“Whether she was playing the violin, electric violin, adapted violin, whispering, talking, or singing, Germino conveyed her passion with tour de force virtuosity and burning vulnerability.” — Strings Magazine
Amsterdam-based, American/Dutch violinist Monica Germino ’90 is on the cutting edge of new music. Hailed by The Sunday Times (UK) as a ‘striking presence’ whose ‘virtuosity was exhilarating’, she has commissioned and premiered innovative works in leading venues and festivals worldwide. Germino is a co-founder of the international four-member ensemble ELECTRA, which commissions composers from all over the world. She has recorded for Attacca Records, Basta Music and BMOP, and on numerous discs with the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble for Deutsche Grammophon, Nonesuch and Philips. Germino has worked with many composers, including Louis Andriessen, John Cage, Heiner Goebbels, Michael Gordon, György Ligeti, and Julia Wolfe. Together with sound engineer Frank van der Weij, she has conceived and produced multimedia programs worldwide, revolutionizing the concept of a solo violin recital. She performs on acoustic, electric, and adapted violins and her performances often feature singing and playing. A versatile artist, Germino has performed with Europe’s leading dance and theatre companies, and broken barriers in exciting collaborations with choreographer Nanine Linning, singer Cristina Zavalloni, pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama, and many others. She holds diplomas with honors from New England Conservatory, Yale University, and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Germino plays a Joannes Baptista Ceruti violin, on permanent loan from the Elise Mathilde Foundation, and a custom-made 'Violectra’.
Currently living in: Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Highlight of your performance season and what’s next on your schedule?
A highlight: playing violin and two kick drums simultaneously in a solo piece by David Dramm. Huge challenge, took hours and hours to master the coordination involved, and played it in 30 performances in Germany and the Netherlands this season with the dance company Club Guy and Roni.
Next up: together with Marcel Wierckx and Frank van der Weij I’m finishing up a music video of my version for adapted violin of Michael Gordon’s ‘Industry’, to be released in April by Cantaloupe Music. AMERICAN WIZARDRY, a new show with my duo with sound engineer Frank van der Weij with new pieces for violin and sound design by American composers/wizards Molly Joyce, Missy Mazzoli, Annie Gosfield, Julia Wolfe.
I’m also developing a show with my group ELECTRA called RACHE (‘Revenge’), featuring the stories of four women who murdered for revenge, that will premiere in the Dutch Opera Days in Rotterdam.
How did NEC affect the way you think about and make music? I was lucky to be surrounded by free thinkers and rigid idealists alike. I was exposed to a dizzying amount of influences, ranging from the Third Stream department (now Contemporary Improvisation) to Steve Drury’s coachings to Larry Lesser’s Aural Heritage class. I learned to consider all the elements that went into a performance, and that number one will always be the music; without great music most experiments are likely to fail. I worked with many student and faculty composers at NEC, and this became an essential part of my work — I work on music by living composers almost every day.
What is your favorite NEC memory? It’s impossible to pick just one…classes with John Heiss, James Klein, studying Stravinsky with James Buswell, coaching Bartók with Eugene Lehner. Sneaking into Jordan Hall at 3 AM to record the Bach Chaconne. Taking practice breaks with great friends.
What would be your dream collaboration? Many of my dream collaborations have become reality; I count myself extremely lucky. I would love to work with Steve Reich someday. Playing Music for 18 Musicians was one of the highlights of contemporary ensemble playing for me.
What is your greatest passion outside of music? Reading, writing, keeping in touch with old & new friends.
Photo by Sharon Mor Yosef