Lara St. John
|Lara St. John|
Lara St. John in 2007
April 15, 1971 |
Lara St. John (born on April 15, 1971, in London, Ontario) is a Canadian violinist.
Lara St. John spent her early childhood in the City of London, Ontario. As the daughter of two educators (her father was a language teacher and her mother a music instructor), she and her older brother Scott were encouraged at an early age to develop musical talents.
St. John began playing the violin at the age of two and the following year she began her first lessons with the instructor Richard Lawrence. She gave her first public performance as soloist with an orchestra by age four.
In 1976, at five years old, she began making frequent trips with her mother and brother to Cleveland, Ohio, where the young St. John worked under the instruction of Linda Cerone. In 1979, she spent a year in Paris studying with Gérard Jarry.
Accepted at the age of 13, St. John entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she later received her degree. She studied under Felix Galimir and Arnold Steinhardt. Shortly thereafter, in 1988, she moved to Russia and became the youngest post-graduate student at the Moscow Conservatory. But with the Soviet Union's decline, the Conservatory faced terminal budgetary constraints, with the result that St. John’s instructors soon defected and the students then at the conservatory were dismissed.
With her studies disrupted, St. John took the opportunity to travel throughout the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. During that time she encountered the Romani people, a cultural experience that would later be reflected in her 1997 album, "Gypsy."
St. John eventually returned to her studies and attended three different academies: the Guildhall School in London (under David Takeno), Mannes College of Music in New York (under Felix Galimir), and the New England Conservatory (NEC) in Boston (under James Buswell).
In 2000, St. John founded the artist-owned record company, Ancalagon LLC. She decided to create the company as a result of her personal dissatisfaction with the marketing and production approach of larger recording companies.
By owning her own record company, St. John was free to make artistic choices that were no longer driven by commercial considerations. The move also allowed her to become an early adopter of distribution through the Internet.
In North America, St. John has performed as a soloist with orchestras that include Cleveland, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Seattle, Brooklyn, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, the National Arts Centre, the Boston Pops and in New York’s Central Park.
St. John also performed with the Canadian touring group, "Bowfire," as a violinist in 2006-2007, touring the USA.
In Europe, her performances have been with the NDR Radiophilharmonie (Hanover), Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Marseilles Opera Orchestra, the Amsterdam Symphony and with the Mendelssohn Kammerorchester at the Gewandhaus, Leipzig.
In Asia, she has made solo appearances with the Hong Kong Symphony, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra and the Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra. St. John has also performed with the Queensland Orchestra in Australia.
St. John's violin
In 1999, an anonymous donor made a permanent loan to St. John of the 1779 “Salabue” Guadagnini. This instrument, upon which St. John currently performs, is the most important surviving example of Guadagnini’s work.
Previously, in 1997, upon winning the Canada Council Stradivarius Prize, St. John was given the two-year use of a Lyall Stradivarius built in 1702.
As an early adopter of the Internet, St. John’s musical career has been propelled by her presence online, including her website.
St. John has enjoyed significant popularity on iTunes. Her "Bach: The Six Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo" was iTunes’ best-selling double album of 2007. Her previous recording, "Bach: The Concerto Album," rose to number one in the iTunes’ classical category in 2005, shortly after appearing in the “strongly recommended” section of Gramophone. Her latest release, as a member of the group "Polkastra", titled "Apolkalypse Now," was released on iTunes in July 2009.
St. John’s music was also used by the interactive web-based video series “lonelygirl15,” which at one point had more than 110 million combined views.
Features and reviews
St. John’s work has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, CNN’s Showbiz Today, Fox News, the CBC and the Bravo! special series, "Live At the Rehearsal Hall." Three short films have been produced by Bravo! featuring St. John, "High Wire Bach," "Czardas" and "High Flying Bach." She has also appeared in People Magazine, and her work has been reviewed by publications including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and U.S. News & World Report.
St. John received attention for her somewhat controversial photo on the cover of her debut album, "Bach Works for Violin Solo" (1996). The cover features St. John holding a violin across her chest while appearing otherwise unclothed. The rationale for this cover was that unaccompanied Bach exposed the artist completely, and the cover art was designed to evoke this sentiment. The album sold 25,000 copies, a very high number by the standards of the classical music industry.
While not on tour, St. John resides in New York City, where she is reportedly a fan of the American Museum of Natural History. Her native languages are English and French, and she speaks some Russian. St. John enjoys reading J. R. R. Tolkien and spending time with reptiles.
- 1996 — Bach Works for Violin Solo, released by Well Tempered Productions
- 1997 — Gypsy, released by Well Tempered Productions
- 2002 — Bach: The Concerto Album, released by Ancalagon Records
- 2003 — Re: Bach, released by Sony Classical
- 2007 — Bach: The Six Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Solo, released by Ancalagon Records
- 2008 — Hindson: Violin Concerto; Corigliano: Suite from The Red Violin; Liszt/Martin Kennedy/St. John: Totentanz released by Ancalagon Records
- 2009 — Vivaldi: The Four Seasons / Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires released by Ancalagon Records
- 2010 — Mozart: Scott & Lara St. John / The Knights released by Ancalagon Records Winner 2011 Juno Classical Album of the Year - Large Ensemble or Soloist(s) with Large Ensemble Accompaniment
- 2011 — Bach Sonatas: Lara St. John, Violin & Marie-Pierre Langlamet, Harp released by Ancalagon Records
- 2011 — Bach: The Violin Concertos, released by Ancalagon Records
- John Terauds, "Violinist Lara St. John Keeps Herself Guessing," Toronto Star, October 22, 2009.
- Sarah Hampson, "Wild Child with a Violin," Globe and Mail (Canada), August 10, 2002.
- Arthur Kaptainis, "Lara St. John Lures Listeners," Gazette (Montreal), November 2, 1996.
- Adam Sandler, "Classics Swing to New Beat," Variety, October 21, 1996.
- Anne Midgette, "Young Women Find the Playing Field Is Far from Level," New York Times, May 27, 2004.