ANCALAGON'S MOZART RECORDING RECEIVES 2011 JUNO AWARD
NEW YORK, NY – On August 3rd, violinists Lara and Scott St. John present a new Mozart recording to be released exclusively on iTunes two months prior to the Hybrid SACD/CD release on October 12th. The siblings St. John share the spotlight in three of the composer’s violin concerti recorded on Lara’s Ancalagon label. The focal point of the album is Mozart’s monumental Sinfonia Concertante (K. 364), the last and greatest of his string concerti. This piece is rarely recorded in its original form, with the viola part in scordatura (with open strings tuned a semi-tone lower than standard tuning). Scott St. John takes up the viola to join his sister on the recording, making this the first time the Sinfonia Concertante has ever been recorded by siblings. The remainder of the album lets each St. John take center stage. The Violin Concerto No. 1 (K. 207) is led by Scott, and Lara has the solo voice in the Violin Concerto No. 3 (K. 216). The innovative New York-based ensemble The Knights collaborate with the pair on all the works (also led by a sibling act composed of conductor Eric Jacobsen and concertmaster Colin Jacobsen). The internationally acknowledged sound recording legend Tonmeister Martha de Francisco is recording producer. Having produced or engineered over 300 recordings, de Francisco has been entrusted with the recording legacy of world-class soloists and orchestras from Alfred Brendel to the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Scott and Lara began playing together at the ages of 5 and 3 respectively, just as Mozart and his own sister famously played together from a young age. Of the Sinfonia Concertante, Lara explains, “My brother and I first learned the piece when I was 10 and he 12. Most children have a special kinship with Mozart, and we were no exception. Although we had already each learned and performed a few of his violin concertos by that age, we both knew the Sinfonia to be something else entirely. None of his earlier violin concertos have such a towering opening movement, the emotional outpouring of the second, and the sheer joy of the last. Each time we have revisited it over the years, we love it more, and discover new insights into the genius of this fellow. Although most pianists would challenge me to a duel for saying this, I wholeheartedly believe this is the greatest of his concertos; it is rarely played as it was meant to be heard, due to the difficulty of the scordatura for the violist, but I am lucky enough to have a brother who is not only a superb violist, but also a fantastic musician who plays this Sinfonia like no one else."
When looking for cover ideas, Lara’s mind turned to the historical. “We are the St. Johns, and the orchestra is The Knights! We should use a symbol,” she says. Thoughts turned to the Maltese cross, the symbol of the Knights of the Order of St. John. By 1565, this group was one of the last remnants of the Crusades - they were not crusaders, but were called the Knights Hospitaller. They helped pilgrims across what is now Syria, and nurtured the sick and wounded for centuries. Even today, ambulances and fire trucks use a version of the Maltese cross from that origin. At the height of the Ottoman Empire, the Knights valiantly defended their fort against the Turks in battle, and some say they stopped the Turks from getting a foothold in Western Europe. “Although that might be a bit exaggerated,” says St. John, “there’s no doubt that they were quite brave.” Mozart himself had contacts with the organization, from his performance at age ten for the grand prior of the papal Knights of St. John to his membership in a Viennese Masonic lodge that associated itself with the charitable traditions of the knights.
Lara St. John’s 2010-2011 season kicks off on July 2nd with appearances at the Montreal Jazz Festival as she joins the Matt Herskowitz Trio for performances of his “Jerusalem Trilogy.” The group takes the Trilogy to the Bremen Musikfest and the Singera Festival in Warsaw in September. Lara and Martin Kennedy then embark on a North American recital tour that will extend into 2011, beginning on October 15 at Rockefeller University in New York. Additional highlights of the season include the March 19, 2011, world premiere of Kennedy’s “Trivial Pursuits” with the South Dakota Symphony. The violinist also gives the US premiere of Matthew Hindson’s violin concerto “Australian Postcards” with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on February 16, 2011. An eight-city tour of Australia begins in April, including the world premiere of Hindson’s “Maralinga” with the ACO2, the touring ensemble of the internationally renowned Australian Chamber Orchestra. Additional symphonic engagements include the South Florida, Canberra, Ulster, Christchurch, and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras. (Click here for current schedule)
About Scott St. John
Scott St. John, recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2003, is the violinist of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University. St. John resides and teaches in the Bay Area. SLSQ performs over one hundred concerts worldwide every year and is committed to expanding the world audience for living composers. St. John made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1988, after winning first prize in the Alexander Schneider Competition. Since his 1989 Young Concert Artists win, he has played an enormous variety of concerts across North America. His solo recordings include an all-Dvořák CD and two volumes of Paganini works for violin and guitar.
About The Knights
The Knights are a fellowship of adventurous musicians who creatively engage audiences in the shared joy of musical performance. Based in New York City, The Knights expand the orchestral concert experience with their diverse programming, innovative formats and a unique atmosphere of camaraderie that captures the intimacy and immediacy of chamber music. Led by conductor Eric Jacobsen, The Knights have performed in a wide spectrum of concert venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Le Poisson Rouge, Celebrate Brooklyn, the Baryshnikov Arts Center and Central Park, as well as the Dresden Musikfestspiele and Dublin’s National Gallery. The orchestra's extensive repertoire features traditional and contemporary music and has included collaborations with artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Gil Shaham, Paula Robison, singer-songwriter (and Knights violinist) Christina Courtin, Iranian ney (Persian bamboo flute) virtuoso Siamak Jahangiri, fiddler Mark O'Connor, Syrian clarinetist/composer Kinan Azmeh, cellist Jan Vogler and composers Osvaldo Golijov and Lisa Bielawa.
More information can be found at www.theknightsnyc.com