Aisslinn Nosky: “Toronto’s Eric Clapton of the violin”

May 25 - May 26

When the MCO chooses a Guest Artist-in-Residence, it’s not only because a soloist has shown rare distinction with their chosen instrument. As with Leonard Bernstein or Glenn Gould, the musician’s talents must be multi-faceted, reflecting a deep understanding of music and a charismatic ability to communicate that understanding. In short, they must be an ambassador as well as a virtuoso.

Violinist Aisslinn Nosky is such an ambassador and in her time as our Guest Artist-in-Residence has connected effortlessly with Winnipeggers. A former member of Tafelmusik, Canada’s premier period orchestra, Aisslinn speaks eloquently on the history of Baroque in the many interviews and pre-concert talks she’s done here. But even her performances feel illuminating, like a revelation. Aisslinn tends to play-conduct, meaning she’s juggling both soloing and conducting. The task, demanding she lead the piece both from inside and outside the orchestra, could only be handled by someone who also knows the piece inside out. It’s an exercise of supreme control, but one she performs so expressively we feel we are seeing the music, in all its rich polyphony, as she does. Her performances are like masterclasses for the baroque lover no matter their level of music education.

Speaking of baroque lovers, it’s unlikely they, or we, will tire anytime soon of debating the greatest of the Bach Boys, after papa Johann Sebastian. In terms of sheer influence, J.S.’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel no doubt comes out on top, with Mozart once writing that “[C.P.E.] Bach is the father, and we are the children.” But this is no reason to underestimate the genius of the other Bach Boys, who wrote reams of exquisite music, much of it very different than C.P.E. but nearly as influential. (Bach’s daughters were also gifted musically, but social norms then would have prevented their becoming professional composers.) The galante-inspired Johann Christian Bach, for instance, was also an important guide for early W.A. Mozart, having taken the young genius as a student after Mozart withstood a barrage of J.C.’s gruelling musical tests. Our late May concerts give us a sense of this complicated lineage with works by J.C., J.S., and W.A.