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Following the Release of The Stradgrass Sessions, Violinist Tessa Lark Embarks on Summer Season with Performances at Caramoor, Ravinia Festival, La Jolla Music Society and Many More

(June 2023) — Grammy-nominated violinist Tessa Lark released a new album, The Stradgrass Sessions, last month, with an all-star roster of collaborators and composers: bassist Edgar Meyer – whom the violinist cites as one of her biggest musical influences – pianist Jon Batiste, mandolinist Sierra Hull and fiddler Michael Cleveland. Album selections mix original compositions by Lark and her collaborators with a sonata by Eugène Ysaÿe, whose music forms an important part of Lark’s standard repertoire; a selection of Bartók’s violin duets arranged for violin and mandolin; and the world premiere recording of John Corigliano’s STOMP. Now the violinist embarks on a summer season that takes her from coast to coast in the U.S., including appearances at Caramoor (July 1), the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest (Aug 4–6, 16, 19) and New York’s Carnegie Hall Citywide series (July 14) with her fiancé and collaborator, double-bassist and composer Michael Thurber, who also co-produced the album. She performs at New York’s Little Island (Aug 31) and the Ravinia Festival (Sep 3) with a signature program of Ysaÿe sonatas – celebrating the 100th anniversary of their composition – alternating with her own originals; plays chamber music at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival (June 10–17), Seattle Chamber Music Society (July 18–22) and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra Summermusik Festival (Aug 25 & 26), and much more.

Lark calls her new album, The Stradgrass Sessions “a snapshot of the way I live in music; diversely, organically, intimately, sometimes collaboratively, sometimes solitarily, always sincerely – and anywhere, be it a concert hall or home studio.” The title neatly sums up the violinist’s unique stylistic personality. She explains:

“The word ‘Stradgrass’ first came about in 2015, from the novelty of performing bluegrass on the Stradivari I was playing at the time. … Hearing bluegrass played on a Strad is unusual, unfortunately, so I thought it warranted its own term. The word has caught on in the social media world and seems to succinctly encapsulate what one might partly expect from a recital of mine.”

Lark has a particular love for the music of Ysaÿe and gives several performances this summer celebrating the centennial of his six violin sonatas. As she says:

“When I first heard an Ysaÿe sonata decades ago, it felt like uncovering an intrinsic truth within my musical sensibilities. … My fascination with this man, his life and his music has since only grown, and I’m taking that interest one step further for the centennial of Ysaÿe’s Six Sonatas in 2023. He had a lavish curiosity for music, people and life experience that is reflected within the sonatas by each work’s personal dedication and imaginative scope. I’ll be performing all six Ysaÿe sonatas in one concert, along with new, original pieces inspired by dedicatees that are near and dear to my own heart. This is my way of paying tribute to both the music of this generous and innovative composer and the principles that guided him: to stretch oneself, create new work, and make it for those you love.”


Unforeseen opportunities have recently earned the violinist glowing reviews. This past February she was called upon on short notice to make an unexpected debut with the St. Louis Symphony led by Music Director Stéphane Denève as a last-minute replacement for an ailing Nicola Benedetti, performing Chausson’s Poème and Ravel’s Tzigane. Just two weeks later she took on an even greater challenge, when Latvian violinist Baiba Skride had to withdraw from the performance of a new concerto due to illness. In this case, on a week’s notice, Lark learned Victoria Borisova-Ollas’s Portrait of a Lady by Swan Lake to perform with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican Centre. As The Times reported, the performance was “steely and impassioned,” with “stretches of breathtaking beauty.” The same reviewer was “transported again with Lark’s encore, an immaculate performance of Bach’s Preludio from the Partita in E major.”

The Stradgrass Sessions album has earned similar praise. Gramophone declared:

“The album’s highlight is Edgar Meyer’s Concert Duo for violin and bass, for which Lark is joined in performance by the composer. It’s a remarkable sound world, full of quiet, angular funk. … Her sound is bright, with no-nonsense attack and clarity of note. Sparing vibrato, combined with a gorgeously harmonic approach towards intonation, makes for a wonderful warmth.”

Songlines agreed:


“Kentucky-born, classically trained Grammy-nominated violinist Tessa Lark’s latest album is packed with some of the finest chambergrass music human ears are likely to encounter. … Although she used her usual instrument – a circa 1600 Maggini violin courtesy of the Stradivari Society of Chicago – to record The Stradgrass Sessions, the moniker splendidly evokes the uncommon alchemy running though the album. ‘Concerto Duo for Violin and Bass’ is a masterpiece of intricate interplay between Lark and Meyer. The recording of ‘STOMP’ by American composer John Corigliano spotlights Lark’s deft handling of the work’s non-standard tuning, tricky time signatures and foot-stomping blend of blues, bluegrass and jazz. The deep grace flowing through Stephen Foster’s American folk classic, ‘My Old Kentucky Home,’ has perhaps never been more exquisitely expressed than in Lark and Batiste’s rendition. The Stradgrass Sessions is a rare gem.”

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Tessa Lark: The Stradgrass Sessions
Label: First Hand Records
Release date: May 5, 2023
Tessa LARK (b. 1989)
1 – Jig and Pop (2022) * [4:26] Sierra HULL (b. 1991)
2 – Chasin’ Skies (2011) [2:39] Sierra Hull, mandolin

Tessa LARK
3 – Le Soka (2018) * – Cheese in the Wine (2021) * [3:24] Edgar MEYER (b. 1960)
Concert Duo for Violin and Bass (1999) [11:05] 4 – Mvt I [6:45] 5 – Mvt IV (Finale) [4:19] Edgar Meyer, double bass

Eugène YSAŸE (1858–1931)
Sonata for Solo Violin No. 5 in G major [10:10] Op. 2 (à Mathieu Crickboom) (1923)
6 – I. L’Aurore [4:14] 7 – II. Danse rustique [5:55]

Tessa LARK
8 – Hysedelje (2022) * [1:49]

Michael CLEVELAND (b. 1980)
9 – Lazy Katie (2018) [2:43] Michael Cleveland, fiddle

John CORIGLIANO (b. 1938)
A – STOMP (2010) * [5:53]

Béla BARTÓK (1881–1945) (arr. S. Hull and T. Lark)
44 Duets for Two Violins, Sz. 98 (1931) [2:57] B – Book III: No. 35, Rutén Kolomejka (Ruthenian Kolomejka) [0:58] C – Book IV: No. 39, Szerb Tánc (Serbian Dance) [1:13] D – Book IV: No. 43, Pizzicato [0:44] Sierra Hull, mandolin

Stephen FOSTER (1826–1864) (arr. J. Batiste and T. Lark)
E – Meditation on “My Old Kentucky Home” (pub. 1853) [5:50] Jon Batiste, piano
Total Timing: [51:16] *world premiere recording

Tessa Lark: tour dates
June 10
Ann Arbor, MI
Kerrytown Concert House
Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival
Tessa Lark, violin
Alessio Bax, piano
FRANCK: Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano

June 13
Bloomfield Hills, MI
St. Hugo of the Hills
Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival
BEETHOVEN: String Quintet, Op. 29

June 15
Bloomfield Hills, MI
Temple Beth El
Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival

June 16
Ann Arbor, MI
Kerrytown Concert House
Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival
RAVEL: Sonata for Violin and Cello No. 2 in G (with Paul Watkins)

June 17
Beverly Hills, MI
Seligman Performing Arts Center
In Search of the Sublime
Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival
SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C major, Op. 163, D. 956

July 1
Katonah, NY
Music & Meditation in the Garden
Michael Thurber, double bass

July 14
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall Citywide
Michael Thurber, double bass
Louis Cato, guitar

July 18, 20, 22
Seattle, WA
Seattle Chamber Music Society

July 18 Kian RAVAEI: The Little Things
July 20 BRAHMS: Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60
July 22 Kian RAVAEI: The Little Things
BRAHMS: Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60
SCHUBERT: String Quintet in C, Op. 163, D956

July 26
Truckee, NV
Classical Tahoe
Michael Thurber, double bass

July 28, 30
Incline Village, NV
Classical Tahoe Ricardi Pavilion

July 28 “Made in America”
Daniela Candillari, conductor
BARBER: Violin Concerto, Op.14

July 30 “Love, Murder, and the Violin”
Gilles Vonsattel, piano
BEETHOVEN: Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 9 in A major, Op. 47 “Kreutzer”

Aug 4–6
La Jolla, CA
The Baker-Baum Concert Hall
La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest
Mark Simpson, clarinet
Alexi Kenney, violin
Maiya Papach, viola
Efe Baltacigil, Coleman Itzkoff, cello
J.S. BACH: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (arr. string trio)
Osvaldo GOLIJOV: The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind

Aug 12
Napa, CA
Music in the Vineyards
2023 Esterhazy Concert and Dinner
YSAŸE Sonatas @ 100 and LARK originals

Aug 16 & 19
La Jolla, CA
The Baker-Baum Concert Hall
La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest
“American Classic”
Louis Cato, multi-instrumentalist
Mark Dover, clarinet
Tessa Lark, violin
Michael Thurber, double bass

Aug 25 & 26
Cincinnati, OH
The Barn
Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Summermusik musicians
F. PRICE: Piano Quintet in A minor, III. Juba
Wynton MARSALIS: At The Octoroon Balls, V. Hellbound Highball
TRADITIONALS (arr. Danish String Quartet):
Nordic Folk Tunes
Gammel Reinlender fra Sønndala (Old Reinlender From Sønndala)
Sekstur fra Vendsyssel: The Peat Dance

Aug 31
New York, NY
Little Island
YSAŸE Sonatas @ 100 and LARK originals

Sep 3
Highland Park, IL
Bennett Gordon Hall
Ravinia Festival
YSAŸE Sonatas @ 100 and LARK originals

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© 21C Media Group, June 2023


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