Violet Grgich Performs
Lincoln Theater is delighted to present A Musical Banquet: Choice Delicacies from the 17th and 18th Centuries, on January 13th. This concert offers a feast of early chamber music featuring the Napa Valley’s own Violet Grgich performing with two ensembles, Les Violettes and Ensemble Vermillian. In keeping with the period, the audience will be seated on the stage with the musicians for an intimate evening that blends delightful music, delicious hors-d’oeuvres and Grgich Hill’s world-famous wines. From Violet to Vermillion, this performance paints a picture of early music today that touches and engages all the senses to create a unique musical moment not to be missed.
A native of Napa, Violet grew up helping her winemaker father, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, who had escaped from Communist-ruled Croatia in 1954 with $32 American dollars hidden in his shoe and a dream to find his way to California. In 1973 he made the wine that catapulted him to world fame when it won the 1976 Judgment of Paris. French judges awarded his Chardonnay the most points of any wine in the competition. The event became a turning point for Napa Valley and enabled Grgich to realize his long-held dream, to buy land and build a winery of his own. Grgich is now retiring as President of Grgich Hills Estate Winery and handing the leadership role at the winery to his daughter.
Even in this new role, Violet’s passion for early music will continue to hold a special place in her life. She holds a Master of Music (M.M.) degree, playing harpsichord and specializing in early baroque music. She has even been seen playing the accordion! She has performed at the winery and at other venues in the Valley and beyond, including Festival Napa Valley and the Berkeley Early Music Festival. She and her husband Colin Shipman, a musician and luthier, founded the early music ensemble Les Violettes with fellow musicians Corey Carleton and David Wilson.
Early music is most commonly defined as the Western music composed from the medieval period to the dawn of the Baroque era. With a dizzying array of festivals, institutions and period ensembles, early music is appealing to more people than ever and its revival has become a worldwide movement that fills today’s concert halls.
What is the heart and mystery of early music? A certain attitude is integral to this genre. Some might call it letting the music speak for itself. Performers seek to find the sounds that Queen Elizabeth heard, that Bach preferred and that resounded in the Sistine Chapel. These performances evoke the atmosphere of the original. Music written hundreds of years ago can sound as fresh and alive today as when it was first performed, and we can hear its emotional language deep inside.
Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical repertories are being re-discovered, re-interpreted, and “re-performed” with a different, more personal approach. Lutes, recorders, sackbuts, baroque violins, harpsichords, and violas da gamba excite the senses every bit as much as they did centuries ago. A movement that started in powerful opposition to modern conventions has become increasingly mainstream.
The best musicians are able to capture the essence of this genre and start a dialogue between the past and the present. They must also stay true to themselves and offer personal authenticity. Grgich and the other members of Les Violettes embody this spirit.
The group met while pursuing graduate studies at the Early Music Institute, Indiana University. The ensemble has performed at Festival Napa Valley, on Berkeley’s Barefoot Chamber Concerts series, on the SFEMS series “Sundays at California Jazz Conservatory,” as a Fringe event at numerous Berkeley Early Music Festivals, and many self-presented concerts in Berkeley and at Grgich Hills Estate in Rutherford. Although Les Violettes performs a variety of baroque repertoire, its members love the music of Buxtehude.
Ensemble Vermillian, featuring Frances Blaker, recorders; Barbara Blaker Krumdieck, cello; and David Wilson, violin, will join in this performance. This concert represents Early Music at its best, the perpetually new creation of worlds of sound and beauty. It is a rare event not to be missed!
The audience will be onstage with the artists, so only 80 seats are available. Reserve your spot now. The performance will take place at Lincoln Theater in Yountville on Saturday, January 13 at 3pm and tickets are $85. For tickets go to www.lincolntheater.org or call the box office at 707-944-9900, ext. 5802.