave Palma an opportunity to invite violinist Robyn Bollinger to play the concerto’s solo part with the symphony.
“She’s a phenomenal player,” Palma said. “I’ve heard her play numerous times over the years, and she’s a delight to work with.”
Bollinger, a 21-year-old senior at New England Conservatory of Music, played one of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” in Symphony by the Sea’s family concert two years ago.
She started studying violin the week before she turned 4 and first played the Mendelssohn concerto when she was 10.
“It’s usually one of the first major concertos that someone will learn,” she said. “It’s hard. It’s not the hardest technically, but it is because everything is so exposed, everything is so clear.
“The violinist is always present, and heard. It’s clear and clean and pristine, and available to the audience. That’s what’s so hard about it.”
A concerto features a soloist with an orchestra and is usually not as long as a symphony, which orchestras play without solo accompaniment, Bollinger said.
“This concerto is unique and really changed concerti from this time on,” she said. “Usually, up until this point in music history, there’s always a big section at the beginning where the orchestra introduces the main themes of the piece. Mendelssohn doesn’t do that.
“The second thing about it is, up to this point, normally, a concerto has three movements with a pause in between. He wrote it as one continuous piece. There are three sorts of movements — fast, slow, fast — but there’s no break. It works seamlessly.”
In terms of style, Mendelssohn’s music combines “the lightness and classicism of someone like Mozart, but it also has more of the angst and romanticism and freedom of expression of Brahms and others,” she said. “He bridges those two sound worlds.”