From April 1 to 10, Irish violinist Gregory Harrington will be coming to China to perform his blend of classical and contemporary music. Besides dates in Guangzhou, Beijing, Tianjin and Dalian, Harrington will be passing through Shanghai for a recital with pianist William Lewis at the Oriental Art Center on April 3. Intrigued by a musician who has been described as combining “velvet smoothness with intricate passion”, Shanghaiist got the scoop up once he landed in the Middle Kingdom.
Works by Beethoven, Bach, St Saens, Kreisler, Brahms & Vieuxtemps
Where: Oriental Art Center, 425 Dingxiang Lu, near Century Blvd,
Time: April 3rd, 7:45pm
Cover: 300, 180, 120 or 60 RMB. Buy tickets here
Why do you blend classical and contemporary/sophisticated styles. Is there a certain group of potential listeners you want to appeal to?
I have many influences – and adore performing some of the great composers – the three B’s – Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. I always try to schedule them when I am performing a recital and I feel that what you present to an audience has always to be fresh – that way they get a unique experience at each concert, so I love performing classical.
But blending that with something different is what makes the whole experience enjoyable. It is about changing the perception of how an audience perceives a violinist – when I return to New York I perform two concerts with the backing of strings that blends Bach and Vivaldi with Coldplay and Dylan. It’s one thing to write an arrangement and just do what a previous artist has done with their music, but f you want to make it successful then you have to find a way to voice it for your instrument so that it sounds so natural.
I am excited about the arrangement of “Yellow” that I have just finished.
Is this your first time performing in China? If not, has anything changed since your last visit?
I have just arrived in Beijing and as it is my first time in China I am really looking forward to the whole experience. I will be in Shanghai in a few days and can’t wait – from what I see it looks such a beautiful city. The venue (Oriental Arts Center) is fantastic (…) it will be one of the highlights for me!
What words of advice can you give to burgeoning young musicians in China?
Always communicate with your audience, and enjoy practice. Tell a story and perform from within. While it is important to be technically perfect, tell a story that makes you individual through your music, your perception of what a composer or artist is saying, a story that is personal. That way you are giving a unique interpretation of the music that you are playing. When you are onstage, let it all flow from within and just communicate with your audience. And did I mention practice?!
What are your future recording/tour/performance plans?
I have a new CD that is coming out this summer based on the music of renowned Scottish composer James MacMIllan and we have three premieres on it, so I am excited about this disc. [It was] recorded with British virtuoso Simon Mulligan on piano (and Caroline Stinson on cello for the trio) once I get back from China, I will start the process of planning tours in Ireland and South America and many concerts in the US. I have two new discs to record in the summer of ’11 and a new violin concerto for that season as well. So [there are] some diverse projects on the horizon musically.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
10 years’ time? Well, I would love to be doing what I am doing, except on a more frequent global level: developing and building my brand with more frequent and longer tours in Asia, America, Europe and Australasia. Tentatively, I have 6 – 8 more discs to record to show what I feel I can really do well and to diversify what I can give to different audiences and markets. For the longer term I am very interested in starting my own Foundation – giving back to those who need help in one manner or other.
Is there anything else on your Shanghai to-do list during your trip?
I have about a day and a half in Shanghai in total – which is not a lot – so I would like to walk around and get the feeling of the city. I am meeting my Dad there (he is coming in from Ireland) so I am sure there are some great places to eat and relax the evening before the concert with spectacular views of the city. I think as it is such a small time in Shanghai I would like to experience the Shanghai Museum – it’s supposed to be incredible with over 5,000 years of history – see the Bund, take a ride on the Maglev and maybe some very relaxed ambling in the Taikang Lu area…although, I am open to suggestions!
What can you promise your audience in Shanghai?
Hopefully a fresh way of listening and experiencing a classical concert. My programs are not typical, as I like to change it up a little from the usual 3 large sonatas in a classical evening performance. [I] perform the beautiful and more substantial composers in the first half, where you get such a satisfying feeling from delivering interpretations of their music, and the second half is more about the shorter pieces that are eclectic, virtuoso, romantic and intimate and take the listener on a more emotional journey. All the pieces that I play have some form of personal connection for me, which makes them easier to give an honest and fresh rendition each time.