I grew up in a family of musicians. My parents met and fell in love over a Beethoven Violin Sonata while they were students at Juilliard. My father played second violin in the Concord String Quartet and traveled all over the world. In his studio, he had a giant map of the world with colorful pins marking every city and country he had visited. That made a big impression on me and at a very young age, I knew that was something I wanted to do too. Along the way my journey with the violin has taken me in directions I never imagined but all of it has shaped me into the musician I am today.
While my family was at the root of my deep connection to music, it was my time playing chamber music at Greenwood Music Camp as a teenager that solidified my desire to be a musician. Upon hearing my peers perform the Schubert Cello Quintet for the first time, I fell in love with playing chamber music within a community founded on music. Similarly, my years as a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center bolstered my commitment to chamber music.
However, after completing my degrees in music performance at Oberlin Conservatory and Rice University I found myself living in Basel, Switzerland playing and touring with the Kammerorchester Basel, the Verbier Festival Orchestra and the Verbier Chamber Orchestra. Living in Europe for four years not only fed my travel bug and allowed me to gain a bigger perspective of the world, but it helped me feel more connected to the long history of classical music. I traveled throughout Europe and Asia and worked with many renowned musicians and conductors specializing in music from the baroque to the modern period; James Levine, Claudio Abbado, Charles Dutoit, Joshua Bell, Giovanni Antonini and Christopher Hogwood to name a few.
Playing in an orchestra helped me realize that I was longing for the creative freedom to make my own artistic choices and create my own programming. I was also interested in connecting more directly with a diverse audience. This led me in two directions. First, I began to develop an interest in exploring other styles of music. I took some fiddle lessons with the fabulous Scottish fiddler Laura Risk, and I started attending pub sessions and summer workshops. I got to work with such inspiring artists as Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas, Hanneke Cassel and Bruce Molsky. From there I joined a team of nurses and bakers from Vermont traveling on a humanitarian relief trip to the Dominican Republic. We visited villages, schools, hospitals, and a women's cooperative. The land of salsa and merengue was light years away from the concert halls of Europe. Still, people really connected with music from Bach to Celtic fiddle and it brought renewed inspiration to be bringing this music to many people who had never even heard a violin.
Secondly, together with the early music soprano, Ana Arnaz, I formed the chamber ensemble, Ex Luce. The objective of the group is to bridge early and contemporary music by putting art music side by side with Traditional European and American repertoire. The group's shared interest in the music of different cultures and time periods creates programs that bring an evocative and exquisite palette of colors and sounds to audiences. To date, the group has performed on concert series in France, Spain, Germany, and the USA. We were also recently resident musicians at Avaloch Farm Music Institute and continue to concertize in Europe and the USA.
When I was asked to join the Apple Hill String Quartet as the second violinist it felt like I was coming full circle in several ways. I recalled my initial inspiration as a child watching my father on this career path. In addition, as a Co-Artistic Director of the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music the job brought together many of the things that I had come to love about being a musician; playing chamber music, traveling, reaching audiences of many varieties and teaching at a summer music camp that brings an incredibly diverse population of students from all over the world to live in a community founded on music. During the regular concert season, in conjunction with Apple Hill’s Playing for Peace program, the Quartet performed concerts and conducted residencies locally in New Hampshire, nationally in major U.S. cities, and internationally around the globe. We performed in venues as diverse as the Ketermaya refugee camp outside of Beirut, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, the Conservatorio Nacional de Musica in Lima, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and UCLA. The quartet made two recordings in our formation, audio, and video which featured works by living composers, Meredith Monk, Philip Glass, premieres by our contemporaries and fellow Oberlin alumni, Dana Lyn and Geoff Hudson, forgotten works by Pavel Haas and Ahmet Adnun Saygun, and classics by Haydn and Purcell. In recognition of our work, the organization won the 2016 CMAcclaim award from Chamber Music America.
My six years with the quartet were wonderful years, but I now find myself on another fascinating path as both a teacher and performer. Over the past two decades, I have sustained a number of repetitive motion injuries while playing the violin. Each time, as part of my recovery, I’ve invested deeper and deeper into different health modalities; From Western medicine and physical therapy, to studies in the biomechanics of human motion and sport psychology, as well as decades-long cognitive and spiritual practices in Alexander Technique and Body Mapping. This thorough investigation into my being has led to a fascination with how body use affects our playing from the quality of sound produced to better access to our creative expression. I now feel called to share what I have learned with my students and collaborate with a worldwide community of musicians who have found themselves intrigued by these possibilities.
Copyright © 2023 colleenjennings - All Rights Reserved.