Ionel Stoica

Violin

Ionel Stoica

How many years have you played with EPO?

More than 10 years ago, when Maestro Sabatino Vacca was conducting. Judy Gargaro invited me to play in EPO and to bring some students with me from the Martingrove Collegiate Institute music program.

What is your experience as a musician?

I was almost 5 when I started learning the secrets of the violin. From grade 1 to 12 I was a student of the Music and Arts School from Arad (Romania), and from 1977-1981 I studied music at the Faculty of Music "G. Dima" of the University Babes-Bolyai from Cluj-Napoca, Romania. I focused on teaching instead of performance because I loved working with teenagers. My passion for music led me to start teaching in 1981.

What do you do outside of the orchestra?

I was teaching violin in principal and viola, cello, contrabass, and orchestra in secondary between 1981-1996 at the Music and Arts Highschool in Deva, Romania. I came to Canada in 1996, taught violin privately for some years, and taught strings for the past 20 years at Martingrove Collegiate Institute until my retirement in 2020. I hope to go back and teach violin in private again, after the pandemic. In the meantime, I am focusing on spending time with my family, discovering new recipes and gardening.

What do you think is special about the violin?

Everything! It is called "the devil's instrument" for a reason! Violin gives its player so many possibilities and satisfactions, and also has so many secrets. You play it for your entire life and by the time you think you have achieved the climax of a certain performance, you start going downhill, because your own body does not respond the way it used to. Playing a violin looks like a circle. A circle of life!

How do you feel the violin is best used in the orchestra?

1st and 2nd violin sections should be well balanced. I'm not only talking about quantity but also quality. An orchestra should have 14 1st violin players, and 12 2nd violinists. The 2nd violin section always doubles the 1st violin section so they all need to listen to one another and follow the lead of their concertmaster in order to play and sound as a group. You get the best sound when all violins play the same bowing as one, and the same bow style (all at the tip, or all at the middle or at the frog). For solo performances, it is different. You are the soloist so you have the freedom to show your independent style.

You were a featured soloist in our November 2021 show in a movement of JS Bach's Double Concerto for Two Violins with EPO colleague Katrina Grieve. What is your favourite thing about this piece?

I was pleasantly surprised when Music Director, Matthew Jones, invited me to play one of the solo parts. Katrina is a great violin player. She was trained in Canada and her Baroque style (short martelle bow close to staccato - light sound!) is different from my Baroque style (large martelle bow - heavy sound!). I was trained in Romania and I learned the Baroque style promoted by George Enescu, Yehudi Menuhin, and David Oistrah. I like to believe that during our recording, we were able to bring our styles together and complement each other.

The best thing about this concerto is that each soloist can play their own style as long as they come together somewhere in the middle. My favorite thing is that this concerto sounds like a "concerto fugue": the 2nd violin section starts the first theme, followed by the 1st violins, and cello/bass. The second theme is presented by the two soloists only, and after their dialogue everyone can build "musical games" using the existent inner melodies. There are so many motives and phrases you can build during the performance. It is the genius of Bach who gives soloists and orchestra members multiple possibilities to create different phrases. Think about this: the double concerto in D minor has been played for 304 years and you still cannot find two similar performances or stylistic similarities. It is fascinating!

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