December is just around the corner, but just in time, here is your November Newsletter!
Last season, we regretfully had to cancel our 2018 January concerts of Boccherini and Mozart sextets due to illness and a series of unfortunate accidents. We promised to reschedule this special program for this season, and we are looking forward to presenting it to our audiences in Cambridge and Lexington on December 1 and 2, respectively. While we originally had violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock scheduled to lead, she has sadly had to pull out again. However we are so excited and very pleased to welcome the highly acclaimed violinst, Marc Destrubé. It will be a treat to hear him, and all of the Sarasa musicians are looking forward to collaborating with him.
Do not miss this special event!
This weekend! Sarasa presents A Springboard to the Sublime
"I know that music is made to speak to the heart of man, and this is the effect that I aim at producing, if it lies within my power. Music deprived of sentiment and of passions is meaningless, and consequently the composer achieves nothing without the performers."
-Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
One of the most celebrated cellists of the latter half of the 18th century, Boccherini composed music that emphasized melody, inflection, feeling and color over rigorous formal development. These qualities did not necessarily align themselves with the accepted Viennese practice of classical structure championed by Joseph Haydn. However, Boccherini was extremely popular in his day, and his works were widely published throughout Europe during his lifetime. Mozart has enjoyed a much more revered posthumous legacy; perhaps his genius eclipses most other composers because of the human understanding he captured in his operas and the natural ease with which his musical ideas flow. For our early December concert, Sarasa is pleased to present Mozart’s wonderful Sinfonia concertante in E-flat, K. 364 in a rarely heard string sextet version arranged by an anonymous source. Warm-hearted, boisterous and virtuosic, and a wonderful way to start December!
Christina Day Martinson, Marc Destrubé, violins; Jenny Stirling, Jason Fisher, violas; Timothy Merton, Jennifer Morsches, cellos
An Interview with Christina Day Martinson
Christina, we’re excited about Sarasa's upcoming concerts featuring string sextets by Boccherini and Mozart!
1) How long have you been playing with Sarasa?
I think it’s been 13 or 14 years now. Around 2004? Tim Merton called me on Jenny Stirling’s recommendation when she met me playing with Handel & Haydn Society. I guess she had a feeling about me being a good fit for Sarasa.
2) What has been one of your fondest memories or experiences during your musical career so far?
I have to say Sarasa is one of my favourite experiences; I really feel that with Sarasa it’s a place where I can play with my soulmates and be myself. It is an enriching experience, and I particularly love playing chamber music, and do not get to play it enough. Also, the Outreach with Sarasa has always been a very powerful experience. The response from those kids gives me hope for their and our futures, and the belief that the power of music really is strong and crosses all social boundaries.
3) Boccherini’s music has sadly been overlooked until fairly recently, being mostly known for his works for cello. How would you characterise Boccherini’s music, and do you enjoy playing it?
Well, I am not an expert on Boccherini, and I have’t played that much of it. However, I would characterise his music as playful, light and has a certain special kind of imagination-- it sort of reminds me of Haydn’s music.
Recording Boccherini’s Stabat mater with Sarasa really brought out a deeper side of his music that I had not known before. It is very soulful, I found it stimulating to play.
4) We understand Sarasa's recording of Boccherini's chamber music and Stabat mater with the incomparable soprano Dominique Lebel is due for release in April 2019 on the Naxos label. Do you have a special recollection from that experience of recording it?
Well, during the recording I had a month-and-a-half year old baby, so I remember sleep depravation very clearly! But my strongest memory was spending time with the other Sarasa musicians, delving more deeply into Boccherini’s musical language, discovering his language together with that special group of people. Boccherini’s music has certain symbols that are unique to him, and trying to figure those out, to interpret them and develop our own understanding of them was a wonderful experience that I took away. One time, when I wasn’t available for one of the concerts concentrating on the music we recorded for that CD, one of the players said it was especially a shame because we had all developed an understanding of the language together! Also, I found the Tiffany windows in the church in Andover, MA really inspiring to look at while we recorded.
5) What is your favorite music to perform? What is your favorite music to listen to at home?
I like to perform Bach! Anything written by Bach is the most satisfying thing to play. At home, it’s sometimes hard to listen to classical music, it simply can’t be background music for me. And while we try to play some of it for the kids, we tend to listen to other things. One big influence is Leonard Cohen. We have a CD of his in the car, and my youngest child now asks to hear “Suzanne” whenever we’re in the car! Jeff Buckley is also very inspiring. When I was preparing to record Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, I was listening to him a lot. He gets so many colours, ways of expression; he really revs me up for big performances.
One dark family secret I will share— we sometimes listen to new age music on Pandora as background music to make everyone peaceful!
6) What is your favourite activity outside of music?
Right now in my life, the thing that is most rejuvenating for me is yoga and being outside in nature. Actually my No. 1 top favourite activity is being with my kids hiking to the beach to collect our sea animals for our 50 gallon aquarium at home.
7) How do you juggle your time as a mother of three young children with your busy career as concert master of Boston Baroque and Handel & Haydn Society?
I don’t know how I do it actually! There are many times I don’t think I’m doing things as well as I can… But when I have the time with my kids, I know it adds depth and complexity to my music-making, so it helps me during those times when I feel pulled in so many directions. I feel nonetheless that I am a mom that has a good balance; I feel very lucky about that and totally fulfilled.
8) How would you compare Boston winters with those of your native Saskatchewan?
The winters in Boston do not compare to the harshness of the ones when I was growing up in Saskatchewan. There, the winters last 5-6 months, with temperatures as cold as -40ºC or sometimes with the wind chill it was -70ºC!
Frost bite was a real danger, so harsh! Icicles formed on your eyelashes in seconds. But I have now become a bit wimpy here in Boston. At least in Saskatchewan, the coldness is bone dry, but here the dampness goes straight through your bones, and feels much worse.
9) We heard through the grapevine that you and your husband order cases of Tim Merton’s syrup! What are the ways in which you use it most? :)
The daily use of Tim’s syrup is in my morning coffee, or sometimes yoghurt and kefir, as well as pancakes and oatmeal. As a secret ingredient, I add it to salad dressings!!
Thank you for your time, Christina!