September 21, 2017
Join Subscriber List
Login Join
Colours of Music Festival: Violinist sharing his art at festival
COLOURS OF MUSIC FESTIVAL: Violinist sharing his art at festival
By Susan Doolan - Special to the Examiner
Posted 2 months ago

Brian Lewis is living the life he dreamed of as a kid. It's one of the reasons he likes to pass on his knowledge to young musicians and he will be conducting several workshops at local high schools when he is in Barrie for Colours of Music.

The Texas-based classical musician is this year's violinist-in-residence.

He will be making an appearance at numerous concerns over the next few day including Friday's opening, with the Ames Piano Quartet.

"A lot of the music I have already performed but it's always fun to add some new pieces you don't know because it keeps artists fresh and, being able to bring music that may not be known completely to audiences around the world," he said. "So I'm very excited."

This is Lewis' second time playing Colours of Music, a 10-day classical music festival that brings some 150 musician to Barrie from across Canada, the United States and beyond. The last time he was here was two seasons ago.

While Lewis spent the summer preparing for the Barrie concerts, he is back at his usual post, teaching violin to students at the University of Texas, in Austin. It is a chair post which allows Lewis to represent the university, award scholarships to student and plan speciality programs. He also directs the violin program at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and is a visiting professor at Yale University.

All of it is in addition to an active concert schedule, performing with the Texas Piano Quartet, (he is a founding member), the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston (he is concertmaster) and touring � following Barrie, he is slated

to play Japan, Costa Rica and France over the next year.

"I always loved to play the violin and made the decision at my 11th birthday that I would become a professional violinist," said Lewis, who was selected to tour some of the biggest cities in the U.S. at age 10, performed before a home crowd of 11,000, at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall among others and he also met President Carter. "I remember thinking, as a 10-year-old standing in Carnegie Hall, that this was kind of cool; maybe I'd like to do this for

a living."

Lots of travel ranks at the top of his list of reasons for becoming a classical musician. The other three, in order, are he can eat a lot of different types of food; meet lots of interesting people and he can play his violin every day.

Lewis grew up in Ottawa, Kansas, surrounded by violin students. His mother, Alice Joy Lewis, was a violin teacher

and while she didn't teach her son, she did practice with him every day, a move Lewis said very smart because she could say "your teacher wants you to do this."

So Lewis naturally wanted to do, at age four, what everyone else was � play the violin.

He credits his mother with helping to found the Suzuki method in the United States � she was involved with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki when he first came to the U.S. in 1964.

As a child, Lewis was also able to study with Suzuki twice, in Japan, and considers him a huge influence.

Despite the amount of performances and travel, Lewis takes his teaching very seriously and at the university will either make up classes for his students or hire a replacement teacher while he is gone.

And he's happy to do workshops with young people, such as in Barrie, because he believes it is the responsibility of classical musicians to share their art with the next generation.

"I had the privilege of playing with an organization called Young Audiences of Houston � had an opportunity to play for more than 165,000 Houston-area children over eight years." he said. "It takes a lot of time but it's really, really important, particularly (for) kids that are playing (music), to help them see what might be the next step or to understand the importance of practicing or going to concerts or exposing themselves to an environment that will breed success for them."

Lewis is performing at four concerts while he is Barrie, starting with Friday at Central United Church, 7:30 p.m. Festival passports are $85 for adults, $25 for students.

Individual tickets and passports are available in advance at Music Pro (705-725-1070) or Our House (705-725-0829), as well as at the door.

Friday, Sept. 23

7:30 p.m. � An American Holiday with the Ames Piano Quartet, Quartet-In-Residence, and Brian Lewis, Violinist-In-Residence. Program includes Schoenfield, Foote, Cadman and Romantic American Composers, all at Central United Church.

Saturday, Sept. 24

Noon � Watch a master class with pianist Valerie Tryon, Pianist-In-Residence, working with three outstanding piano contestants from the Barrie Kiwanis Music Festival at Hi-Way Pentecostal Church.

2:30 p.m. � Romance In France with the Ames Piano Quartet and a program of Saint-Saens, Faure, Hahn at Central United Church.

7:30 p.m. � Brahms German Requiem with the Tallis Choir; King Edward Choir; baritone Andrew Love; soprano Allison Arends; duo pianists Peter Tiefenbach and Robert Kortgaard � conductor Peter Mahon, all at Hi-Way Pentecostal Church.

Sunday, Sept. 25

2:30 p.m. � Balalaika Virtuoso with Russian Duo Balalaika Oleg Kruglyakov and pianist Terry Boyarsky in the passionate rhythms of Russia at Burton Avenue United Church.

7:30 p.m. � Soaring Strings with Sinfonia Toronto, Orchestra-In-Residence, violinist Brian Lewis and conductor Nurhan Arman in Mozart's majestic First Violin Concerto, Beethoven and Elgar at Central United Church.

Monday, Sept. 26

10 a.m. � Musicologist Kerry Stratton gives a talk on the music of the day, a discussion and review of the day's concerts, providing insight on what to expect. Catch it at Central United Church.

Noon � JunctQin � pianists Elaine Lau, Joseph Ferretti and Stephanie Chua play toy pianos, harmonica, music boxes, everything from Baroque to Beatles, Central United Church.

2:30 p.m. � Andrew Love and Friends: baritone Andrew Love, Singer-In-Residence, joins the Ames Piano Quartet and violinist Brian Lewis in a program of Finzi, Barber, Vaughan-Williams at Hi-Way Pentecostal Church.

7:30 p.m. � Schubert's Octet features the Penderecki String Quartet, clarinetist James Campbell, Louis-Philippe Marsolais on horn, Ian Whitman on double-bass and Mathieu Lussier, bassoon at Burton Avenue United Church.