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James Garlick takes on the “Red Violin” at Tacoma Art Museum

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Nov. 30, 2009 at 10:13 am with No Comments »
November 30, 2009 10:13 am


Remember “The Red Violin?” That lusciously colored, lovingly-made instrument that (supposedly) wreaked death and evil in the lives of everyone who played it? Well, James Garlick doesn’t have one. Instead, the associate concertmaster of the Northwest Sinfonietta will play its music on his own violin at the Tacoma Art Museum this Saturday at 7:30 p.m., proving once and for all that you can play a terrific instrument and still be a nice person (and alive.)

For those who don’t remember the 1997 film, “The Red Violin” followed the course of an apparently magical instrument made in 1681, whose owners throughout the centuries (and continents) suffered tragedy upon tragedy. The score by Pulitzer-winning American  composer John Corigliano won an Oscar, and it’s highly popular.

So no wonder the Sinfonietta is marketing their first TAM concert around it. (Subsequent concerts in the series play on the theme: the Golden Trumpet, the Silver Flute.) The program includes Corigliano’s music, obviously, but also other solo works like Bach’s Partita no. 2 in d minor and Bartok’s Solo Sonata. Then there are two sonatas with piano by Debussy and Charles Ives.

Says Garlick: “I wanted to pair standard masterpieces of the violin
repertory (Bach and Debussy) with pieces audiences are less likely to know.
The Bach is perhaps my all-time favorite piece; the Bartok is… arguably the most difficult piece in the violin
repertoire.The Ives sonatas are fantastic pieces
that are not performed enough. They are full of character, humor and stunning
transcendental moments, and are distinctly American. Audience members
might even get the chance to sing through one of the hymns quoted in the
sonata. Finally, Corigliano’s “Red Violin”
Caprices…will serve as a nice
compliment to the Bach and Bartok, and help demonstrate how the violin
tradition has been influenced over time.”

Of course, Garlick doesn’t own a violin that kills people or makes them madly evil. It’s a a Justin Derazey French violin made around 1890. But it’s not red. “You could call it reddish-brown,” says Garlick. 

Part of the Northwest Sinfonietta’s “Music Off the Walls” series, “The Red Violin” is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Tacoma Art Museum, 1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma. Tickets $19-$49. 253-591-5894, www.nwsinfonietta.org, www.broadwaycenter.org

The concert also plays 8 p.m. Dec. 4 at Good Shepherd Center
Chapel Performance Space (4th floor),
4649 Sunnyside Ave N., Seattle.
$20 suggested donation.

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