Thursday, January 24, 2013

Violin Portals

By Peter Hall, Classical 94.5 WNED program host

Tim_FainYoung violinist Tim Fain, born in Santa Monica, is perhaps best known to the world for his performances in the movie “Black Swan” and his work with American composer Philip Glass. But, there are so many facets to Tim Fain you really can’t sum up exactly who he is. I first encountered Tim Fain on the UB Amherst campus in 2010. Both my wife and I were very impressed with this young man of contrasts. He's tall, very handsome, West Coast casual, but Buffalo-style down to earth.  He's a very serious musician but has so much fun playing the violin you wonder where he gets the energy. He's done a recital tour with modernist composer Philip Glass, but reveres the old violin he has. It’s a very rare instrument made by Franceso Gobetti in Venice in 1717, called the "Moller," on extended loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago. He's like a big kid with really cool toy. 

Actually, he's bringing several neat toys to UB's Center for the Performing Arts, at 7:30 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 25.  His show is called "The Portals Project." Now, what, exactly is a "portal?"  In general, a portal is one central place makes information accessible, and in our digital age, a "web portal" is a website that brings information from a number of sources to one location.  If you regularly use iGoogle, or MSN, or Yahoo! you've seen a portal.  But have you thought about how it’s changed your life?  That’s the kind of thing Tim thinks about. A lot.

So, when Tim takes the stage on Friday, he'll be there with his old 1717 violin but he’ll have a portal that will digitally bring onto the stage a number of musical collaborators, including poet and songwriter, Leonard Cohen, composer Philip Glass, Benjamin Millepied (the choreographer for the movie "Black Swan”) and more. You see, Tim wonders how we all connect in the digital age. Right now you're reading a blog, and then you might make a cellphone call, or you might make that call with Skype, one of Tim's favorite inventions. Tim thinks about Skype, music, art and collaboration frequently and how it's possible to seem to inhabit another’s space, even though you are miles apart. He’s got movie star looks, but a philosopher’s mind.  As I said, he’s a man of contrasts.

You can see Tim Friday night at UB or for free on Saturday morning, January 26 at the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall when he conducts a Master Class for three young local musicians. Listen to a recent conversation I had with Tim on Classical 94.5 WNED!

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