“I consider my work as a violinist and musician more as that of a craftsperson than of an artist, working on musical possibilities (longer/shorter, louder/softer, faster/slower, brighter/darker) in order to best represent (re-present, or ‘make present’) and re-create music for audiences.
My self-motivating project during this strange time is to work my way through Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for solo violin, performing each one on a bi-weekly basis over several evenings for a very small group of well-distanced neighbours and local friends in my large space on Bowen Island.
It gets me practicing every morning, and it gives them a brief break from their video screens, and an opportunity to experience some music in three dimensions and with others.
Many musicians turn to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach for consolation. The way Bach’s music combines structural integrity with deep humanity, emotional expression with formal rigour, leaves us feeling like better people for having played or listened to it.
I’m inspired by the great cellist Pablo Casals who, when asked in his 80s why he still practiced Bach’s cello suites every day, replied: “I think I notice some improvement.”
Having spent most of my life making music with others and for others, this current bizarre interruption gives me an opportunity to work on my craft, and to finally really immerse myself in these six amazing and difficult works, with the hope that I will emerge a better player and musician once concert life returns.
Music is unique among the arts in its ability to express contrasting emotions concurrently. Through the experience of making and listening to music we can feel optimism for the future along with nostalgia for the past, all while living with the uncertainty of our present situation.”