Lara St. John is a Canadian-born violinist who likes to create new interpretations of classical music. She picked up a violin at the age of 2 and has stuck with it ever since. She created a fun video with dancer/fiddler Stephanie Cadman in which she uses the music of Bach to accompany many styles of dance in different venues across Toronto (check it out below).
Q&A With Lara St. John
Q:Tell us a bit about yourself
A: I am a Canadian violinist and record label owner. I began my label in 1999 because I like to have complete creative control. I commission many new works every year from composers. I won a Juno. I sometimes work with jazz pianists, and I played the 25th anniversary of Astor Piazzolla’s Central Park concert with his original pianist. I have a polka band. I collect Eastern European tunes and transcribe them. I also have the world’s cutest iguana.
Q: What inspired you to create the video?
A: Stephanie and I have been always intrigued by how similar Bach dances are to traditional folk dances – just with a few more modulations! Since Stephanie is a fiddler as well as a dancer, she is able to create dynamics, ritards and expression with her feet, in many different styles. This Gavotte is a Rondeau, and so she did a visual representation of it – always returning to the A section in Baroque dress and dance, and going through Astaire style, Scottish Highland dancing, Irish dance and finally, ghetto tap for the B,C,D, and E sections respectively.
Q:When did you begin to play the violin? Why did you choose that instrument?
A: I began violin when I was two years old. I’m not sure that at two, one makes choices, exactly, but I did choose to stick with it.
Q:What is your goal when creating these types of videos?
A: We want people to enjoy this music, and having Stephanie interpret it in a physical manner, in an updated yet faithful representation of what they once were – dances – is a novel way of presenting them. Many musicians have commented on how they think of the ones they have seen us do in a different light now – with more awareness of the beauty stemming from the simplicity of folk dance (we have another one coming in a bit! A jig/Giga this time).