When the renowned violinist David Garrett recalls the turning point in his illustrious musical journey, the vibrant city of Hong Kong stands out. Over 15 years ago, this metropolis played an instrumental role in shaping the trajectory of his career, a memory he cherishes deeply.
In 2007, a youthful Garrett had just ventured into a new realm with his album, “Virtuoso,” a daring fusion of classical and pop. Despite having a commendable reputation as a classical violinist, there was skepticism about this new direction. To gauge its potential success, his record label decided to introduce him to audiences beyond the familiar territories of Europe and the US.
And so, Hong Kong became the chosen destination. “The setting was intriguing. I was in this expansive mall which had a resemblance to an Italian theater. As I played tracks from ‘Virtuoso’, an audience gathered, engrossed in the music,” reminisces Garrett, now a seasoned artist at 42. Unexpectedly, it was in Hong Kong that his album first gained momentum, even before it did in his homeland, Germany.
His gratitude towards the city is palpable. “The warmth and acceptance of the Hong Kong audience were instrumental in charting my global journey,” Garrett notes.
Fast forward to today, Garrett, a multiplatinum artist, has graced stages in front of dignitaries including then-US President Barack Obama and Britain’s revered Queen Elizabeth. He’s now set to serenade Hong Kong again on September 13, promoting his latest work, “Iconic.” This album is a tribute to his classical beginnings, featuring succinct pieces that showcase his unparalleled prowess. Describing the tracks, Garrett mentions, “They’re akin to classical music’s diamonds; petite yet stunning.”
“Iconic” encompasses revamped versions of timeless pieces like “The Swan” and “Danse Macabre” by Saint-Saëns, “Ave Maria” by Schubert, and works by Vivaldi and Mozart. Notably, it also includes duets with legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman, tenor Andrea Bocelli, and Japanese flautist Cocomi, among others.
While Garrett’s early performances were in orthodox settings owing to his classical leanings, he soon realized the limitations of such a niche. To appeal to contemporary audiences with dwindling attention spans, he felt the need to adapt, opting for shorter compositions. This oscillation between conventional expectations and modern demands has been a consistent theme in his career since his inaugural Hong Kong performance.
Garrett’s journey into music began conventionally. Born in Germany, he was introduced to the violin at a tender age of four. His prodigious talent was evident early on – he debuted on stage at 10 and was soon signed by Deutsche Grammophon, recording an album at just 13. A shift occurred when he moved to New York for studies at Juilliard and began to embrace a rocker persona, evident in his 2002 album “Pure Classics.“
2007 marked a significant transformation with the release of “Virtuoso.” Garrett’s choice to diversify his repertoire, spanning from pop to film scores, mirrors the strategies of several classical musicians who sought wider acclaim. However, Garrett remains ambivalent about the term “crossover,” emphasizing his commitment to maintaining the integrity of each piece, regardless of its genre.
Drawing parallels to greats like Mozart and Vivaldi, Garrett emphasizes, “They weren’t labeled ‘crossover’ for incorporating contemporary influences. It was simply music.”
On the essence of iconicity, Garrett remains modest, attributing it to the intricate blend of skill and authentic self-presentation. Yet, for his countless fans worldwide, his iconic stature needs no validation.