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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Interview: Gil Shaham, The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto

(Interviews) Permanent link

This morning, I spoke with violinist Gil Shaham.  He’s an amazing performer, with quite a collection of recordings to his name, starting on Deutsche Grammophon, and more recently on the record label he founded in 2004, Canary Classics.

I’ll have to admit, I was pretty nervous about this interview.  When I was in my teens, I saw him perform with the NJ Symphony.  I’ve also heard him on the radio countless times, and I own several of his recordings. The idea of interviewing Gil Shaham was a bit overwhelming.

Happily, Gil is interesting, friendly, and has a good sense of humor.  I really enjoyed our interview.

We talked about his upcoming projects, what it’s been like to start his own record label, and about his discovery of the Butterfly Lovers Concerto. First, he told me a bit about his current projects, musical and otherwise:

Listen to Gil Shaham talk about what he's been doing today

Then we talked about the freedom that he has found with his own record label, and how new technology has made it possible:

Listen to Gil Shaham talk about his new record label

Gil Shaham’s most recent CD, recorded with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lan Shui, includes Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and The Butterfly Lovers Concerto, by Gang Chen and Zhanhao He.  The Butterfly Lovers Concerto was written in 1959, by two students at the Shanghai Conservatory.  Gil relates the story of the piece, his first encounter with the music, and his views on how the music transcends politics.

Listen to Gil Shaham talk about The Butterfly Lovers Concerto

Listen to a brief sample of the music

We've played this recording on Music in the Afternoon, and it's certain to return to the program in the future.  If you want to pick up a copy for yourself, here's more information.

Our interview ended with one more glimpse into what we will be hearing next from Gil Shaham:

Listen to Gil Shaham talk about a future project

For more general information about Gil Shaham, especially his childhood and how he got started in music, check out this interview from Strings Magazine in 1999.


Special thanks to Max Horowitz of Crossover Media for setting up this interview. 

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