The Dazzling Viola Duo Takes the Spotlight

Apollo’s Fire violists Karina Schmitz and Kristen Linfante talk about performing Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 6

In J.S Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, the violins go silent and the 2 violas take center stage. AF violists Karina Schmitz and Kristen Linfante discuss stepping into the spotlight to perform this famous concerto.

Q. What do you enjoy most about being the viola section of AF?

Karina: First and foremost, I get to share a stand with the amazing Kristen Linfante. She’s fun, talented, sassy, and she brings an incredible positive energy to the whole orchestra. We’ve been stand partners for nearly fifteen years, and it’s always a fabulous romp to play together.

Kristen: I love playing alongside Karina. We have been a team for over a decade, and there is a comfort level, and natural musical camaraderie that is really unique and wonderful. Our musical cohesiveness and connection is practically telepathic at this point. Karina is a fantastic musician and I am constantly inspired by her musical ideas. The feeling within our section – and among all members of AF – is one of mutual love, support, and respect for each other on and off stage.

Q. What’s it like to step out front and play the amazing Brandenburg No. 6?

Karina: I love it. All the violinists have to leave, and the lower strings take over. What could be better? And it sure beats playing Handel’s viola parts (or rather, transposed cello parts).

Kristen: I’ve played Brandy 6 many times and it’s always a thrill. The first time I ever performed it professionally was in Salzburg with my teacher, Paul Doktor playing the other viola part. Performing the piece always brings back fond memories of him. It’s an incredible piece of music, and a real workout for the two violas! It’s so rare for a baroque composer to feature the violas so prominently, and I love that Bach payed homage to his favorite instrument by writing for two solo violas!

Q. What message do you hope the audience will take away with them after the performance?

Karina: Bach achieves a very special color with the lower instrumentation for Brandenburg 6, and I love the intimacy of it, especially in the sublime slow movement. However, the piece is full of joy and playfulness, and I hope the audience shares in the fun and pleasure we all have playing it!

Kristen: Brandenburg #6 is such a joyful piece. My hope is that the music, and the joy that it brings to us when we perform it, will rub off on the audience.

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“The U.S.A.’s hottest baroque band.” –CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE (UK)

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