Review of Canadian Soloist Scott St. John in Concert
by Rhiannon Nachbaur of Award-Winning Fiddleheads Violin Studio
To me the most pleasing sound in the world is that of an orchestra tuning. Last Sunday, however, it was far surpassed by the vibrantly superb sounds of Okanagan Symphony's guest violin soloist, Scott St. John.
Canadian-born virtuoso St. John has been hailed for his "electric performances and recitals brimming with extroverted spirit," and amply demonstrated this spirit in his performance on Sunday. Portraying a Scottish folk tradition of a fiddler weaving through the rows of corn to bless the upcoming crops, St. John entered stage right playing the lilting first bars of Maxwell Davies' "MacDonald Dances." This unique entrance entertained the audience as they scanned the stage for the origin of the music, saying, "Oh, there he is!"
St. John reminded me of a traditional Canadian fiddler as he played a jig at the tip of his bow and swayed to the music. My toes tapping and head nodding, I was captured by his "classical fiddling," as one audience member
The symphony players provided a visual feast, as always. The bobbing bows of the 1st and 2nd violinists as they played pizzicato (plucking the string) evoked visual images of corn swaying in the breeze. Douglas Sanford's
Sarasate's "Gypsy Airs" showed another side of the soloist: the virtuoso. Playing double-stops (2 notes simultaneously) and freely moving up and down the fingerboard with apparent ease, St. John was a passionate gypsy. The drama intensified as hairs came loose from his bow and he carried on zealously, not unlike legendary violinist Paganini.
What makes St. John so likeable is his lighthearted and friendly stage presence. The audience warmed up instantly to his youthful charm, and snickered when he played extravagant pizzicatos, lightening the mood and
This program suited the symphony, the soloist, and audience very well. In addition to world-class playing, the entertainment value, which is lacking in many other orchestras, was powerfully effective. Some orchestras have