"So young and... gifted. Violinist Christopher Coritsidis proved himself to be an astoundingly expressive musical interpreter. In contrast to many of his piers who are marketed as stars and hailed as such, Mr. Coritsidis is far more than a promising talent. Above all the passionate, expressive music seems to run in the blood of this young American ... he excited the audience with his artistic maturity, technical mastery and a display of glowing intensity"
Violinist Christopher Coritsidis, along with Soprano Anastasiya Roytman & Pianist Jorge Viladoms, chats about the power of the arts in shaping the lives of underprivileged youth on AM Live.
"Musique en Images" Verbier Festival
A unique book project filled with images and interviews on the correlation of Image and Classical Music from the Verbier Festival. Mr. Coritsidis was featured inside in conversation with Martin Jaeggi and as the cover photo taken by Swiss Photographer Oliver Wüest.
Yves Lecroix: When was your first encounter with the music of J.S. Bach?
Christopher Coritsidis: Oh, I believe the first time I encountered the Solo Sonatas & Partitas of [J.S.] Bach was when I was either 11 or 12 years old and my teacher at the time, Manuel Tsynman, told me that it was time to play “real music” [laughs]. I laugh when I think back to that statement, but I certainly have grown to understand what he meant by saying “real music”- music that has rich emotional and intellectual content, as well as an immortal quality… so are the works composed by J.S Bach.
YL: When you first began to study the solo works of Bach at the age of eleven, did you realize that you were working on what many violinists consider to be the most difficult set of works for the instrument?
CC: At that age, of course I did not have the understanding for the pieces as I do today. It took me quite sometime to fully appreciate the masterpieces Bach had written and I’m sure I will always be in the process of re-discovering and re-learning phrases, articulations etc. as time passes and the deeper I delve into these pieces. It’s a mountain without a summit – you go and go and go, yet somehow never reach that peak; great music is like that.
YL: What inspired the project?
CC: The challenge, of course! [smiles] I’ve never been somebody who has said “Oh, it’s too difficult” and something like “BACK2BACK” really fascinated me – three pieces: one sonata by Bach and two 20th century sonatas composed through his influence some 200 years later. For me, it’s clear that the solo sonatas by E. Ysaye and B. Bartok would have not been composed without Bach’s earlier works as a guideline. The spirit of Bach is everywhere throughout these works and, most specifically, in the ‘Fuga’ movements. Bach is the king of the Fugue, and thus both composers wrote their own dedication to him in these movements.
YL: Understandably so, the way of interpreting and playing the violin has changed dramatically since the time of Bach. Were you concerned about the authenticity of you interpretation in terms of baroque articulation, gut strings...?
CC: I had done a fair amount of research, including working with a Baroque bow, in order to help me best understand how violinists actually played these pieces centuries ago. It certainly brought with it a new perspective and many new ideas, particularly in executing double-stops and long-bowed phrases. I, personally, though don’t perform Bach with a Baroque-style set-up as I believe the necessary period qualities can be attained with our modern instruments.
YL: Have all these pieces been staples of your repertoire for quite sometime or are some more recent additions?
CC: The Solo Sonata in g minor by Bach has been in my repertoire for many years and is, perhaps, my favorite solo work for violin… outside of the one-movement Chaconne. Ysaye’s first solo sonata has been in my hands and mind for some time now, although I’ve never publicly performed the work or recorded it and the Solo Sonata of Bartok is new for this recording and future recitals. The most frightening piece for me to tackle was surely the Bartok since it has such a specific language to the composer, not to mention the extreme difficulty of the piece. I’d loved it from the beginning but it was not a piece which came to my playing and intellect naturally- I had to really work to gain a firm footing on Bartok.
YL: When you have completed L’hommage à J.S. Bach, what do you think you will have learned for this project?
CC: As with all musical experiences, I have learned to see the constant evolution of music and to appreciate each and every composer’s genius. By studying Ysaye and Bartok, I have rediscovered elements of Bach and vice-versa. I am learning that finding one’s true interpretation of a piece is a continuous process that will not end here or in ten years from now, but will change as I change as an artist and human being.
-Y. Lecroix, Paris
The Latest News in the World of Classical Music on HELLOSTAGE.COM
'The Greek Star' in Conversation with Violinist Christopher Coritsidis
Q: Where are you from?
I grew up in New York, USA.
Q: What is your background in music?
I began violin lessons through my local elementary school, which offered instrumental lessons starting in the third grade. My teacher then saw potential in me early on and recommended me to a local violin professor who emigrated from Russia, Manuel Tsynman. In 2005, I continued my studies at the Juilliard School and in 2007, I moved to Vienna, Austria to study with the world-renowned violin pedagogue, Prof. Boris Kuschnir. I have been actively performing internationally since my debut over a decade ago and had taken an interest in social work after the Septemeber 11 Attacks in 2001.
Q: Do you have a favorite composer?
No, I'm not willing to give my heart to just one [laughs]. I am, though, constantly seeking out new, undiscovered composers who will pen the masterpieces of tomorrow... while I continue to immerse myself in the worlds of Bach and Mozart. The magic of classical music is that there is always something new to discover because of its constant evolution- whether it be a piece written 200 years ago or six months ago.
Q: How did you get involved with this benefit?
Since Maria [Pikoula] and I have Greek roots, we thought to reflect that in our project- both artistically and socially.
We thought of the various programs/organizations already active within the community and decided to dedicate our resources to one in particular- the GOARCH St. Basil Academy.
Q: Are you familiar with St. Basil's Academy? A life-saving place for many, why is it so important for people to support?
I became familiar with the work of the academy after my mother's first visit to St. Basil's in 2009. Her account of all the wonderful work being done for the children on this estate in Garrison, NY sparked an interest in me to learn more about the activities and programs happening there on a day-to-day basis. I was blown away as I discovered that St. Basil's does not only provide the physical essentials of everyday life (i.e. food, clothing etc.) for the children in their care, but also helps build the spiritual and emotional strength all children need for healthy, happy and successful lives. Supporting such an institution is of such great importance, not just because of the life-changing work they do, but also because of what the St. Basil Academy represents and teaches all of us as a community. Keeping institutions such as St. Basil's going for decades to come will not simply aid hundreds, thousands of children in need- it will serve as a reminder to us on the importance of compassion and charity.
Violinist and Social Activist Christopher Coritsidis teams up with highly talented pianist, Maria Pikoula, for an evening of fundraising and great music. All proceeds will be donated on behalf of Mr. Coritsidis and Ms. Pikoula to the St. Basil Children's Academy, an institution that has been aiding children in need for over 50 years.
For further information on the St. Basil's Academy: www.saintbasilacademy.org
ArtPassions Magazine Feature
Violinist Christopher Coritsidis featured in 'ArtPassions', a Swiss Magazine reporting on happening within the International Arts Community.