Lara St. John sizzles on strings
Lara St. John has been a phenomenon all her life, celebrated for her fiery fiddling as well as for her girlish looks and being a genius, a star, a wunderkind. She is even quoted on the prestigious BrainyQuote Web site: "At 8 years old, I went down a hill in France on a bike without brakes and smashed my head into a brick wall at about 40 miles per hour."
Violinist Lara St. John with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra
When: 8 p.m. Friday nd 4 p.m. Sunday at the Blaisdell Concert Hall
Tickets: $15 to $68, with $10 student seats and discounts for seniors and military
Call: 792-2000 or visit www.honolulusymphony.com
OK, that doesn't sound particularly brainy. Do musicians really need the left side of their brains anyway? Headlong skull-bashing and semi-nude album covers aside, St. John, now in her mid-30s, is actually known best for her violin playing, a skill bred as a child in a musical family and honed as a globetrotting student, to the point where she actually traveled with gypsies in Eastern Europe.
This weekend, St. John rosins up her bow and performs with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and conductor Christoph Campestrini, cracking the "Exotic Touch" performance with Weber's "Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65," Mozart's "Violin Concerto No. 5 Turkish," Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite, 1919" and the always crowd-pleasing "Bolero" by Ravel.
So how will it go? The Los Angeles Times opined that "St. John brings to the stage personal charisma, an unflagging musical imagination and genuine passion."
Of Scots-Canadian origin, St. John performed her first solo at age 4 -- a concerto with orchestra, no less. She's done fine since then, performing with many of the world's leading orchestras, like the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Boston Pops.
Her "ax" of choice is the 1779 "Salabue" Guadagnini, known among violin fans as "The Resurrection."
St. John describes herself as "junoesque," a code word for "tall." She posed for her first album cover with nothing between her and her fiddle. It sold like hot cakes, and we don't mean you could get a stack of them for a dollar. Her Web site reveals that she currently resides in New York, reads J.R.R. Tolkien, likes reptiles and hangs out at the American Museum of Natural History.
All reviews of her performances praise her passion and artistry, and are somewhat in awe of the heat she generates on stage.
Here's another BrainyQuote from St. John:
"What is classical music if not the epitome of sensuality, passion and understated erotica that popular music, even with all of its energy and life, cannot even begin to touch?"
Hot enough for ya?