August 26, 2008

Beverley Minster Concert for Violinist Fiona Pears

Fiona Pears remembers the stunned faces when, at a concert in Luxembourg, the musician plugged her violin, nicknamed The Beast, into a distortion box - and created a sensation.

"That concert was one that sticks out in my mind," said the New Zealander.

"Everyone was yelling with excitement. We started out with a song I wrote on my travels which started out like an Irish ballad, then became a rock song.

"People were staring, I don't think they had seen anything like it."

She says the experience felt like a "real turning point", but the exuberant musician had long been used to confounding expectations.

A highly skilled classical violinist - who, at 12, was an orchestral soloist in her homeland - Fiona has never relied on the standard repertoire for her concerts.

Having played in jazz bands, opened for crooners including Tony Bennett, and toured with the Bermudan-born rocker Heather Nova, the violinist follows the eclectic path trailed by the likes of Nigel Kennedy.

But in Fiona's case, it seems her playing knocks on the door of something quite different.

At Beverley Minster this Friday, the violinist appears with four fellow musicians - a pianist, guitarist, bassist and drummer - to perform her first solo concert at the venue.

It's a setting she loves, having first appeared there last year with fellow New Zealander, singer Hayley Westenra.

The setting will see the full range of influences, with her compositions filtering Latin, Jazz, Celtic and classical music she has picked up on her travels around the world.

Though strangely, for someone so confident, she seems a little shy when I ask if she considers herself to be a pioneer.

"Well, there has been Nigel Kennedy and Vanessa Mae but they used electric violins, I've always preferred the acoustic.

"I like to stick with classical writers - but I do think the other styles of music I have brought in is probably a first."

A pioneer, then. Though one who is always careful to prioritise her time.

"The important thing is to have fun," she said.

"That's the way I've always approached things. When I was growing up I never wanted to spend all day inside practising - I wanted to be out and about.

"Yes, it's true that I love music - but I have always loved life as well."

Fiona Pears performs at Beverley Minster, Minster Yard North, Beverley, on Friday, at 7.30pm.Tickets cost pounds30 (limited VIP tickets), pounds20 and pounds10 (limited view). Call Beverley Tourist Information Centre (01482) 391672.

(c) 2008 Hull Daily Mail (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.