Living life through music in Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek, CO Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” “Bach is like the Bible to musicians,” says Julia Fischer, who performs in Beaver Creek, Colorado Wednesday. “(It is) something eternal, something that counts for all time.”
Fischer, along with the acclaimed Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (ASMF), is recreating the timeless sound of this master composer for a new generation. Their recent release of Bach Concertos rose to No. 1 on the Billboard classical charts, and became the highest selling classical debut in iTunes history. Their current tour, which stops at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek Wednesday night, celebrates the Concertos as well, featuring Bach’s Concerto for Violin No. 1 in A minor and Concerto for Violin No. 2 in E Major, along with pieces by Benjamin Britten and William Walton.
The tour is also special and unique in that Fischer herself is leading the ensemble as “director.”
When the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (ASMF) was formed by the legendary Sir Neville Mariner in 1958, it was structured as a collaborative group. Without a conductor at the helm, the ensemble places great emphasis on the cohesion and creative synergy that came from the musicians playing together, rather than following the lead of a single conductor.
Throughout the years, ASMF has played in various formats, with any number of musicians taking the helm as “director,” and occasionally, with Mariner picking up the conductor’s baton. But the collegiate spirit and flexibility of the ensemble remain one of its defining traits to this day.
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
According to Fischer, Sir Neville Mariner himself recognized her ability to lead the ensemble, and tapped her to take on the director role.
“One night Sir Neville said to me ‘I don’t think you actually need me here. Why don’t you do something with them without me?'”
According to Harvey de Souza, principal first violinist, having Fischer at the helm is a treat for the players as well as for the audience.
“Her perfectionism is quite outstanding,” de Souza said. “She’s always on. She plays magnificently ” her ability on the violin is second to none, and we all see this. Her approach is very professional, and it brings out the best in us.”
De Souza, who has played with the Academy for nearly 16 years, said that playing as a conductor-less ensemble is truly what the Academy musicians do best.
“The Academy first started out as a directed group, not a conducted group, so it’s what we do,” he said. “The whole idea when Neville started the group was to encourage this kind of playing ” a cohesiveness that comes from feeling that you’re part of something, and not only following. It’s very evident when you see us play ” everybody participates, no one sits around and just follows.”
The recent Bach Concertos release was not the first time the Academy had recorded Bach, and so the players slipped easily into the role, following the exemplary playing and inspiration from Fischer.
“It was almost surprising how easily it all fit into place,” de Souza said. “I remember during the recording sessions, we were able to get things right on the first go around. We would end up with so much extra time, because the playing was just so natural and good. It was a great experience ” everything just seemed to fit.”
And it is precisely this “fit,” this synergy between the musicians, that de Souza said sets the ensemble apart and has brought them such success across the decades.
“We absolutely love it when we’re in an intimate setting and can engage with the audience,” de Souza said. “And in a small theatre, the audiences can truly witness the incredible synergy of an ensemble playing without someone waving a stick at as us ” it requires the engagement and commitment of all the players. We live our lives through this music ” we play as though our lives depend on it.”
Sarah Dixon is the public relations manager at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.