As the spring of 2020 gives way to summer, the music we see online is evolving from the posts that musicians offered to give solace during the early days of a pandemic to innovative projects that allow artists to keep in touch, work together and continue performing, despite the cancellation of so many concerts. This week you'll hear three wonderful collaborations that demonstrate how non-profits are banding together — an approach, I believe, that might keep many organizations afloat during these turbulent financial times. And you’ll also hear ways musicians continue to raise their musical voices in solidarity.
As we move from solace videos to pragmatic videos, nonprofit organizations are reaching out to one another in a truly collaborative manner. In this stunning video, members of the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra and the Maritime Aquarium of Norwalk join forces for World Oceans Day. Led by Music Director Jonathan Yates on keyboard, enjoy "Aquarium" from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. (Don’t miss the glass harmonica and the jelly fish!)
If I had a nickel for every time I was teased about playing the violin when I was a little girl, I’d be a wealthy woman today. Oh, and those little boys asking if my case held a machine gun. (There were times I wished… anyway.) As I got older, being a violinist was simply accepted and the stigma of having my violin for an appendage subsided. How I wish, back in the day, there were über-cool violinists like Roberts Balanas that I could have pointed to as a role model. Here’s Roberts playing his wonderful arrangement of Elton John’s "I’m Still Standing." (Who needs a second violinist when your left-hand pizzicato is strong and you can accompany yourself just fine?)
What happens when you put the world’s kindest concert violinist in the same space with a first-rate teacher and the cutest six-year-old Suzuki student in the universe? Magic, that’s what! And that’s exactly what we got on the June 14 debut broadcast of GILharmonic on violinist.com with Gil Shaham and Laurie Niles. I simply can’t categorize the show as a master class, because it was so much more interesting than your average master class. Three talented violinists performed for the hosts: six-year-old Joanne Zhu (giggly, talented, tiny violinist), University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music student KayCee Galano (poised, mature, gifted young performer), and gypsy jazz violinist Jason Anick (brilliant creator of the J-Tude). If you missed the livestream, catch it here! (And please tune in Sundays at 11AM PT/2PM ET for the remainder of the summer on YouTube, Facebook, and violinist.com.)
Leave it to Northwestern University to bring together talents from its music and medical schools in an effort to "convey the importance of collaborative work between musicians and health care professionals." V.com contributor and Bienen School of Music violin professor Desirée Ruhstrat, Northwestern Medical Orchestra conductor Taichi Fukumura, and pianist and Assistant Professor of Neurology at Feinberg School of Medicine Borna Bonakdarpour join forces for the second movement of W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 20. (Professor Bonakdarpour states that music functions as psychological first aid. Well said!)
A collaboration between New York City Ballet dancers and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center resulted in this joyous performance of J.S. Bach’s Allegro from Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-Flat Major, BWV 1051. This mini-ballet is part of Lincoln Center’s #ConnectingForCulture, "an initiative to unite our community, reinforce the role the arts play in everyone’s lives, and galvanize support as we navigate the continued challenges ahead." (The choreography was created by the dancers: Tiler Peck, Troy Schumacher, Lauren Lovette, Ashley Boulder, and Peter Walker)
With social-distancing in place, we’re all struggling to figure out how to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other group events. Gunnery Sargent Sheng-Tsung Wang, Associate Concertmaster of the United States Marine Band Chamber Orchestra, wasn’t about to let one very important anniversary for violinists go unnoticed — the celebration of the 300th year since the writing of J.S. Bach’s monumental Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D minor. Sgt. Wang’s fellow section mates, including v.com contributor Peter Wilson, performed a virtual relay of the piece. (And it is stunning!)
In our continuing commitment to bring #TakeTwoKnees performances to our readers, here is violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins performing a heartbreaking trio (with her two other selves) of Samuel Barber’s Adagio. (I have profoundly appreciated all the #TakeTwoKnees performances I have heard to date, but this one I found particularly moving.)
With large-scale concerts and symphony performances almost universally on hiatus, we've put "The Week in Reviews" on hold and instead bring you this roundup of “summer of change" activities. If you’d like to share links of socially-distanced performances, teaching experiences, camps, or master classes you’ve enjoyed, please do so in the comments or e-mail me for possible inclusion in a later opus.
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