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Collaboration Across Genres Informs Violinist Johnny Gandelsman's Fresh Take On Solo Bach

Although firmly cemented in the contemporary classical scene via a wide array of collaborative efforts in the past decade that include performing in Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble and as a founding member of Brooklyn Rider, whose versatile interpretations re-imagine the string quartet's parameters, violinist Johnny Gandelsman hadn't had the chance to really focus inward on any solo efforts, until now. 

"After years of playing in collaborative groups, I was looking for a project to do on my own, to see what my musical voice is," Gandelsman says.  The result is a stunning release of Bach's sonatas and partitas

Looking inward allowed him to think deeply about these canonical works he's played since his days as a as a teen. Indeed his many collaborative efforts helped him rethink Bach. Genre-bending musicians, such as banjoist Bela Fleck and Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, helped him see these works in a new light.

"The sense of dance, the sense of movement, that's so prevalent in folk music," he explains, was very helpful for freshly approaching partitas, which are basically dance suites. "I feel like I can find the step or the feel for a dance quicker and then once I find that I have to figure out a way to execute it."

Gandelsman performs in Fayetteville Thursday, Jan. 17, as a member Brooklyn Rider, alongside Bela Fleck  as part of the Walton Arts Center's 10x10 Arts Series. His solo Bach recording is released this month on his own label, In a Circle Records.

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