Cristina Zacharias' 'My Musik'

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Dec 18, 2013

Cristina Zacharias' 'My Musik'


Inspired by the CBC Radio 2 programme “This is My Music,” we have launched a series in which Tafelmusik musicians offer their reflections on various pieces of music that play a special part in their lives. view full listing

Cristina Zacharias, violin
Cristina Zacharias is a native of Manitoba, and moved to Toronto after completing a Masters Degree at McGill University. She joined Tafelmuisk in 2004, and plays with other ensembles in Toronto and farther afield. She works behind the scenes at Tafelmusik as Assistant Librarian, Personnel Coordinator, and Chamber Ensemble Coordinator at the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute.
Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin: Sigiswald Kuijken
The first early music CD I ever bought is a classic — the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin performed by Sigiswald Kuijken. I listened to this recording a lot as a young student, and it played a huge role in shaping how I hear and understand this amazing music that is the backbone of the violin repertoire. It also sparked my interest in learning more about period performance and historical instruments.  You can imagine how excited I was to have the chance to work with Sigiswald when he was a guest with Tafelmusik a number of years ago, although I was too shy to let him know how influential his recording had been for me.  
Side-note:  In re-reading my selections before submitting them, I realize that this is the point in my list where text and lyrics take over. No matter what the genre, ever since I was very young, I have always listened first to the words of the song, and tried to figure out what they mean, why they are in that order, and how the music supports or contrasts with what is being said. An interesting and unintended theme for the next four selections!
Paul Simon Rhythm of the Saints 
One of my favourite albums of all time from the non-classical world is Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints. I love the rhythm and poetry on this album, and find that it’s one of those rare recordings that never sounds dated. It was released in 1990, right around the time I was spending many long hours in the car driving to and from violin lessons, driving my sister to cello and piano lessons, driving to orchestra rehearsals, etc. Good CDs that you could sing along to and that didn’t get boring were very important for alleviating the tedious routine of long drives, and this one fit that requirement perfectly. I think this CD had to be transferred to a cassette tape at the time, since the car didn’t have a CD player. In my family we often referred to really good albums as “car tapes,” meaning they were worthy of repeated listening, and of filling a coveted spot in the glove compartment. 
Brahms Requiem
My musical upbringing was very much centred on vocal and choral music, and I still find that the music that moves me the most always includes voices. The Brahms Requiem is an incredibly powerful piece, and I love listening to it as much as I love playing it. That said, it’s not a piece I listen to frequently, because it’s such an emotional journey.  It really belongs to the special category of music that is reserved for specific emotional occasions, when the music expresses emotions better than we can. This piece is definitely on my personal short list of works I hope to play with Tafelmusik one day.
Bach Cantata 61
I’m so fortunate week after week to have the opportunity to play incredible music.  There’s almost always a particular tune from each concert that gets stuck in my head for a week or so, and sometimes these tunes last a lot longer. Ever since a concert in Carmel, California last July,  I find myself listening to the soprano aria “Öffne dich” from Bach’s Cantata 61 over and over. My current favourite recording is Gardiner’s version with Joanne Lunn, Tafelmusik’s soprano soloist at last year’s Messiah (and returning for Handel's Saul in February). I love the interplay between the obbligato cello part and the gorgeous soprano melody. Sometimes the best moments in concerts are when I get to put down my violin and enjoy having the best seat in the house for an aria such as this one.
John K. Samson Provincial  & Christine Fellows Femmes de chez nous
Although I have lived elsewhere for more than fifteen years, I’m still a prairie girl at heart, and occasionally I get homesick! When that happens, I turn to my favourite Winnipeg songwriters, John K. Samson and Christine Fellows. With their unique and individual voices, both have an incredible capacity to represent place powerfully and personally through their music. For the track of the week, I recommend "Heart of the Continent" from John K. Samson’s recent album, Provincial. For those not familiar with Winnipeg’s highway billboards, “heart of the continent” is the new city slogan, a significant improvement over the old version from my childhood, “one great city.”

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