Newtown Violinist Tapped To Back Josh Groban, Il Volo
Newtown resident Lindsey Jones, an expert violinist working toward her Master's Degree in violin performance and conducting at the University of South Florida at Tampa, got a little break from her usual routine a few weeks ago when she was recruited to play in string ensembles backing multi-million selling vocalist Josh Groban and the internationally acclaimed Italian pop trio Il Volo.Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, which is described as an electropop opera by composer Dave Malloy based on War and Peace.
Groban utilized the talents of Ms Jones for his current Stages Tour, where he is performing selections from various Broadway shows ahead of his debut on the Great White Way this fall as Pierre in
Jones has been a fixture locally in concerts and performances dating back to her childhood as a student of Suzuki Education Talent School in Sandy Hook, to her participation in the pit orchestra during all four years at Newtown High School, and in a number of recent shows presented by Families United for Newtown (FUN), a social and recreational program for children on the Autism spectrum, which was established by her family following the untimely passing of her 16-year-old brother Tyler in 2009.
After her graduation from Western Connecticut State University in 2012, Ms Jones took some time deciding where she wanted to pursue her master's, selecting the program in Tampa where she studies under the direction of Dr Carolyn Stuart. After just a short time in the program, she was recruited as a substitute violinist for the Florida Orchestra.
But then one day in early February, she received the call offering her the first violin spot playing with Groban at four area concerts in Orlando, Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale that were scheduled in late February and early March.
"An alumni who does these gigs was asked by the person coordinating these orchestra assignments for touring artists for a few names, and that person asked my professor, who recommended me," Ms Jones said following her March 10 show with Il Volo.
Ms Jones said despite the familiar Broadway tunes being performed by Groban, the string arrangements, as well as the charts she was asked to play with Il Volo, were extremely complex.
"The charts were sent to us beforehand, so there was time to work through some of the more challenging trouble spots," she recalled. "Since I was playing the first violin parts, there were a lot of tricky, really high notes."
In order to prepare, Ms Jones said, she made play lists for each of the shows and coordinated the sheet music that was advanced to her online.
She said each artist provided a decidedly different experience.
"The Josh Groban series was performed with no headphones and no click track, so that meant a lot more working with and engaging with the conductor," Ms Jones said. "Josh Groban was staged somewhat distant from the orchestra, which had about 25 members."
The Il Volo gig was much more like a rock band show, she said.
"There was a lot more presence of guitar and drums, and the orchestra was a lot smaller. Where the Groban orchestra had six violins, the Il Volo setup had just three," she said.
Being fluent in Italian, Ms Jones was privy to some of the between song chatter among Il Volo's youthful members Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble.
"I could just sit back and listen to them during rehearsal," she said. "Sometimes they made me laugh when they acted jaded from performing the same songs over and over in every city. I don't think they thought anyone could understand them."
The Il Volo show was also different because the conductor served as music director and pianist, so there was little actual conducting going on.
After these two on-call experiences, Ms Jones said she is more confident that she could answer the call for any number of artists who might require violin accompaniment when they are touring the region.
"I like and listen to all types of music, so when I get the call I'll just figure it out," she said.
Currently, Ms Jones is busily preparing for her one-hour spring recital, scheduled for April 2, when she will be performing material from Bach and Dvorak.
And now that she is "on the list," Ms Jones is looking forward to lending her violin skills to other classical, pop and rock shows featuring string sections that are touring through South Florida in the coming months - as long as it doesn't interfere with her studies.
"It's all going to come down to my school schedule," the dedicated student concluded.