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Charlotte Symphony Teams with Punk Violinist

Jan 3, 2018

Even in Charlotte, the would-be crown of the New South, you occasionally hear the grumblings backstage -- or in the boardrooms of our leading performing arts companies: "Our audiences are graying."

Who you gonna call? For Charlotte Symphony, this week's startling answer is their guest soloist, Aisslinn Nosky, a redheaded violinist -- sometimes fire-engine red, when the mood hits -- who usually rocks a punk hairdo.

A blatant appeal, you could say, to younger people who might otherwise be wary of a formal concertgoing experience or are just plain classical-averse. But that's not even half of the Nosky story. Far from dolling up or dumbing down the music she plays, Nosky is highly regarded as one of today's prime exponents of music from composers as varied as Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Philipp Telemann and Franz Joseph Haydn.

Born in Canada, Nosky has strong ties to three of the most important groups in North America that specialize in this music. She's a core member of the Toronto-based I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble and the concertmaster at Boston's Handel and Haydn Society. Her 10 years with the famed Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra culminated in the 2015-16 season when she toured as their featured soloist.

Although Nosky will be playing a modern violin when she teams up this weekend for a concert showcasing works by Bach, Telemann and Mendelssohn -- while headlining Vivaldi's Four Seasons -- she usually plays authentic period instruments when she performs and records with H+H or Tafelmusik. And she dismisses the notion that there's some kind of disconnect between her punkish stage persona and her punctilious preservation of authentic practices.

"I can see how on the surface it might strike some people as a jarring contradiction," Nosky admits. "What our current audience may not know is that the idea of classical music being a highbrow/conservative art form was born entirely in the 19th century.

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By Perry Tannenbaum, Creative Loafing Charlotte