Soloist comes to MSO armed with violin and musical memory

Works by Handel, Beethoven, Prokofiev showcased by orchestra

Works by Handel, Beethoven, Prokofiev showcased by orchestra

November 15, 2007|By KATE COLEMAN

Timothy Fain performed on the soundtrack of the 2005 film "Bee Season" as the voice of Richard Gere's violin.

He has performed onstage at Lincoln Center alongside two New York City Ballet dancers, and he has appeared with dance companies in the U.S. and abroad.

In a telephone interview from his New York City home, Fain acknowledged that such opportunities are exciting and important, but he wants to be clear: "I am really, ultimately all about the music."

The music that brings Fain to the Maryland Symphony Orchestra this weekend as guest soloist is Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major. He will perform in the MSO's MasterWorks II concerts at The Maryland Theatre at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18. There also will be a Friday show at Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Md. The orchestra also will play "Water Music" by George Frideric Handel and Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F major.


MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze describes the Prokofiev concerto as "a magical work, at times fiery and vivacious and other times truly ethereal."

She calls Fain "a charismatic young virtuoso, with technique and artistry to burn."

Fain said he's really looking forward to performing with the MSO. He said he doesn't know Schulze yet but heard she made quite a wonderful impression recently guest conducting with the Flagstaff (Ariz.) Symphony Orchestra.

Fain has performed the Prokofiev concerto before. He was 12 or 13 when he played the work's second and third movements in a competition in his native California.

He had been playing violin since he was 7 1/2, pretty clear from a very young age that it was what he wanted to do.

Fain's interest in music began even earlier.

"I started on keyboards and on piano when I was very, very young - even before I could actually reach up to the keyboard."

He said he had a fairly normal childhood, "a wonderful balance," thanks to his parents who pushed him "just enough - not too much."

A graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School, Fain is an Avery Fisher Career Grant winner and was selected as one of Symphony Magazine's Up-and-Coming Young Musicians of 2006.

His career keeps him traveling more than 70 percent of the time. He's recently been in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Europe and Philadelphia. He'll make his Baltimore Symphony Orchestra debut Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 with Marin Alsop conducting.

Tim Fain has the easygoing attitude of someone who grew up in California - he used to skateboard - but he really likes New York City, where he's lived for most of the past eight or nine years. He likes the seasons and spends a lot of time out on his balcony even when it's cold. "And I love Central Park," he said.

The versatile Fain recently played at the club Jazz Standard in New York and is first violinist of the Rossetti String Quartet. He performs in recital. Once, he even got out his violin on an airplane and played some Bach and an Appalachian fiddle tune to help pass the time during a two-hour airport tarmac delay.

The Prokofiev concerto is one of about 30 concertos in Fain's repertoire, and he will play it from memory.

"I always feel more comfortable playing a piece from memory," Fain said. He feels much more free, and he said it's easier to communicate with the audience when you're not looking at a music stand. "It's more fun. It feels more approachable."

Fain understands that from an outsider's point of view it might be amazing to imagine memorizing so much music, "but that's what we do." The end result is rewarding, he said.

"Ultimately, you're at your best when you're playing a piece and you have it from memory. Once you've internalized it, you can put it out there in a way that just feels much more natural."

Fain's debut CD, "Arches," will be out soon. To hear and see him play the title piece by composer Kevin Puts in a video on his Web site, go to

Fain plays his violin every day.

"I can really say I really still love it," he said. "As I get older, that becomes something I'm more and more thankful for every day."

It's the music that moves him, he said and added, "I hope it moves other people, too."

If you go ...

WHAT: MasterWorks II featuring "Water Music" by George Frideric Handel; Sergei Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 in D major; Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F major

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $21 to $79 for adults, and $11 to $40 for children 12 and younger and for full-time students. They are available by calling 301-797-4000 or going to the MSO box office, 30 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown. Box office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets will be available at The Maryland Theatre from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

MORE: Music Director and Conductor Elizabeth Schulze will talk about the program's music and composers one hour before Saturday and Sunday's performances during Prelude. The half-hour presentation is free for ticket holders. For information and to listen to selections from the weekend program, go to the MSO Web site at

MORE IN FREDERICK: There also will be a performance at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, Md. For tickets and information, call 301-600-2828.

MORE TO COME: The MSO will present its annual holiday concert - Home for the Holidays - at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16.

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