Unconventional Daisy Jopling

By Jeane Bice
Daisy Jopling will perform at Guild Hall next Thursday at 8 p.m. as part of the Crossroads Music Showcase.

   The first time Daisy Jopling performed at Guild Hall, in December, it sealed her reappearance there. Ms. Jopling, a violinist of international acclaim, will appear at the cultural center next Thursday night, this time with the Daisy Jopling Band, an ensemble of world-class musicians with a program quite different from Ms. Jopling’s solo six months ago. But the fire in her violin performance is just as hard to ignore.
    Michael Clark of Crossroads Music and Randolph Hudson III, Guild Hall’s musical director, were united in their efforts to bring Ms. Jopling back for a night of her own at the John Drew Theater, an event that will give its audience a preview of the group’s first CD, “The Healer Within,” to be released later this summer. Few of the original compositions or arrangements have been heard outside a studio.    
    What can we expect besides Ms. Jopling’s spectacular vitality and classical precision? Her quartet can be celebrated for their own talents, with Ben Zwerin on bass, Doug Yowell on drums, and Christine Cadarette of Amagansett, a local teacher and professional studio musician, substituting for the band’s regular pianist, Daniel Minteris. Altogether, a quartet of impressive experience and virtuosity.
    Natalie Sepp, a young vocalist and student of Ms. Cadarette, will sing with Ms. Jopling, on her request. Ms. Jopling takes every opportunity to play, work, or sing with aspiring young talent.
    Any attempt to describe the sound of the Daisy Jopling Band would be a fool’s errand, unless the words came from the violinist herself. Describing the band’s forthcoming CD, she writes on the Web that “our intent with this album is to forge a new path ahead for classical music: keeping it fresh, creative, and innovative, whilst not losing the virtuosic, intellectual, and spiritual prowess of these great composers.”
    She is passionate in expressing gratitude for her band’s worldwide reception:  “. . . We are so grateful to all our fans around the world who have consistently given us standing ovations for every concert we have ever played. So far we have been to Germany, Mexico, and Turkey.” To that we can now add New York, the band’s home. 
    Next Thursday’s concert will include modernist interpretations of works by the great 18th-century violinist-composer  Antonio Vivaldi. Free rein is given to the arrangements of his “Four Seasons” concertos. These transformations of classical themes prove to be skillfully rejuvenated, invested with energy and invention. 
    “Classical rock” is a phrase imposed on classical music molded or twisted and die-cast for popular consumption. Instead, the Daisy Jopling Band finds new ways to savor classical material, while reaching beyond it. The technical mastery and musicianship of the group are plainly evident, and so is their sense of enjoyment.
    In a short time, this band has found an alchemy that has produced a prolific number of wonderful original pieces, with titles such as “Viento,” an amplification on “The Four Seasons.” Each offers refreshing surprises, purely original musical ideas, and a prevailing sense of authority over sometimes complex arrangements.                       
    Ms. Jopling, an Englishwoman, seems to radiate a field of positive energy from her very core. Hers is a storybook tale worth the telling.
    Her father, who attended Eton, was an attorney who became a noted ecologist.  He also played the viola. Her mother served as secretary to the Queen Mother at Buckingham Palace, and afterward taught French. It was a parental decision to bring their daughter up in the countryside, and they bought a house near rural Colchester, an hour’s train ride from London. It was in this neighborhood that Mr. Jopling started a local orchestra.
    By age 5, his daughter began playing the violin. Even before that, she had yearned to be allowed to play. She had an aunt who not only played the violin but also, prophetically, conducted a summer camp for string-instrument players. The child found herself amid violins, violas, and cellos before she could ride a bicycle. In a close-knit family, an aunt like that made for a year-round violin teacher. Until the age of 14, Daisy either took lessons or taught lessons in violin at the music camp.  The violin and the music written for it were fairly grafted onto her soul. 
    At 14, Ms. Jopling was invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, playing solo violin in Bach’s “Concerto for Violin and Oboe.”  She proved a fearless and radiant performer.
    She next attended the Royal College of Music, where she led the college orchestra and graduated with honors. A few gifted young musicians from all over Europe are selected to play summers with the European Youth Orchestra, which tours the world’s great cities, staying in five-star hotels, playing to audiences of 2,000 or more in venues such as Carnegie Hall. Ms. Jopling was with the youth orchestra from age 16 to 19, and later toured with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, playing with conductors and soloists who were rock stars of the classical world.
    Over the next 12 years she continued to study violin at the Vienna Conservatory, and opened the May 2005 Vienna Festival with Omara Portuondo before an audience of 30,000, prior to her co-creation of the enormously creative string trio “Trilogy.” Trilogy signed with BMG as well as RCA for a total of four very popular CD recordings.
    For the past 10 years Ms. Jopling has been a visitor to Amagansett, where an aunt of hers lives.
    Far removed from the subdued ambience of the usual instrumental quartet, the Daisy Jopling Band liberates all the possibilities of three top instrumentalists led by an extremely accomplished violinist.  That’s why it is called a “band.”
    Tickets are available online at guildhall.org or at the box office, as well as theatermania.com. Tickets cost $25, or $40 for V.I.P. seating, including an opportunity to meet the artists after the show. Tickets are also available at Crossroads Music in Amagansett Square.