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5 Minutes With . . . Tim Fain

Charismatic violinist premieres Philip Glass work and scores ‘Black Swan’ cameo


Photo: Briana Blasko

In the fall, you’ll give the US premiere of Philip Glass’ Partita for solo violin during the multimedia concert Portals at Symphony Space in New York City.
It’s going to be an exploration of how we communicate in the digital age, really, a hopeful look at how we can find real meaning in the way we reach out to one another.

Further Resources

Tim Fain on the Road

Symphony Space
September 24
New York, NY

October 6,
Omaha, NE

The Broad Stage
October 9
Santa Monica, CA

Virginia Arts Festival
Spring 2012
Norfolk, VA

Why did you commission Glass?
I played this two-minute, fast-and-furious piece he had written and I kept coming offstage and thinking to myself, “This is amazing, this is so intense—I had no idea that [Glass] wrote music for solo strings like this.” Two minutes was great, but I wanted a whole piece.

Your show centers on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Book of Longing.’ How does the subject matter of his poetry translate into music?
There are parts where you hear [Cohen’s] voice, and there are projected images of his artwork, which I think really help convey a message of isolation and the desire to reach out to people.

I’m really trying to come to grips with this feeling of isolation, you know? Sitting at your computer, you’re in your own private world trying to reach out to everybody. I think the Book of Longing communicated that feeling very well.

You’ve cited Bjork and Beethoven as two of your major influences. How do you think having such varied tastes affects your playing?
What’s interesting is converting all these diverse styles into my own classical playing. The only possible course for music these days is this gradual assimilation of pop culture back into classical style. On every possible level, that’s the direction that excites me the most.

How did you become involved in the movie ‘Black Swan?’
Benjamin Millepied, who choreographed Black Swan, and is also choreographing the dance element to Portals, first approached me on my involvement in the project. He and I had worked together on a couple of things over the years, with the New York City Ballet, for instance. It was a pleasure to work with [Millepied] and Natalie Portman and everyone else on the film.

*This article appeared in Strings July 2011
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