Magazine article Strings

A Journey to India Teaches Violin Professor a 'Small' Lesson

Magazine article Strings

A Journey to India Teaches Violin Professor a 'Small' Lesson

Article excerpt

Film doc sparks transformative experience for violinist, composer, and educator Gregory Walker

In August 2010, Lehman College-CUNY assistant professor David Claman invited his old rock-band mate Gregory to collaborate on an East-West fusion recording along with his friend Father Paul Poovathingal (aka the Singing Priest), a Carmelite priest living in Kerala, India. Walker, a University of Colorado-Denver violin professor and concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra (and Strings contributor), was ready for a change, after years of playing standard classical repertoire.

Enter filmmaker Chuck Fryberger, a sponsored rock climber and action-sports film director.

Fryberger, Walker says, had stumbled into the April 2009 premiere of Walker's nontraditional piece Looking for the Perfect Planet for video sampler and amplified chorus in Denver and emailed the violinist to ask about collaborating on a future project. "My goal was to travel to a cool place and make a recording," Walker says of the project that grew into the beautifully filmed, contemplative documentary Song of the Untouchable, now on the filmfestival circuit and headed for DVD release. "Chuck's goal appears to have been to figure out what makes me tick."

The film's title, Walker adds, is an ode to "those many things we cannot quite grasp, but it refers to the music of the lowest tribal caste in Indian society, the 'Dalits or 'untouchables'."

The team spent 13 days in India, as Walker explored the sights and sounds of Carnatic violin, though Fryberger's film crew followed the violinist for a year. …

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