New Classical Tracks®

Violinist Tessa Lark goes back to her roots

Violinist Tessa LarkLauren Desberg

New Classical Tracks - Tessa Lark (Extended)


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May 31, 2023

Tessa Lark — The Stradgrass Sessions (First Hand Records)

New Classical Tracks - Tessa Lark

“Smell is supposedly one of the strongest sensory responses to bring memories back. But for me, the sound of bluegrass may as well be the smell of bluegrass because it launches me back to a pure time and place every time I listen to it,” violinist Tessa Lark said about recording her latest album, The Stradgrass Sessions

In this recording, she blends the sounds of bluegrass with classical music elements. She does that with the help of some of her idols, Michael Cleveland and Edgar Meyer. 

What the heck is stradgrass?

“I was using the old Stradivari violin for four years, which is the violin that Joseph Gingold owned and used until the end of his life. Now the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis owns it. It lets one of the prizewinners use it in the four years between competitions. That was me from 2014 through 2018.

“My fiancee, Michael Thurber, when we first met and played together, played bass and accompanied me on a bluegrass number with my father, who plays banjo. In the middle of rehearsal, he said, ‘bluegrass on a Stradivarius is stradgrass.’”

What did Michael Cleveland think when he played on the Stradivarius?

I just ran into him at a conference in New York, and he was there doing a showcase. I told him I was his biggest fan and had a Stradivarius with me. I asked, ‘Would you like to try it out?’ He said, ‘Of course.’ He said it growled. He got into the tone, playing many double stops and long notes. It sounded excellent in his hands.

“The tune we played together is ‘Lazy Katie,’ and I was in nearby Louisville after we met at that convention in New York City. He lives just outside that in Indiana, and he invited me over to his place. We just jammed for a few hours at his house.”

What was it like to make music with Edgar Meyer?

“Talk about a dream come true. He has influenced the way I live in music in every way. It is a little bit of a shock when I step back for a second and think that this lifetime hero of mine is a colleague.”

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Tessa Lark — The Stradgrass Sessions (FHR Store)

Tessa Lark (official site)