Violinist Evan Price is comfortable in a number of styles – he’s played standard repertoire, gypsy jazz with the Hot Club of San Francisco, and spent ten years with the eclectic Turtle Island Quartet. This weekend, he’ll be soloist with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra in a concerto they commissioned from him for jazz violin. Music Director Ben Simon has paired the new work with Stravinsky’s neo-Classical Pulcinella Suite.
There’s more information at the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra website.
The Stravinsky pairing came first – once Ben Simon knew that Price wanted to write for more of a symphonic set of instruments than just for strings. “Neo-Classicism turns out to be the theme of our concert,” Simon explains, “because Pulcinella is Stravinsky’s first major neo-Classical work, which was a blend of modern and old. Stravinsky was inspired by some Baroque pieces, and then put it through the prism of his own intelligence, and came up with this absolutely remarkable hybrid piece.” In that same way, he says, Evan Price is taking the traditional concerto structure and trappings and filling it with his own harmonic language and jazzy melodies. “It’s a violin concerto, and there are certain expectations of that,” he says. “I have to play at least some of the time with kind of a commanding sound, and it needs to show off a little bit without being superficial… I did have to visualize being in front of an orchestra and understanding what would make me comfortable as an accompaniment, what would make me comfortable as an improviser, knowing that I would have a very different back-up band than I’m used to.” The three admission-free concerts concerts, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon are in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Berkeley.
Here’s Evan Price wearing another hat, with the Hot Club of San Francisco: