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Classical Fiddling Adds Spark to Symphony

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
described it. Add to that the sustained intervals of 5ths from the woodwinds that were cleverly written to depict droning bagpipes and I had to remind myself that I was at the symphony, not a pub!

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
conducting was grand and passionate, and I found his interplay of smirks and raised eyebrows with St. John quite amusing.

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
removing any trace of the stuffiness often felt in a concert hall. During his standing ovation, St. John stood quietly in place, seemingly modest without his violin as "woo hoo" was heard from all directions.

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
resorted to goofy antics to attract audiences at the cost of cheapening the music. The Okanagan Symphony, however, maintained that perfect balance of musicality and entertainment that elevates live performance over any audio recording. This energetic and youthful approach to classical music is what will attract younger generations and maintain a successful orchestra for years to come.

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Fiddleheads.ca Main Page Like and Follow Fiddleheads Violin Studio on Facebook View Shopping Cart: Pay with Credit Card or Paypal Account Fiddleheads is a Canadian Business that serves customers around the world Fiddleheads is an eco-friendly business Fiddleheads is an Award-Winning Business run by an Award-Winning Musician and Young Entrepreneur Serving Elated Customers Worldwide: Click here for Testimonials Fiddleheads Violin Studio is Operated by an Award-Winning Symphony Violinist and Teacher Fiddleheads is the World's First Eco-Friendly Violin Shop Fiddleheads' Owner has won numerous awards for Business and Musicianship Fiddleheads Serves Elated Customers Worldwide Welcome to Fiddleheads Violin Studio Located in Canada, Fiddleheads serves customers worldwide foo Like and Follow Us on Facebook!