For violinist Tim Fain, it's all about connecting with the audience. The California native, recently selected as one of Symphony magazine's "Up-and-Coming" young artists of 2006, brings his music to the Center for the Arts at George Mason University Saturday, Oct. 21 with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. At the concert, Fain premieres a cadenza he wrote himself for Beethoven's Concerto, one of his favorite pieces to play. Recently, Fain took a moment to answer some questions about himself and his love for music.
Introduce yourself: I grew up in Santa Monica, Calif. and my first instrument was really the piano. I started when I was old enough to reach up to the keyboard. But I really didn’t start lessons till I was 7 1/2, I actually sort of had a childhood. I started violin when I was 8. I pretty much grew up there. I left the West Coast right before senior year to go to the Curtis School in Philadelphia and then went to Juilliard for my Master’s. Curtis Institute of Music is a one-of-a-kind school, and many people haven’t heard of it because it keeps a pretty low profile. They don’t do advertising because they don’t really have to — people know it’s pretty much the best music school in the country, and it’s tuition-free. It’s hard to get into, they have about 170 kids there. I felt pretty good [getting in] because when I walked through the doors I turned to my dad and said, “This is where I’m going,” and he said, “Yeah, play well in your audition.”
When did you begin to love music? I’ve always loved music. When I was a child I’d make drums of just about anything I could find. In preschool, I used to drag my mom and dad down the hallway, where they had this old beat-up electric organ, after school. They pretty soon got the idea, and that Christmas that organ showed up — they had bought it from the preschool — under the Christmas tree. Since then, I’ve played different instruments. I played the bass guitar in high school and took up the trumpet six years ago, but the violin was really the one that stuck.
How do you approach playing the violin? Communicating with an audience, taking that communication to the next level.
How do you feel about playing with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra? I’m really excited, I heard they’re really good. I have friends who grew up in D.C. and they said, “Aw, man, you’re playing with Fairfax?”
Anything special about the upcoming concert? The Beethoven Concerto — it’s not only one of my favorite pieces to play, but I’ve also written my own cadenza for the piece [a cadenza is a 2-3 minute improvised solo near the end of first movement]. It’s going to be my first time playing it, so it’s going to be very special. It’s a really big piece, a very powerful and very beautiful piece, and a very transcendent work as well. It’s just a really powerful piece of music and certainly one of Beethoven’s strongest pieces. I feel so lucky that he wrote this concerto for the violin. It’s certainly one of the most difficult concertos to play, for the musician, because of the length, and it’s very tricky to get the emotions at the right time. It’s hard to get the right feeling and right power and the sense of transcendent beauty in second movement, and still have energy left for the third, and last, movement.
Classical influences? Johann Sebastian Bach’s music. His music has always had a really profound effect on me, and my parents tell me that [Bach] was one of the first pieces I heard when I came back from the hospital when I was born, it was playing on the radio, or on the stereo or something. It always just made sense. Nathan Milstein has always been a big influence, and also Zino Francescotti, and I guess also Richard Goode.
Non-classical influences? I’ve always loved Nina Simone. There’s something about her voice that’s hypnotic and also intoxicating. I’ve always loved Bjork as well, her voice. So that would be some more non-classical influences.
Favorite spots to tour? Well I love Italy. I really loved Italy and going to the original Spoleto [arts festival] in Spoleto, Italy. It’s just amazing and I’m totally psyched to be going there again this summer as well.
Future plans? I’m going to be playing Beethoven’s Concerto again in early December, back in Philadelphia in the Verizon-Kimmel Center with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. I also have a recital coming up in New York City in the beginning of November. There’s lots of great stuff coming up, I’m going to be playing the Red Violin Suite for the first time, and I have a few world premieres coming up of pieces written for me. I’m also looking forward to the release of my new CD, “Arches.” It’s named after the title track called “Arches” by an excellent New York composer by the name of Kevin Puts.
— Lea Mae Rice