Johnny Gandelsman

Violinist Gandelsman “plays with a balletic lightness of touch and a sense of whimsy and imagination” —Boston Globe

Violinist Johnny Gandelsman joins forces with MIT’s Gamelan Galak Tika and pianist Sarah Cahill to present a program honoring the centennial of composer Lou Harrison. The program includes Harrison’s groundbreaking works for gamelan and western instruments, performed on instruments built by the composer himself and curated by Jody Diamond. The concert will also feature the world premiere of “By the Numbers,” an homage to Harrison for violin and piano.

In January 2015, Gandelsman gave an unadvertised pop-up recital at MIT, performing Bach’s Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin to a small but packed house. Lloyd Schwartz, describing the event on NPR’s Fresh Air, said, “I’ve heard some famous violinists attempt this epic feat, but none of them gripped me and delighted me as thoroughly as Gandelsman.”

In October 2015, Gandelsman brought his powerful interpretation of these landmark works to a much larger concert hall, reprising his riveting performance for the first annual Terry and Rick Stone Concert in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium.

Johnny Gandelsman’s visits to MIT, and in 2017 to the ICA Boston, are part of MIT Sounding, an innovative annual performance series that blurs the boundaries between contemporary and world music. Curated by Evan Ziporyn, faculty director of the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), the 2015–16 season of MIT Sounding’s diverse offerings ran the gamut, from Bach to Led Zeppelin and Morton Feldman, and from acoustic recitals to electronic manipulations of the human voice. “We sought out artists who are reinventing performance and presentation,” Ziporyn said. “We selected people who are innovating not just through new works and technologies, but by reexamining—and reframing—our notions of genre and repertoire, translating between mediums or radicalizing the performance experience itself.” The 2017–18 season of MIT Sounding integrates the avant-garde sounds of ancient instruments and traditional practices with cutting-edge composition and technology to present various visions of a new, evolving music that defies genre.

The 2017–18 MIT Sounding Performance Series and 2015–16 MIT Sounding Performance Series are presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) and MIT Music and Theater Arts.

Johnny Gandelsman’s musical voice reflects the artistic collaborations he has been a part of since moving to the United States in 1995. As a founding member of Brooklyn Rider and a member of the Silk Road Ensemble, Gandelsman has closely worked with such luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma, Osvaldo Golijov, David Byrne, Béla Fleck, Kayhan Kalhor, Suzanne Vega, Mark Morris, Anne Sofie van Otter, Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, Martin Hayes and Joshua Redman. Gandelsman integrates a wide range of creative sensibilities into a unique style among today’s violinists, one that, according to the Boston Globe, possesses “a balletic lightness of touch and a sense of whimsy and imagination.”

Highlights of the past season include winning a Grammy Award for Best World Music album as a member and producer of Silk Road Ensemble’s latest album, Sing Me Home; premiering the newly commissioned “Cinco Danzas Para Violín” solo by Edward Perez in Minnesota; and performing Philip Glass’s A Madrigal Opera in Brooklyn, NY.

A passionate advocate for new music, Gandelsman has premiered dozens of works written for Brooklyn Rider and Silk Road Ensemble, including works by Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, Vijay Iyer, Béla Fleck, Daniel Cords, Rubin Kodheli, Dana Lyn, Gabriel Kahane, Colin Jacobsen, Shara Nova (previously Worden), John Zorn, Christina Courtin, Ethan Iverson, Padma Newsome, Greg Saunier, Evan Ziporyn, Bill Frisell, Paula Matthusen, Kyle Sanna, Gabriela Lena Frank, Osvaldo Golijov and Lisa Bielawa, as well as a violin concerto by Gonzalo Grau, commissioned for Gandelsman by Community MusicWorks.

The upcoming season includes the Lou Harrison Centennial celebration in Boston; release of the complete Bach’s Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin on “In a Circle Records” and US tours with Silk Road Ensemble and Brooklyn Rider.

Gandelsman was born into a family of musicians in Moscow. His father Yuri is a professor of Viola at Michigan State University, his mother Janna is a pianist, and his sister Natasha is a violinist as well.

More at the artist’s website: Johnny Gandelsman.

Upcoming Events

Suite for Violin and American GamelanConcerto for Piano with Javanese Gamelan and By the Numbers
October 12, 2017 / 8:00pm
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA)
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA

Tickets are $15 for ICA members and students; $25 for nonmembers.

Reserve seats via the ICA

The ICA and MIT present a centennial celebration of composer Lou Harrison. MIT’s Gamelan Galak Tika joins forces with violinist Johnny Gandelsman and pianist Sarah Cahill to present a program of Harrison’s groundbreaking works for gamelan and western instruments, performed on instruments built by the composer himself and curated by Jody Diamond. The concert will also feature the world premiere of composer and MIT Professor Evan Ziporyn’s By the Numbers, an homage to Harrison for violin and piano.

 

 

Past Performances

 

Johnny Gandelsman / J.S. Bach
First Annual Terry and Rick Stone Concert
Bach’s Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
October 30, 2015 / 8:00pm
Kresge Auditorium, W16
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

 

Johnny Gandelsman
CAST Visiting Artist Pop-up Concert
January 5, 2015 / 7:00pm
MIT Killian Hall, 14W
160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA

 

 

Boston Globe: From these Gamelans, a ‘golden rain’ of sound

Boston Globe: Gandelsman Applies Collaborative Lessons In Solo Bach

Boston Globe: A Violinist’s Bach, Shorn of the Monumental

NPR: Brooklyn Rider Blurs Classical Boundaries On ‘Almanac’

New York Times: Deviating From the Modern, to Fresh Effect: Johnny Gandelsman Performs Bach Violin Works at Bargemusic

New York Times: Ideas From Near and Far Meet In Intimate Scale

New York Times: Unleashing the Potential of Strings

Daily Tar Heel: Brooklyn Rider Returns For 10th Time

Boston Globe: The View From Ma’s Silk Road

Boston Music Intelligencer: Bang a Gong, Get It On

Johnny Gandelsman. Demetrius Freeman/ The New York Times/File 2013