Judy Kang has covered a lot of musical ground since she first picked up a violin at age four in Edmonton, Alberta.
She has performed electronic pieces with legendary classical composer Pierre Boulez and spanned the globe with Lady Gaga‘s Monster Ball Tour.
On Wednesday, Jan. 12, the journey takes the 31-year-old virtuoso to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, for a chamber music concert with conductor Stephen P Brown.
Admission to the 8 pm show is free, but seating is limited and online reservations are recommended. A snowstorm is predicted to end hours before the show, which is scheduled to go on.
If you can’t make it, you can watch it right here on MorristownGreen.com.
We will stream live video of the two-hour concert, which will feature pianist Jarred Tafaro of the College of Saint Elizabeth performing the world premiere of Stephen’s minimalist composition, Not Rach 3.
Judy will play a Ravel duet and join a larger ensemble for Dectet, by New Jersey composer David Sampson.
And she will play the pieces on a 1689 Stradivarius violin, a sublimely sweet instrument that “can cut through any hall.” It’s on loan from a Canadian music institution.
Judy met conductor Stephen P Brown, an Englishman living in Montville, through the Jubilee Symphony Orchestra, a Christian organization.
“Stephen is very knowledgeable about rhythm, and getting the tempos really tight,” she says. “His phrasing is very good. He’s very encouraging. He brings us the freedom to think on our own, to help us be spontaneous.”
Touring with Lady Gaga’s entourage — about 20 musicians and dancers — also has taught her something about tempos, spontaneity and musical discipline.
A friend told her about the opening for the Monster Ball Tour. The auditions did not intimidate Judy, who studied at the Juilliard School.
“I was really a fan of (Gaga’s). I took it very casually, and just experienced it. By the time I played for her, it was like, ‘I really want this!’ They were bringing something out of me. It just felt right.”
Judy remembers feeling that way as a young girl; the violin was like an extension of herself.
Last year’s Monster Ball Tour took her to Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe. She played Madison Square Garden and the Lollapalooza festival, before 80,000 fans in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Lollapalooza stands out because it was outdoors, in daylight, and the band could see the fans.
“There was a feeling of real connection,” said Judy, who enjoys Celtic music, plays with the New Music Ensemble and has her own experimental ambient band, the Simple Machines.
Some of her classical acquaintances warned that detours into pop music would erode her skills and jeopardize her “serious” career. But Judy was surrounded by Top 40 radio as a child and does not like squeezing music into airtight boxes.
Lady Gaga, known at the time as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, was exposed to classical influences as a student at New York University’s Tisch School of Music, Judy notes.
“In the generation we are in, with the media and all the different things we are exposed to, there is no way that you can’t be influenced by everything we see and hear,” Judy says. “There is no escaping it. We can’t isolate ourselves. We’re definitely in a new time, musically. And definitely, more artists are open to other kinds of music.”