Mix LogoThis live concert/video hybrid presentation by violinist Tim Fain is his musical exploration of the human longing for connection in the digital age. Expect a combination of music and film including a work for solo violin by Philip Glass (written for Fain), film choreographed and directed by Black Swan’s Benjamin Millepied, the music of Pulitzer Prize winning composers Aaron Jay Kernis, William Bolcom, and Kevin Puts, and the acclaimed Nico Muhly and Lev Zhurbin, all interwoven with films by Kate Hackett and spoken-word poetry by Leonard Cohen, read by radio personality Fred Child.  

“I wanted to expand on what a performance can be. Plenty of people use video, but I wanted to make something that really reflected growing up with Skype and Facebook—I mean, I’m addicted to my phone as much as everybody else, but I wanted to use that for something compelling and beautiful.” -Tim Fain

Tim Fain

1617Fain400x250With his adventuresome spirit and vast musical gifts, violinist Tim Fain has emerged as a mesmerizing presence on the music scene. The “charismatic young violinist with a matinee idol profile, strong musical instincts, and first rate chops” (Boston Globe) is seen and heard in the film Black Swan, and gives “voice” to the violin of the lead actor in the hit film 12 Years a Slave as he did with Richard Gere’s violin in Fox Searchlight’s feature film Bee Season. Most recently, Fain collaborates with Google on a virtual reality (VR) music and film project RESONANCE that introduces VR capability for YouTube to the world.

Launching his career with Young Concert Artists and on Avery Fisher Career Grant, he went on to electrify audiences at debuts with the Baltimore Symphony with conductor Marin Alsop, at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival and with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Fain has also appeared with the Mexico City, Tucson, Oxford (UK), and Cincinnati Chamber Symphonies; Brooklyn, Buffalo and Hague Philharmonics; the National Orchestra of Spain; and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in a special performance at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. In addition, he was the featured soloist with the Philip Glass Ensemble at Carnegie Hall in a concert version of Einstein on the Beach, which he performed again this season in South Korea, and he continues to tour the US and Europe in a duo-recital program with Philip Glass.
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 His multi-media evening Portals premiered to sold-out audiences in New York, Los Angeles, at its mid-western debut at Omaha’s KANEKO, and at Australia’s Melbourne Festival and Le Lieu Unique in France, with continued interest and success world-wide. The centerpiece of the evening is Partita for Solo Violin, a new work written especially for him by Philip Glass; the production also features collaborations with Benjamin Millepied, Leonard Cohen, and filmmaker Kate Hackett, with radio personality Fred Child appearing on screen.

A dynamic and compelling performer of traditional works, he is also a fervent champion of 20th and 21st century composers, with a repertoire ranging widely from Beethoven and Tchaikovsky to Aaron Jay Kernis and John Corigliano; as the Los Angeles Times recently noted, his career “is based, in part, on new music and new ways of thinking about classical music.” Fain’s discography features River of Light (Naxos), which showcases modern virtuosic short works for violin and piano by living American composers; Arches, which combines old and new solo works and reflects Fain’s inquisitive passion and intellect; The Concerto Project IV with the Hague Philharmonic featuring Philip Glass’s Double Concerto for violin and cellist Wendy Sutter, and Tim Fain Plays Phillip Glass (both on Orange Mountain Music); and most recently First Loves (VIA Records), a collection of quintessential violin masterpieces which first inspired him to be a violinist.

A native of Santa Monica, California, Tim Fain is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with Victor Danchenko; and The Juilliard School, where he work with Robert Mann. He performs on a violin made by Francesco Gobetti, Venice 1717, the “Moller,” on extended loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago.

About Portals


Combining music with film, dance and spoken word, Portals explores the ways in which we communicate, and, through communication, find meaning in the digital age. In an era when our expressions of love and sorrow, of togetherness and longing—such private emotions—are sometimes displayed so publicly on the web, the potential for artistic communication through digital media is endless. The creative team and I set out to expand the boundaries of possibility in live performance whereby the performers and artists appear onscreen as if signing on (such as via Skype), each from his or her respective private space, interacting with each other as well as with me on stage.

For example, at times one sees the performers readying themselves for performance, warming up, or just relaxing in their own private spaces, as if glimpsed by webcam. By contrast, at other times Nicholas and I meet in an imagined performance space which combines a feeling of an empty concert hall with a sound stage, (the empty chairs and pixilated projections) in which we perform together. Sometimes the two worlds collide and combine, as in Graceful Ghost, where we occasionally switch places, passing through these different worlds, real and imagined. Though we’re not always face to face or feeling someone’s touch or the warmth of their breath, we are deeply connected.
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 The creative team: I first got to know Philip Glass when I toured with his Book of Longing, a song cycle based on Leonard Cohen’s poetry. There was a moment mid-show when the violin took center-stage for a fast and furious solo, “I Enjoyed the Laughter.” I found it passionate and lyrical in a way that I hadn’t heard in Philip’s music before, like J.S. Bach played backwards! Incidentally, ‘Laughter” was only about 90 seconds long, but night after night, I kept coming off stage thinking, “That was amazing—I want a whole piece!” I think it was after a show in Wellington, NZ that I asked Philip to flesh out that solo, and here it is, a major work: Partita for Solo Violin. 

On that Book of Longing tour, Leonard Cohen would join us now and then for performances. Leonard’s poetry was an inspiration for me in creating Portals. Whether addressing an estranged wife, God, or Hank Williams, his words go straight to the heart of the matter with pathos and humor.

I first collaborated with Benjamin Millepied a few years back, on a piece for NY City Ballet called Double Aria. More recently, as we worked together on the movie Black Swan, my admiration for his sense of flow and space deepened, and I knew that he would be a great collaborator on Portals. I should say that all of the music on this program was composed for concert performance, but finding Philip’s music not only aurally evocative, but visually as well, we were inspired to pair his music with visual movement. When we arrived at Copland House at Merestead to shoot the dance films, we were enchanted by this beautifully light, but slightly haunted, space, a uniquely metaphorical embodiment of the ephemeral nature of the internet and digital communication.

I first met Fred Child in the studios of Performance Today, but I really got to know him rafting on the Colorado River. Fred is in familiar territory as host and MC of Portals, presiding over the evening with his usual aplomb. I am also deeply indebted to Nicholas Britell, whom I have known for years, not only for his poetic and inspired performances in Portals, but also for all of his help and skillful hand in producing the audio tracks for Portals. And finally, the wonderfully talented and imaginatively spontaneous Kate Hackett became an important partner in this project and helped immensely in the realization of my vision.

My heartfelt thanks to them all!


Thursday, January 19, 2017, 7:30pm
TPT Street Space, Saint Paul

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Expect a combination of music, film and dance including a work for solo violin by Philip Glass (written for Fain), film choreographed and directed by Black Swan’s Benjamin Millepied, the music of Pulitzer Prize winning composers Aaron Jay Kernis, William Bolcom, and Kevin Puts, and the acclaimed Nico Muhly and Lev Zhurbin, all interwoven with films by Kate Hackett and spoken-word poetry by Leonard Cohen, read by radio personality Fred Child.  

Concert length is estimated to be 2 hours with one intermission.

Please join us immediately following this event for a Q&A with Tim Fain hosted by Fred Child, host of NPR’s Performance Today.

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Portals Project on the Web

An ingeniously practical show that Fain can take on tour, unencumbered by much more than a laptop. His goal is to find new ways to frame the music, and in that he succeeded admirably. It was the music, conveyed through Fain’s warm, beautifully centered tone; expressive and varied vibrato; and matter-of-fact virtuosity, that commanded the attention. He expanded the show’s purview by including poetry interludes in which Fred Child read works by Leonard Cohen, often appearing on the screen framed in a Web browser page or on a laptop or an iPad. Several movements of the Glass — a rugged, seven-movement suite that draws on both the intensity of Bach’s solo violin music and Mr. Glass’s patent use of repetition — were mated to quirkily narrative, athletic dance sequences, choreographed by Benjamin Millepied.

The New York Times

Violinist Tim Fain plays like a virtuoso and thinks like a cinematographer. The show, Portals, is a smart mix of sound and vision for the Facebook vision who love Bjork and Beethoven with equal ardor.

Vanity Fair