The Festival de Febrero is fast approaching, and skimming through their program reveals many musicians to be excited about.
I’m personally looking forward to seeing Alexander Sebastian, one of the world’s greatest accordion players, perform an all-Bach program. One of my friends keeps raving about David Fung’s virtuosic piano playing and another is biting her nails to see Quartetto Gelato again. But there is one performer this year who everyone is excited about: violinist Julian Rachlin.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that probably the biggest star to ever attend the festival is a violinist, given that Artistic Director Christopher Wilshere is himself a respected and accomplished violinist.
Rachlin is a musician who regularly performs in the most prestigious concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fischer Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Vienna Musikverein and the Royal Albert Hall in London.
And the Auditorio de la Ribera in Ajijic? How did this come to pass?
According to Wilshere, it all happened quickly and somewhat serendipitously. In 2016, less than a month before the 14th festival season began, he was putting the final touches of the program together. He had programmed two violinists to perform the Four Seasons of both Antonio Vivaldi and Astor Piazzola for the gala concert. But he received a message from the violinists who felt they had bitten off a little more than they could chew.
“I remember getting the message just as I was getting on an airplane in Guadalajara to go up to Canada,” says Wilshere. In a bit of a panic, he started to think about other violinists attending that year who may have performed one of these concertos. “I remember connecting in Cancun and using their internet lounge to email a few musicians, to see if anyone could substitute in. Of course I was extremely worried because they would only have a few weeks to learn the pieces and they are very challenging. Even for some of the best violinists in the world, to learn just one of those two concertos could take as long as six months.”