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Anne Akiko Meyers: The World Celebrated Concert Violinist Debuts at CSO

• Internationally renowned for her adventurous solos, concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers debuted at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in late April, producing magnificent sound with her violin, the 1741 ex-Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Gesu.

• The CSO Hall was packed on a Thursday night as Meyers performed Mason Bates’ Violin Concerto in a striking, glamorous black dress with the orchestra under conductor Leonard Slatkin. The concerto was a highly complex, 30-minute piece that she co-commissioned from the young San Francisco-based composer Bates and premiered with Slatkin at the Pittsburgh Symphony in 2012.

• Meyers’ CSO debut was a milestone in her music career, and she played the sweet as well as vibrant tones of the Violin Concerto that were well balanced with the orchestra, blending Bates’ contemporary musical language with her own beautiful and dynamic sounds. Her intense performance reflected Bates’ unique style of incorporating electronic sounds with the orchestra, and Slatkin and the CSO provided favorable and tight support to the soloist. As the performance ended, Meyers received an instantaneous standing ovation from the audience, marking her debut’s great success.

• In addition to her outstanding performance, Meyers’ violin was also a center of media attention. Built in 1741, this violin is regarded as one of the finest examples of the craftsmanship of the Italian violin maker Giuseppe Guarneri, and it once belonged to the 19th-centry Belgium composer and violinist Henri Vieuxtemps. Meyers received this violin as a lifetime loan from an anonymous donor who bought it at auction for $16 million in 2012, according to the Economist magazine.

• Born and reared in southern California, Meyers started her violin studies at the age of four and first performed at a local orchestra at seven. At the age of 11, she performed twice on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The 12-year-old Meyers made her New York Philharmonic debut under Zubin Mehta and subsequently started performing around the U.S., Japan and Europe.

• She studied with Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, Josef Gingold at Indiana University, and Felix Galimir, Masao Kawasaki and Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School in New York City.

• As a star of her generation, Meyers regularly performs as a guest soloist with many of the world’s prestigious orchestras such as the Boston Symphony, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic and Tokyo’s NHK Symphony. She has made numerous recital and chamber music appearances at major venues including Carnegie Hall in New York City.

• In February, she released her new album, “Four Seasons: the Vivaldi Album,” which marks the debut recording of her ex-Vieuxtemps violin, and includes Vivaldi’s “Triple Concerto” as well as Arvo “Part’s Passacaglia” with the English Chamber Orchestra. Since she released her first disc at the age of 18, she has produced some 30 albums, making her a top-selling recording artist.

• Meyers appears frequently on television and radio and performs at major public events. She performed George Gershwin’s “Summertime” on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” in 2010 with another of her precious violins, the Ex-Napoleon/Molitor Stradivarius built in 1697 by the Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari and valued at $3.6 million. She played the American national anthem to over 40,000 fans at Safeco Field before the Mariners-Red Sox game in Seattle in 2011.

• Meyers has roots in Japan: Her mother is from Tokyo and she spent many summers there as a child visiting her now-deceased grandmother. As a professional musician, she has toured Japan numerous times and on the day the Great Tohoku Earthquake struck northern Japan in March 2011, Meyers was in an airplane en-route to Osaka for a tour. By the time she arrived, family and friends in the U.S. had sent many e-mail messages asking if she was safe. Afterwards, she felt compelled to show the world that Japan was safe place to be, and returned in 2012 for several charity concerts although she was 8 months pregnant.
• “I just wanted to show people that it was safe to be in Japan and that I was having a good time there,” Meyers said in a phone interview.
• Meyers also participated in several charity concerts in the U.S. to help raise funds for the earthquake victims. Among the appearances was with Ryuichi Sakamoto at New York’s Japan Society.

• Meyers joined the faculty of the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin in 2009 and currently lives with her husband and two daughters in Austin.
• By Kimiyo Naka

Anne Akiko Meyers