Here's a performance to savor, something to give you a few moments of peace and beauty: violinist Vijay Gupta plays "When the Violin," written by his wife, Reena Esmail.
I was absolutely mesmerized when I heard this piece for the first time back in July, when Vijay performed it on Gilharmonic on Violinist.com, our show with Gil Shaham. And in fact, Gil loved the piece so much that he included it in his recital last week on Idagio's Global Concert Hall. (You can still watch that recital through tomorrow, click here to buy a ticket).
Vijay posted this performance on Youtube today -- it was filmed by Louis Ng last month at a beautiful church in Pasadena called All Saints - a lovely setting.
"This piece is about that first moment of trust, of softening," writes composer Esmail, "about the most inward moments of the human experience, of realizing that ‘breakthroughs’ often don’t have the hard edge, the burst of energy that the word implies, but that they can be about finding tender, warm, deeply resonant spaces within ourselves as well." Originally composed for choir and cello, based on the Hindustani raga "Charukeshi", this solo violin version was adapted for unaccompanied violin by Reena to be performed as part of the 2020 Nancy Hanks Lecture on Art and Public Policy, presented by Americans For the Arts by Vijay Gupta in June 2020. If you want the sheet music, click here to find it.
And lastly, here is the poem that inspired the music:
Can forgive the past
It starts singing.
When the violin can stop worrying
About the future
You will become
Such a drunk laughing nuisance
Will then lean dow
And start combing you into
When the violin can forgive
Every wound caused by
The heart starts
— Hafiz, The Gift (tr. Daniel Ladinsky)
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