“Dazzling technical skill.”
“Old school” virtuosity.
The accolades for violinist Tim Fain just keep rolling in -- from such prestigious publications as The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Boston Globe.
Not only has Fain played with top symphony orchestras internationally, but you can also hear him playing on award-winning film soundtracks.
Helenans can expect a very special evening of music when Fain takes the stage with the Helena Symphony Orchestra 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 1, to play Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.
Mendelssohn’s concerto has been described as one of the most perfect works for violin, replete with sparkling melodies and blazing bravura.
Saturday’s concert and Symphony Season 66 culminate with French composer Georges Bizet’s First Symphony.
The audience can Stream Saturday’s concert as part of the HomeStream Your Helena Symphony presented by AARP Montana, available on YouTube, the Helena Symphony’s website (www.helenasymphony.org/), and the Symphony’s Facebook page.
“It’s one of my favorite concerti to perform,” said Fain of why he chose this work, speaking in an IR phone interview from his Bitterroot Valley home.
“It has a very joyous last part. The final movement is very joyous and that really spoke to me during this time when there is still so much uncertainty... I felt we all deserved to have that kind of joy in our lives through this piece and through music.”
What to listen for?
“I’d say for this one there’s a real sort of interplay and dance between the orchestra and the violin, which I think is really exciting, particularly in the final movement -- places where you really get a sense of a conversation between the violin and the orchestra. It builds and builds right up to the very last moment.”
Fain was drawn to music from a very early age. ”It became such a part of me -- music, playing the violin, also the piano, composing music.”
He started playing piano at 6 and violin at 7.
“I think, objectively, the violin is not such a natural instrument to play. You have to contort your body into all sorts of different postures just to get around the instrument. But somehow, it was the perfect match for me.”
He grew up surrounded by music. His parents were both scientists who loved music, particularly classical.
Fain recalls retreating to his room with his own little radio that he listened to all the time -- playing everything from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Michael Jackson to a Haydn symphony.
He also loved to sing. “Singing as a kid was something that was very important to me” and still influences his music today.
Living in the Los Angeles area while growing up, he had the rare opportunity to sing in a huge chorus for the Steven Spielberg film, “Empire of the Sun,” under music director and composer John Williams.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Fain said, “I guess a lot of the works I play on the violin have a certain singable quality to them.”
The Mendelssohn concerto falls into that category, he said. It “definitely has a singable quality. I come away from that music with some of the tunes stuck in my mind.”
Accolades follow Fain, wherever he plays.
“Fain has the honeyed tone, spectacular technique and engrossing musicality of an old-school virtuoso tied to a contemporary sensibility.” -- Los Angeles Times
“Timothy Fain delivered one of the best performances of the Beethoven Violin Concerto I’ve ever heard. It was strong, beautifully shaded, and intensely emotional.” -- Philadelphia Inquirer
“Tim Fain has everything he needs for a spectacular career. What brought the audience to its feet demanding three encores was his sheer youthful exuberance and dazzling technical skill.” -- Washington Post
In addition to playing with the premier symphonies and composers around the world, Fain also works in film.
He did the ghost playing for lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave,” “voiced” Richard Gere’s violin in “Bee Season," and appeared on screen and played on the soundtrack of “The Black Swan,” among others.
He recently recorded a lot of solo violin for a new Joel Coen film, “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” starring Frances McDormand, due out this year.
A regular collaborator with composer Phil Glass, Fain’s also known for some very exciting multi-media collaborations and boundary-pushing creations. His work “Portals” premiered to sold-out crowds in New York and Los Angeles.
During COVID, he’s continued to create, although he hasn’t been able to tour and perform.
Since spring of 2020 he’s been working with a friend to create music and soundscapes for hospital Recharge Rooms where health practitioners can go for much needed rest. “We worked with sonic and visual elements for a fuller multi-sensory experience.” There are about 30 of these rooms around the country, he said, and preliminary research indicates a 15-minute visit to the room can result in almost a 60% stress reduction, possibly preventing the onset of PTSD.
Although there is so much suffering going on in the world, he’s been able to step back from a typically very busy travel and concert schedule and focus on creating.
He’s partnered with Ryan O’Neal on a new track “Hope,” available on Spotify, which is raising money to help orphans.
He’s also composed a new violin concerto, “Edge of a Dream,” that he plans to premiere in 2023.
It should be noted, that on Saturday night Fain will be playing on a spectacular violin made by Francesco Gobetti, in Venice in 1717, “the Golden Period of violin-making.” The “Moller,” is on extended loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
The Mendelssohn concerto “is the bar every concerto is held up against,” said music director Allan R. Scott. It’s one of Mendelssohn’s largest orchestral works and is “very virtuosic for the soloist.”
“It’s a major warhorse piece and to do that with Tim is going to be great. Once people hear it, they know they’re experiencing something profound.
“I think when you hear Mendelssohn... you’re hearing a masterpiece and an incredible player.”
The second part of the concert, Symphony No. 1 by Georges Bizet “is a very feel-good piece.”
This is a lesser-played work by Bizet, who is best known for his opera “Carmen.”
“We’re ending the season with a musical smile,” Scott said.
He’s very proud that the symphony performed a complete season, despite the pandemic, only missing one concert.
There is no charge for Saturday’s HomeStream concert, but there will be an option to make an online donation to the symphony.
For information, call the Symphony Box Office 442-1860 or visit the Symphony Box Office, located on the ground floor of the Placer Building, 21 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 100, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.