25-year-old violinist, who will appear this weekend with the BSO, draws new classical music fans with Twitter
There are a lot of notable things about Stefan Jackiw, the young violinist who will solo with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra this Sunday.
One thing you might not expect is that he’s an avid user of Twitter while he jets around the world — South Korea, Japan and all over North America — to Tweet about movies he has seen, food he has eaten, people he has encountered and, yes, the gorgeous music he makes.Launched in 2006, Twitter is an instant messaging system that lets users send brief text messages up to 140 characters in length to a list of followers.
“It’s another tool to generate interest in classical music. It gives artists a really tangibly human side and makes them more accessible,” said 25-year-old Jackiw. “I think it’s often hard for an audience to really get to know the musicians. Things like Twitter and Facebook really help.”Case in point: A friend of Jackiw’s from his days at Harvard University, who plays rock in a band and has tens of thousands of followers, recommended Jackiw to his followers. A short while later, Jackiw had thousands more followers, and at a concert in Canada an audience member came up and told him that he’d never been to a classical concert, but he came to his based on the Twitter recommendation.
Jackiw wouldn’t be where he is, however, if he wasn’t prodigiously talented. From his professional debut at age 17 with the Boston Symphony — an event he calls “life-changing” — to his current place as one of the finest young concert violinists in the world, it’s clear he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Jackiw first picked up the violin at the age of 3½, almost entirely by chance.
“It was sort of a lucky accident,” he said. “We were visiting friends with my family and they had a tiny violin laying around that their kids had used and were now too old to use. I was really drawn to it, so they gave it to me. When we came back to Boston, my parents started me on lessons. It’s been my passion since.”
His parents, both scientists, raised him in the Boston area where he lived until he graduated concurrently from Harvard and the New England Conservatory in 2007. He now makes his home in New York City — when he’s not on the road, which he is almost constantly. He’s so busy performing as a soloist with everyone from the London Philharmonic to the Seattle Symphony he has had to take time away from what he says is he favorite part of being a musician: playing chamber music. He recently left his position with the Korean string ensemble Ditto.
“I miss it, absolutely. I learn so much from playing with others. They inspire me. I learn how they think and we all get new ideas from one another,” he said. “It really requires a thorough understanding of a piece. All musicians should do it. I love it.”
Not that he doesn’t love performing solo as well. For his performance this Sunday with the BSO and guest conductor Edward Cumming, he’ll play Sibelius’ “Violin Concerto,” one of his personal favorites. Last year at this time, Jackiw was scheduled to play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the BSO, but had to drop out at the last minute due to a nasty case of the flu. He said he’s happy to be able to make his appearance this year, and to play another great entry in the classical violin repertoire.
“The [Sibelius] piece is one of the great masterworks. It’s really bleak and icy and chilly, though within all the ice are moments of great intensity, of heat and warmth and hope,” he said. “It’s made all the more beautiful because the beauty is covered in bleakness.”
It’s a piece appropriate for this time of year, as autumn fades and winter begins to set in. We need all the warmth amid the cold that we can get.
“It’s what we need, certainly,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite pieces to perform, and I’m really excited to play it here.”
Stefan Jackiw will perform with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Edward Cumming at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono. Also on the bill are Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture” and Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 8.” Tickets start at $16 for adults and $10 for students. For information and tickets, call the Collins Center of the Arts at 581-1755 or 800-622-TIXX, or visit www.bangorsymphony.org.