This year marks the 15th anniversary season of Music@Menlo, and also the first time they’ve chosen as their over-arching theme a musical instrument: “The Glorious Violin.” Co-Artistic Directors David Finckel and Wu Han have assembled a program that follows the evolution and development of the instrument from before Bach until today. The festival runs through Saturday, August 5.
There’s more information at the Music@Menlo website.
David Finckel says he’s done a lot of reading about stringed instruments in the past five years or so. “I’ve always been fascinated by instruments, their construction, their history,” he says. “But I never realized until I did the research how closely intertwined the development of the violin as an instrument, the development of violin playing and technique, and composition were linked… In this festival, through the music and performances, one can hear the development of violin playing as an art. And that art became, as time went on, not only more virtuosic, but infinitely more expressive.” The faculty of performers meant they didn’t have to search elsewhere for soloists. “When we went to think about who could play all of this incredibly challenging music for the instrument, right from the first concert, the Baroque concert, all the way through to the end. It put a smile our faces to realize that we had those violinists right under our nose here at Music@Menlo.” The violin joins its chamber music partners in concerts with works written from the Baroque to the current generation, and in addition to the seven Concert Programs and five ‘Carte Blanche’ concerts, there are also master classes, student performances, and the ‘Encounters’ series of conversations. From its very start, Finckel says, Music@Menlo was an enormous opportunity. “In the beginning of the festival, we had this chance, so there was an urgency to the programming. Kind of like a moon shot. You’ve got a chance to get to the moon, and you’re going to give it everything you have.”