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Violinist Tessa Lark in 2023-24: World Premiere of Izcaray Concerto, Performances with Buffalo Phil, Beethoven Triple with Orli Shaham, German Debut in Stuttgart & More

(September 2023) — On the heels of a busy summer that included performances with New York’s Carnegie Hall Citywide and Little Island, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, the Ravinia Festival and more, genre-defying, Grammy-nominated violinist Tessa Lark looks forward in the 2023-24 season to giving the world premiere performances of Carlos Izcaray’s Violin Concerto under the composer’s baton with the Alabama Symphony, of which he is Music Director. She also makes her German debut with the Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, performing a piece new to her that she has long wanted to add to her repertoire: Gang Chen and Zhanhao He’s Violin Concerto “Butterfly Lovers.” Lark gives multiple performances this season of Michael Torke’s violin concerto, Sky – with Oklahoma’s Signature Symphony and the Sarasota Orchestra – which, like Izcaray’s concerto, was written for her. In a similar vein, she joins South Carolina’s Greenville Symphony for performances of Wynton Marsalis’s jazz- and bluegrass-inflected Violin Concerto, and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra for performances of Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The versatile violinist is equally at home with classical repertoire from past eras, this season performing Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with pianist Orli Shaham, cellist Raphael Bell and the Virginia Symphony led by Eric Jacobsen; Dvořák’s Romance for Violin and Orchestra and Ravel’s Tzigane with the Buffalo Philharmonic led by Julius Williams; and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto – in which she performs her own cadenza – with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Donato Cabrera. A duo performance with double bassist Michael Thurber, three duo performances with jazz guitarist Frank Vignola, and a recital accompanied by pianist Peter Dugan round out Lark’s season.

Lark’s recent album, The Stradgrass Sessions, features an all-star roster of collaborators and composers: bassist Edgar Meyer, pianist Jon Batiste, mandolinist Sierra Hull and fiddler Michael Cleveland. Gramophone declared of the album:

“Lark is capricious, ecstatic then conversational, friendly then weird. She more than holds her own across the album. 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.”

Reflecting on her unique versatility, Lark says:

“Making music requires community and community requires tradition, connection and a sense of belonging. The way I approach life as a musician – instrumentalist, composer, arranger, avid commissioner and collaborator, Stradgrasser – is often seen as unorthodox and innovative when, really, it’s about as traditionalist as one can get. I take my cue from the greatest composers and performers in the Classical canon: they played old classics alongside new works by their friends and themselves, collaborated with composers on new concerti, and were often curious about folk music and how it could be incorporated into their music and performances. We live in a country that’s younger than much of the Classical music we play, but we have bluegrass, folk music, jazz – extraordinary music that is uniquely American but also a link in the chain of tradition. Understanding that music enriches our connection to Classical music and helps us make music for our own ‘folks’ – the community that gives us a reason to be in this music-making business.”

A Kentucky native relocated to Brooklyn, Lark’s stylistic range gives her great appeal for composers looking to draw from other genres to expand their expressive palettes, including Carlos Izcaray and Michael Torke, whose concertos she performs this season. She premiered Torke’s concerto, Sky, in 2019 and her recording of the work, released the same year, earned her a Grammy nomination. Likewise, Lark is a favorite soloist with stylistically adventurous orchestras: last season she joined the groundbreaking Louisville Orchestra and its conductor, Teddy Abrams, both for their season-opening concerts – at which she performed the Marsalis concerto – and for the first 2023 concert of their statewide “In Harmony” tour in May. The Times characterized her performance of Victoria Borisova-Ollas’s new concerto, Portrait of a Lady by Swan Lake, with the BBC Symphony last season – which she learned on a week’s notice due to the illness of Latvian violinist Baiba Skride – “steely and impassioned,” with “stretches of breathtaking beauty.”

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

Tessa Lark: tour dates 2023–24
Sep 12
Crozet, VA
King Family Vineyards
Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival
With Liana Gourdjia, Timothy Summers, violin; David Quiggle, viola; Edward Arron, Raphael Bell, cello; Anthony Manzo, bass;
Jory Vinikour, harpsichord
HANDEL: Trio Sonata in C minor, HWV 386a
Folk tunes TBA
VIVALDI: Concerto in G, “Summer” (from The Four Seasons)

Sep 14 & 15
Norfolk, VA
Beethoven Festival
Virginia Symphony Orchestra / Eric Jacobsen
Orli Shaham, piano; Raphael Bell, cello
BEETHOVEN: Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C, Op. 56

Sep 17
Charlottesville, VA
Charlottesville Chamber Music Festival
Virginia Symphony Orchestra / Eric Jacobsen
Orli Shaham, piano; Raphael Bell, cello
BEETHOVEN: Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C, Op. 56

Sep 30
Tulsa, OK
“Bluegrass to Bohemia”
Signature Symphony / Scott Seaton
Michael TORKE: Sky

Oct 21 & 22
Buffalo, NY
Kleinhans Music Hall
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra / Julius Williams
DVOŘÁK: Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F minor, Op. 11
RAVEL: Tzigane

Nov 3–5
Sarasota, FL
Sarasota Orchestra / David Alan Miller
Michael TORKE: Sky

Nov 10
Ithaca, NY
Ithaca College Concerts
Duo with Frank Vignola, jazz guitar

Nov 17 & 18
Birmingham, AL
University of Alabama Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center
Alabama Symphony Orchestra / Carlos Izcaray
Carlos IZCARAY: Violin Concerto (world premiere)

Nov 24 & 25
Stuttgart, Germany
Kultur & Kongresszentrum Liederhalle
Stuttgarter Philharmoniker / Marcus Bosch
Gang CHEN, Zhanhao HE: Violin Concerto, “Butterfly Lovers”

Dec 6
Palm Beach, FL
With Michael Thurber, double bass

Dec 7
Palm Beach, FL
Peter Dugan, piano

Jan 6
Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Philharmonic / Donato Cabrera
BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto

Jan 7
Sedona, AZ
Chamber Music Sedona

Feb 17 & 18
Greenville, SC
Peace Concert Hall
Greenville Symphony Orchestra / Wesley Schulz
Wynton MARSALIS: Violin Concerto

April 7 & 8
Hilton Head Island, SC
Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra / John Morris Russell
PIAZZOLLA: Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

May 17 & 18
Worcester, MA
Tuckerman Hall
Duo with Frank Vignola, jazz guitar

May 19
Troy, NY
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Corp
Duo with Frank Vignola, jazz guitar

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© 21C Media Group, September 2023

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