The MCR Interview

A Conversation with Anne Akiko Meyers

On behalf of the Music City Review (MCR), I had a chance to ask world-renowned violinist Anne Akiko Meyers (AAM) a few questions about her upcoming performance in Nashville. The following is a (slightly edited) transcription of those questions and her responses:

MCR: We are quite excited for your upcoming concert in Nashville this February! Have you had a chance to visit “Music City U.S.A.” before this?

AAM: I have been to Nashville many times and performed the Barber concerto with the Nashville Symphony and Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero, just before he was named music director. I returned to perform Bates [2013] and Bernstein [2017], and very excited to be back on the Schermerhorn stage with an epic new concerto, Fandango, by Arturo Márquez.

MCR: I understand that Márquez’s Fandango, was written especially for you, do you know him personally? If so, how did you meet? What were the circumstances of the composition?

Anne Akiko Meyers (Photo: David Zentz)

AAM: When I heard Márquez’s Danzon No. 2, I was blown away by the use of colors, rhythm, and form. In 2018, I reached out to Arturo and asked if he would be interested in writing a violin concerto incorporating Mariachi traditions and his curiosity was piqued! He told me that he had this violin concerto in his heart for 25 years and couldn’t wait to write it. The premiere took place with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 2021, and I have performed it at Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall, Mexico City, Princeton, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Seattle (with Giancarlo Guerrero), and Tucson since! Audiences, musicians, and critics are absolutely in love with it. It brings the house down!

MCR: Which parts or characteristics of your playing do you think Márquez wanted to bring to the fore?

AAM: He mentioned that he listened to my Mendelssohn recording a lot and you hear lots of lyricism, beautiful high notes and singing qualities to it, not to mention fun and challenging rhythms.

MCR: What are your favorite parts? What should we listen for?

AAM: Fandango takes its name from flamenco and is a joyful, soulful dance. The concerto is in three movements with the first movement being 20 minutes in duration, much like the first movement of the Tchaikovsky Concerto with its challenging pacing, technical demands on the violinist. The second movement, Plegaria, meaning Prayer, feels like the heart of the concerto and is lyrically beautiful. Fandanguito, the last movement is an absolute tour de force, with millions of notes, demonic speed, double stops, cadenzas, and playful melodies. I most likely need a gurney at the end of the 35-minute acrobatic concerto……

Anne Akiko Meyers (Photo: David Zentz)

MCR: Apart from the marvelous YouTube video of Fandango with the LA Phil, may we look forward to a professional recording of this work?

AAM: Yes! Stay tuned for more information later this year.

MCR: What is it like to work with Maestro Guerrero?

AAM: Giancarlo Guerrero is a larger-than-life force of nature. An incredible musician and brilliant collaborator! I love the passion and heart he bestows to everything he does. He is also a champion of living composers, and always has a sympathetic ear to my ideas.

MCR: As a champion of living composers, you have worked with some very well-known living composers, yet you have also recorded masterpieces by the greats—Mendelssohn, Bruch, Strauss, Elgar etc. What, in your opinion, is the state of the classical music canon for violin. Where is it headed? Where do you hope to take it?  

AAM: It has been my privilege to collaborate with so many of today’s great living composers. To birth new music, which is now enjoyed in the great concert halls around the world by audiences and musicians is such a tremendous gift.  Performing it soon with the Nashville Symphony and Giancarlo Guerrero in the magnificent Schermerhorn Symphony Center will be a great thrill!

Anne Akiko Meyers appears on February 3 and 4 with the Nashville Symphony. Tickets may be purchased here


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