Get ready to get wild … at a violin recital

Violinist Monica Germino will lie down on the floor and play. She'll play while running around the stage. She'll set her instrument aside and sing. Anything to make the good old violin recital interesting.

"I think it's hard to watch a solo violinist for an hour," Germino says. "I want to make it so people are taken on a journey and they aren't necessarily staring at a violinist for the whole time."

Germino has a recital Thursday night at USF, where she is a visiting professor of violin, and it will not be a run-of-the-mill program. Billed as "Plugged and Unplugged," it will include violin, electric violin, voice, soundtrack, effects, movement, film and installation.

The music will be by contemporary composers such as Louis Andriessen, Jacob TV and David Dramm — all from the Netherlands, where Germino also lives — plus John Rea and Nicholas Brown. There will also be a movement from a Bach Partita.

"The reason I play solo Bach in almost every program is to remind everybody that this is still just a violin," she says.

Germino grew up in Virginia and graduated from the New England Conservatory and Yale before being awarded a grant to study in the Netherlands in 1993. She fell in love with the thriving new music scene in Amsterdam.

"The things that were going on there just blew my mind, and I had to stay for another year, and that became another year and another year," she says. "I ended up staying for good. So now I'm Dutch and American with a passport for both countries."

In one of Germino's concerts in the Netherlands recently, she performed in a cooking school, both playing violin and reciting poetry. "I really like to work in different mediums. I really like going out to the edge of what I can do," she says.

Germino has long been associated with Andriessen, a leading figure in contemporary music, and she was instrumental in USF having the composer in residence for this month's Robert Helps Festival. She organized the excellent "Late Night with Louis" concert last week at the school.

"I'd always been a Stravinsky kind of person, and when I heard Louis' music, I couldn't believe it existed," she says. "I feel his music takes up where Stravinsky left off."

Several works on Germino's program feature electric violin. One is Fuzzbox Logic by Dramm, whose music was described by a Dutch newspaper as occupying "the groundbreaking terrain between Charles Ives, Jimi Hendrix and Lou Reed."

Germino says Dramm's piece explores "a phenomenon called difference tones. When you play two notes at the same time and run them through a distortion pedal you get a third tone that is almost equal in strength."

This effect promises a loud, discordant sound that will probably make Reed's famously abrasive Metal Machine Music seem like a picnic. "I'm a little afraid it will run people out of the hall," Germino says. "But you know what? It's going to be worth it, and it's only nine minutes."

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8716. He blogs on Critics Circle at blogs.tampabay.com/arts.

IF YOU GO

'Plugged & Unplugged'

Violinist Monica Germino performs a recital at 8 p.m. Thursday at Theatre 2 at the University of South Florida in Tampa. $8-$12. (813) 974-2323; www.arts.usf.edu.

Get ready to get wild … at a violin recital 02/23/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 7:00am]

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