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Lara St. John

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Lara St. John

Lara St. John (born on April 15, 1971 in London, Ontario, Canada) is a Canadian violinist of Scottish origin.

St. John was born into a musical family. While her father taught French and Spanish and coached basketball at a high school in nearby Arva, Ontario, her mother is a music teacher. Her older brother Scott is a professor of music at the University of Toronto and plays violin and viola.

St. John started playing violin at the age of 2. When she was 5 she already had her first solo performance. At he age of 10 she had her first performance in Lisbon, two and three years later she toured Spain, France, Portugal and Hungary. Due to an Ontario law which permitted it, she was exempted from all school subjects except music. At the age of 14 she entered the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. After graduating there three years later she wanted to enter the Chaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. While she was settling in, many teachers, including hers, were defecting and due to the conservatory's rules she couldn't study with any other teacher so she had a chance to travel around the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries where she encountered the Roma people and their music. Her further musical academies include Guildhall School, United Kingdom, Mannes College, New York and New England Conservatory in Boston. St. John was victorious at several competitions. In 1997 at a competition organized by the Canada Council for the Arts and an anonymous donor she won a two year use of Lyall Stradivarius dating from 1702. Now she performs on a Salabue Gudagnini from 1779, thanks to Heini & Co. from Toronto and an anonymous donor.

St. John, a six foot (approx. 183 cm) tall long haired beauty, appeared in some "shocking" photos. For the cover of her debut album, Bach Works for Violin Solo, released in 1996 and presenting works of her favourite composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, she posed naked with a violin covering her chest and looking about a decade younger than she actually was. Although the cover was artistic and not pornographic at all many critics were shocked and paid much more attention to the cover instead to the music. The album was sold in 30,000 copies, a very high number for classical music. It will, of course, remain unknown how many copies were sold because of the cover and how many because of the music. The cover of her second album, Gypsy (reflecting her experience from travelling around Eastern Europe), was also a target of many critics although it was even more "decent" than the previous one. This time she posed wearing a leather jacket but with nothing underneath. According to St. John's words with the first cover she wanted to express there was nothing between her and her music and that she also wanted to promote classical music among broader audience, especially young people.

Because of her stature and those covers many people tried to compare St. John with two other young violinists, Linda Brava (posing for Playboy) and Vanessa Mae (known for her performances wearing a wet T-shirt), both known for their classical crossover albums. But in contrast to them, St. John always took the music very seriously, at all of her recitals she was dressed "appropriately" and apart from those two covers no other "shocking" photos were recorded. Besides that she was faithful to classical repertoire all until 2003 when she signed a contract with Sony Classical and recorded her first crossover album Re: Bach.

St. John is now (when not on a tour) living in New York. According to her official web site she likes J. R. R. Tolkien, reptiles and the American Museum of Natural History.

Discography

  • 1996 - Bach Works for Violin Solo, released by Well Tempered Productions
  • 1997 - Gypsy, released by Well Tempered Productions
  • 2002 - Bach The Concerto Album, released by Ancalagon Records
  • 2003 - Re:Bach, released by Sony Classical

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