THE NEW YORK TIMES: ‘… a champion of contemporary music … the impressive and courageous violinist Monica Germino … ‘Muted’ may be the quietest piece ever written for violin, but it was riveting in this intimately powerful performance."
THE STRAD: ‘…a violinist who leaves no elements to chance… Monica Germino gave a veritable master class on the use of violin and electronics, packed with sophistication and showmanship.’
THE NEW YORK TIMES: ‘…a gloriously free and wild fiddle tantrum in which virtuosity and mischief-making went hand in hand.’
The Sunday Times (UK): ‘Her virtuosity was exhilarating’ ‘...American-born, Netherlands-based, she is a striking presence whose recital was an integrated mixed-media event.’
STRINGS MAGAZINE: ‘Whether she was playing the violin, electric violin, adapted violin, whispering, talking, or singing, Germino conveyed her passion with tour de force virtuosity and burning vulnerability.’
FEAST OF MUSIC: ‘Throughout her set, she employed a series of pedals and processors that made her acoustic squeal like a Fender (Goebbels’ Bagatellen) and her electric roar like heavy machinery (Michael Gordon’s Industry). But, it was when her voice kicked in on top that her astonishing range was revealed…’
DE VOLKSKRANT: ‘…as if Jimmy Page or another legendary guitar God appeared…’
SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL: ‘In a program for violin and electronics, Amsterdam-based Monica Germino showed the power of savvy programming, with Frank van der Weij using technology about as perfectly as it gets.’ -Reviewers’ Choices for Best Musical Events of 2013
Trouw (NL): ‘As a magical central point, violinist Monica Germino leads the spectator through the choreography… Germino’s presence is inescapable. Her electric violin sounds are truly bewitching.’
"On Monday night, the Andriessen celebration continued at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, where the impressive and courageous violinist Monica Germino gave the American premiere of “Muted,” a 40-minute, musical-theatrical work written for her by four composers: Michael Gordon, David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Mr. Andriessen.
Ms. Germino was a champion of contemporary music, including experimental works with percussion and electronics, when, a few years ago, she was diagnosed with a hearing condition that rendered her extremely sensitive to sound. She must avoid exposure to high volume of any kind.
“Muted” was the response of four composer colleagues. The piece involves very soft sounds played on an array of violins, from traditional to experimental, and used various standard mutes (brass pieces fitted on the bridge of the instrument to muffle sound). During parts of ”Muted,” Ms. Germino also sang or spoke fanciful texts by Don Marquis and moved around a central, light-projecting circular tower of aluminum rings (designed by Floriaan Ganzevoort).
While wistful, the music shifts through moods and styles that alternately suggest tender folk songs, gently swaying dances, bursts of hushed busyness, bluesy melodies, even twangy hints of hoedown. “Muted” may be the quietest piece ever written for violin, but it was riveting in this intimately powerful performance."
A violinist with a sensitivity to sound will perform ‘Muted,’ a special, quieter piece for audiences in Brooklyn
By Charles Passy. Oct. 6, 2018
click for WSJ video excerpt
In her decadeslong career, the violinist and contemporary-music specialist Monica Germino has worked alongside major composers, co-founded an international ensemble and performed at venues world-wide.
But in recent years, her life has been derailed by a disorder that connects in the most direct way to her profession: Ms. Germino has hyperacusis, a sensitivity to sound.
The violinist’s solution? She is going the quiet route, performing music specifically written for her with the auditory condition in mind, and asking audiences to join her on the journey.
On Monday and Tuesday, Ms. Germino, who is based in Amsterdam, will offer the U.S. premiere of “Muted,” a piece co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic with four other musical organizations, at National Sawdust, the Brooklyn venue that specializes in innovative work.
“It’s borne out of necessity,” said Ms. Germino of the piece. But at the same time, “something incredible can happen” musically from such circumstances, she said.
The connection to the Philharmonic stems from the fact that it is currently honoring the Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, who is a fellow countryman of Jaap van Zweden, the orchestra’s newly installed music director. Mr. Andriessen, who is married to Ms. Germino, is one of four composers who contributed to “Muted.”
But it is another contributing composer, New York-based Michael Gordon, who came up with the idea for the work. When he learned in 2016 that Ms. Germino had stopped performing altogether because of her disorder, “I said, ‘You can play quiet music. We’ll write you the quietest piece ever written,’” Mr. Gordon recalled.
Ms. Germino helped the process along by using special violins that are designed to play at a softer level or adapting a traditional violin with the use of mutes – essentially, a device that causes the strings to vibrate less. She has also had a new instrument, dubbed a whisperviolin, made for her.
The composers involved explain that “Muted” isn’t necessarily difficult for audiences to hear. Mr. Gordon said concertgoers just need to pay closer attention. He likens it to stepping into a dimly lit room and adjusting your eyes until you can see clearly once again.
While Ms. Germino may have found a way to adapt to her situation, she is far from the only musician to contend with hyperacusis, which is often associated with exposure to loud sound. Indeed, musicians are “fundamentally at higher risk” for the condition, said Bryan Pollard, founder and president of Hyperacusis Research, a U.S. nonprofit organization.
At its most extreme, the condition can cause those who suffer from it to experience pain when they hear noise or certain sounds, say experts. Ms. Germino said in her case, she is just “very sensitive” to loudness.
But she had been advised by auditory professionals to quit playing or wear earplugs, lest she risk damaging her hearing. Neither of those options proved suitable, so that led to her current solution.
Regardless of her condition, Ms. Germino thinks there may be a broader benefit to turning down the volume and seeing the value in the quiet.
“We are so swamped with sound and overstimulated,” she said.
"Whether she was playing the violin, electric violin, adapted violin, whispering, talking, or singing, Germino conveyed her passion with tour de force virtuosity and burning vulnerability."
"Violinist Monica Germino put her stamp on the Andriessen at 75 festival in and around Washington, DC, earlier this year with a violin concerto named after Vivaldi’s muse... and a violin recital in a charged environment of electronics, art installations, and images with punk-rock bassist/turned-sound-designer Frank van der Weij. Armed with a Joannes Baptista Ceruti (Cremona, 1802), on permanent loan from the Elise Mathilde Foundation, and a custom-made electric “violectra,” the Amsterdam-based American/Dutch musician played a major role...READ MORE
De Volkskrant ****
4 stars for new CD: Solos for Virtuosi solo works by Louis Andriessen
read more (in Dutch)
"...15 solo pieces released on the Attacca label...the musical level is high across the board, but a highlight is Xenia, performed by the singing violinist Monica Germino."
- Frits van der Waa, 4 June 2014
SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL
Reviewers’ Choices for Best Musical Events of 2013
"In a program for violin and electronics at the Austrian Cultural Forum, Amsterdam-based Monica Germino showed the power of savvy programming, with Frank van der Weij using technology about as perfectly as it gets."
'…a gloriously free and wild fiddle tantrum in which virtuosity and mischief-making went hand in hand.' (Julia Wolfe's recent work, With a blue dress on)
'…the American-Dutch violinist Monica Germino presented the fruits of a very different partnership: violin and electronics. Together with her regular collaborator, the electronic sound designer Frank van der Weij, she performed a half-dozen new works by American and European composers in which Mr. van der Weij’s digital wizardry amplified, distorted, fragmented and multiplied the voice of the solo violin. Part of the fun lay in the discovery of the resulting cool and unusual sounds, which ranged from Jimi Hendrix to radio-jamming signals and fire engine sirens. But Ms. Germino’s interest clearly lies in the dramatic possibilities of a partnership that is ultimately focused on empowering the violinist.'
'...an arresting duality of sound and image...psychologically dark and unsettling...earthy and sharp pizzicati...snapping brain synapses...tapped, stomped, played, hummed and sang...a gloriously free and wild fiddle tantrum…virtuosity and mischief-making...digitally processed harmonics...emotional highlight...sonic mayhem...astonishingly rich...virtuosic violin line...rock ’n’ roll moment...binary fire-engine siren...constantly changing sonic environment...juicy double-stopped glissandi...electronic fireworks...affecting vulnerability…'exhilarating’
The Strad Magazine
Sophistication and showmanship - by Bruce Hodges
"…Monica Germino gave a veritable masterclass on the use of violin and electronics, packed with sophistication and showmanship."
"a violinist who leaves no elements to chance"
"electronics wizard Frank van der Weij"
Review about Monica and Frank van der Weij
Los Angeles Times (USA):
Two Louis Andriessen premieres at Green Umbrella - by Mark Swed
"There is no question that violinist Monica Germino (was a) muse for a curious violin concerto, ‘La Girò.’ The dramatic as well as musical talents [of Monica Germino] clearly motivated Andriessen’s shockingly fanciful score, which received [a] riveting U.S. premiere Tuesday at a Green Umbrella concert by the L.A. Phil New Music Group."
“('La Girò' is) like a jazzy and minimalist take on a Baroque violin concerto...Germino, who is a rapt soloist, is also wired with a mike. She speaks as she plays. She describes Vivaldi, with whom she may or may not have had an affair, as a sad figure with dowdy clothes and dyed hair. The violinist reveals a terrible dream in which a family member is shot every time she makes a mistake. At the end, Vivaldi has her play 'like a shrieking seagull'."
De Volkskrant (NL) – 4 stars:
Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam (NL)
- by Biëlla Luttmer, 14 January 2012
"The soloist was the American-Dutch, amplified violinist Monica Germino, who also possesses quite a voice. She played Andriessen’s plaintive thirds with an unsentimental, crystal-clear tone. With La Girò, Andriessen has written a piece that goes beyond a concerto. Magnificently written, powerfully performed."
NRC Handelsblad (NL):
"Andriessen exceptionally powerful in diaphanous violin glissandi" Asko|Schönberg, conductor Reinbert de Leeuw, soloist Monica Germino
- by Joep Stapel, 14 January 2012
[click for complete review](
"The absolute high point came at the end of the concert: the Netherlands premiere of Louis Andriessen’s violin concerto La Girò. Soloist Monica Germino, to whom the work is dedicated, not only played violin; she also sang and spoke, often simultaneously."
"Anna Girò was the stage name of Vivaldi’s muse: a very young, sensational singer. Once in awhile, a hint of Vivaldi shimmered through Andriessen’s notes. Theatrically, the varying aspects of artistic perfection formed the main subject. From the first measure, Andriessen showed complete control, achieving maximum effect with a minimum of material. The shrieking seagulls at the end, the long notes and diaphanous glissandi get under one’s skin: frightful and exceptionally powerful.”
The Sunday Times (UK):
[click for complete review](www.entertainment.timesonline.co.uk
"Her virtuosity was exhilarating"
"...American-born, Netherlands-based, she is a striking presence whose recital was an integrated mixed-media event. Her "appearance" was a large part of the point. Dark-haired and dressed in stylish black, she was a focus of attention not only on the platform, on which she moved around a good deal, spending time fixing her electronics, but on film (in the composer Nicholas Brown's The Bravery of Women). Her every movement, every grin, was theatre, and when she was preparing the next piece, a commentary by the composers (often mentioning her) was heard on tape."
The Observer (UK):
Nowt like a good tune - by Anthony Holden, 25 Nov 2007
"the dazzling violinist Monica Germino…"
"..Huddersfield's real stars are its performers, as further demonstrated by the dazzling violinist Monica Germino… she and other virtuosi outshone the massed ranks of composers…"
The Daily Telegraph (UK):
-Ivan Hewett, 19 Nov 2007
click for complete review
"Monica Germino, a vividly personable player on the electric and 'normal' violin, works with a sound engineer to transform her violin at one moment into a colossally deep double bass, the next into a wailing electric guitar. But she played "real" pieces of music, including a Bach Sarabande alongside a post-modern Sarabande by Louis Andriessen, and Industry by the American composer Michael Gordon, a tour-de-force of slowly rising intensity."
"...musicians and "players" of electronic gear simply coming together to make music - the results were often entrancing."
The Times (UK):
"[In] the rest of her clever, enjoyable programme [plugged & unplugged], Bach shook hands with gutsy display pieces by Louis Andriessen and Heiner Goebbels and the curdled harmonies and screeches of Michael Gordon's Industry."
###Press about the US premiere of Julia Wolfe's With a blue dress on at the 2013 Bang on a Can Marathon:
- a piece for live violin/voice, 4 prerecorded violins & 4 prerecorded voices, performed by one player & one sound designer.
The New York Times:
"...a gloriously free and wild fiddle tantrum in which virtuosity and mischief-making went hand in hand."
- by Chris McGovern
"Performing the US Premiere of Julia Wolfe’s “With a blue dress on”, violinist Monica Germino basically reminded me of something that combines the homegrown primal music of Iva Bittova with the electro-acoustics of Todd Reynolds or Neil Dufallo. An amazing tour de force of progressive fiddling and paraphrasing."
BANG ON A CAN MARATHON 2013 LIVE BLOG:
- Rob Deemer
"...the beautiful solo violin performance of Monica Germino. I’ve seen a fair helping of works for solo instrument and electronics, but Julia Wolfe’s With a blue dress on may be my new favorite…a major work for solo violin (expecting the violinist to sing)…" "Germino was awe-inspiring in her performance of the work and the sound design by Frank van der Weij was just right…definitely one of the highlights of the concert..."
Het Parool (NL):
Live at the Bimhuis, Monia Germino Carte Blanche - 15 December 2011
'…a fascinating evening, packed with energy and theater…a high point was Germino performing [Arnoud Noordegraaf] in a duel with her projected self [on screen]...the apotheosis was a piece by German composer Heiner Goebbels…an explosive and formidable performance…an incandescent end to the evening'
PRESS ABOUT ROB ZUIDAM's BOSCH REQUIEM:
NRC Handelsblad (NL):
- by Frits van der Waa >"The Dies Irae was a stunning rock solo by electric violinist Monica Germino..."
De Volkskrant (NL):
...as if Jimmy Page or another past guitar God appeared..."
Muziek van Nu (NL)
"...violinist Monica Germino embraced the role of the Grim Reaper...together with her lacerating electric violin, she gave a demonic impression of the Day of Vengeance."
Eindhoven Dagblad (NL):
Violinist in a dialogue with radio waves - 4 stars
Annie Gosfield's 'Long Waves and Random Pulses'
- by René van Peer >"Violinist Monica Germino played furious melodies and otherworldly sounds in a dialogue with electronically processed recordings of radio signals. Composer Annie Gosfield constructed this dialogue in such a way that the violin and electronics fused with each other as if inspired by one musical mind."
Music and Words
- by Geert van Boxtel click for complete review (in Dutch) >"Without a doubt, the performance of Monica Germino - for whom Annie Gosfield wrote a piece - was impressive. Long Waves and Random Pulses was inspired by radio waves from the Second World War, sounds which functioned as the basis for Gosfield's solo violin composition. With her violin, Germino searched for the frequencies of the reproduced radio waves - with the suggestion that her sounds were plucked from the air on the spot as a result. The romantic-leaning, striking passages sometimes reminded one of a Beethoven sonata, which at some time between 1940 and 1945 undoubtably would have filled the airwaves with hope and expectation. Gosfield also writes screaming, howling passages, like the screams that filled many a European city in that time period. The piece was a striking tribute to the radio waves of times long gone, a world of sound that harbored and concealed so much - and much long forgotten."
Feast of Music (NY, USA):
After the NYC premiere of plugged & unplugged:
For complete article: www.feastofmusic.com
'an extraordinary musician'
'...it was when her voice kicked in on top that her astonishing range was revealed'
'Playing a stringed instrument while singing is a bit like trying to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. Only harder. ...an extraordinary musician who managed to pull off that double feat with grace and ability…the solo violinist Monica Germino at Le Poisson Rouge, performed a program of works for electric and acoustic violin, most never before heard in New York. Germino, an American who has lived in Amsterdam for the past decade, has been a muse for a number of European composers, among them Heiner Goebbels, Louis Andriessen, and Jacob TV, all of whom have written works for her. Throughout her set, she employed a series of pedals and processors that made her acoustic squeal like a Fender (Goebbels' Bagatellen) and her electric roar like heavy machinery (Michael Gordon's Industry.) But, it was when her voice kicked in on top that her astonishing range was revealed. At times, she would sing and play a repeating theme (Nick Williams' HELL), while at others (Andriessen's "Song" from Xenia), her voice and playing followed along completely different paths.'
-by Peter Matthews
Spitalfields Summer Festival, Bishopsgate Institute, London, UK The Night of the Unexpected, curated by Roland Spekle and Ed McKeon. Artists: Han Bennink; Monica Germino & Frank van der Weij; Evan Parker & Joel Ryan; Philip Jeck; Stewart Lee, Tania Chen & Steve Beresford; Scanner; Trinity Laban Chamber Choir & Contemporary Music Group and video installation from onedotzero.
'Monica Germino, working with sound artist Frank van der Weij on pieces by Gordon and Dennehy, accentuated and manipulated the wirey, metallic qualities of her violin with dramatic flair in concentrated live interactions with her complex, painstakingly constructed pre-recorded tracks.'
'The concept of The Night of the Unexpected is rooted in the adventurous, the exceptional and the unpredictable. Programmes like this have been featured annually since 2003 at Amsterdam's Paradiso, and take the form of an uninterrupted flow of musical performances […] '...modernist classics by Cage, Andriessen and Gorecki, saw scintillating improvisations by jazz masters Han Bennink and Evan Parker, and wavered into electronic and acoustic interventions by Scanner, Philip Jeck and violinist Monica Germino.' -by Geoff Winston
for the complete review: http://londonjazz.blogspot.nl
"As a magical central point, violinist Monica Germino leads the spectator through the choreography... Germino's presence is inescapable. Her electric violin sounds are truly bewitching."
"Amplified violinist Monica Germino performed elegant rock by Michael Gordon with power and precision..."
"The Second Violin Sonata of Charles Ives was brilliantly interpreted by violinist Monica Germino..."
De Telegraph (NL):
"Jacob ter Veldhuis composed a solo for Monica Germino, who drew long, plaintive tones and piercing outbursts from her powerfully amplified electric violin, alongside a soundtrack of indefinable sounds...The violinist is the central figure on stage. She breathes life into the dancers with her notes and summons the memories in them to wake. She leads, inspires, manipulates."
"Violinist Monica Germino plays expansively and with beautiful tone in the rock- and new age-tinged Suites of Lux, for electronic violin and soundtrack, the largest work on the album. -by Stephen Eddins
The Independent (UK):
"...an astoundingly good performance (from London Sinfonietta and director Oliver Knussen). Guest violinist Monica Germino excelled..."
Stringendo Magazine (Australia):
"American/Dutch violinist Monica Germino is a frighteningly-talented young soloist...the Andriessen concert was sensational, Monica was fabulous, and the performances that night were easily the highlight of the festival."
De Volkskrant (NL):
"...violinist Monica Germino delivered an outstanding performance with her transparent solos and tender accompaniment figures..."
Dance Europe (UK): "The violinist Monica Germino performed the music on stage with much passion, almost dancing her way through syncopated sections, and keeps drawing near to the dancers... At the close of the piece she ends up alone on stage, softly repeating the last notes of the music..."
The Observer (UK): "...no problems with Monica Germino's violin, sometimes accompanying the voice in wild obbligatos, at other moments moaning darkly to itself."
General-Anzeiger Bonn (Germany): "...a moving machinery of percussion, two grand pianos, bass- and contrabass clarinets agitates hearts... Cristina Zavalloni (voice) and Monica Germino (violin) were the soloists who since the first performance have performed the piece 'blind' - from memory - with supreme conviction."
Brisbane City Paper (Australia): "We were treated to the first (Australian) performance of Passaggiata, featuring Zavalloni's voice and the searing non-vibrato violin of Monica Germino, crisscrossing big brush-stroke long notes with saxes and brass..."
The Classical Source (UK): "...the intertwining of charismatic violinist Monica Germino and 'chanteuse' Cristina Zavalloni..."
Courier Mail (Australia): "Impressive performance of violinist Monica Germino in Andriessen's 'Passeggiata'..."
Financial Times (UK): "...La Passione, a double concerto for amplified violin and chanteuse...Monica Germino and Cristina Zavalloni were bewitching interpreters."
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (USA): John Pitcher: Andriessen premiere passionate "Violinist Monica Germino accompanied Zavalloni with effortless virtuosity, shaping phrases that seemed like diabolic commentary on the singer's words."
Kolnische Rundschau (Germany): "Monica Germino (violin) and Cristina Zavalloni (voice) were marvellous soloists, and the ensemble MusikFabrik led by Stefan Asbury presented itself in absolute top form."
Rotterdams Dagblad (NL): "Violinist Monica Germino performs Jacob ter Veldhuis' new score live and moves like an eleventh dancer through the group. The amplified electric violin music lures you into another world..." "Dancers are lashed into action by violinist Monica Germino, who is always on stage. She (Germino) resembles a kind of snake charmer, but then not with a flute but rather with her electric violin..."
The New York Times
-by Allan Kozinn
about ELECTRA’s Lincoln Center debut
"…brilliantly played performance…an explosive energy …."
"…In Sonic Evolutions, Lincoln Center’s celebration of Dutch composer Louis Andriessen…the Dutch ensemble ‘s Andriessen works were theatrical and varied…"
"…Chiel Meijering’s rhythmically sharp-edged Milk en Luiman was hypnotic and, through a stream of energetic vocalizations, ritualistic…"
"…Using the ensemble’s full resources – voice, recorder, electric violin and percussion, as well as ample electronic effects – Donnacha Dennehy created a fabric of constantly changing textures that was often viscerally thrilling…"
"…Belinda Reynolds work’s kinship with Mr. Andriessen’s music was in the hypnotically repetitive percussion line, over which the violin traced an alluring melody …"
"… performed the work (Workers Union) as a virtuosic percussion solo by the ensemble’s superb percussionist, Tatiana Koleva …"
De Volkskrant (NL): 4 stars Louis Andriessen's La Girò: www.flickr.com
"La Girò is a piece that refers to itself at least three ways. Firstly, because the title "La Giro" refers to the muse of Vivaldi, and thus reflects the relationship of Louis Andriessen with violinist Monica Germino (and for those who know that Andriessen studied with Berio, it is difficult not think: "Cathy Berberian!"). Secondly, because the piece keeps making little attempts to be a classical violin concerto, that never gets beyond a few chords. But mainly because Monica Germino accompanies herself by speaking and even singing. The commentary gradually becomes darker. It starts with a song of praise to "La Girò", and proceeds to go from an anecdote about a music teacher who is moved to tears by his pupil to a nightmare in which your friends and relatives are shot, one by one, if you make mistakes in a recital. In the last part, the violin is downright tortured. "That shrieking. Those are not birds." - Floris Solleveld, Otto's Onderwereld
complete review (in Dutch): florisotto.blogspot.nl
Louis Andriessen's La Girò: "The final piece of the Monday evening was Louis Andriessen's dramatic La Girò, a violin concerto he wrote last year for violinist Monica Germino. The text was loosely based on historical events. According to Antonio Vivaldi, in 1739, there was no one around even comparable to the prima donna Anna Giró. Andriessen's La Girò is about sweet singing, grace and loveliness. And about a nightmare in which every fault of the singer results in the death of a friend or loved one, and about consummate beauty that a forces a man to weep. ...Andriessen put every note, every letter in exactly the right place. Germino played, narrated and sang, beginning in Italian and ending with the ominous words of Cees Nooteboom: "The sun is strangled in the clouds, that shrieking, those are not birds." - Peter van Amstel, blog for Concertzender
complete review (in Dutch): blog.concertzender.eu
(translated) 'Monica Germino has all one could need to enchant her public with the latest compositions and techniques: technical excellence, great empathy, plus a natural singing voice (which she can use while playing) and a radiant presence.'
'Monica Germino heeft alles in huis om met de nieuwste composities en technieken haar publiek te betoveren: technisch uitmuntend, een groot inlevingsvermogen, een natuurlijke zangstem (die ze al strijkend kan inzetten) én een stralende persoonlijkheid.'