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Violinist Tim Fain Talks Virtual Reality, ‘Moonlight’ And Collaborating With Philip Glass

Tim Fain playing violin
Courtesy of Tim Fain
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Tim Fain puts his own spin on classical violin.

 Violinist Tim Fain is a classically-trained musician, but his talents extend far beyond a classical repertoire. 

Over the years, Fain has performed with jazz pianists, rock stars, rappers and many more. He also regularly incorporates multimedia and virtual reality in his work to create an immersive experience for the audience. He has also performed and recorded music for films like “Black Swan,” “12 Years A Slave,” and “Moonlight.”

Host Frank Stasio talks with Fain about his career as a violinist. Fain performs with the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. 

Interview Highlights:

Fain on his musical inspirations and how he began performing for films:I was always hearing music in everything. It wasn’t only films or music itself. It was the wheels on our car, a boat engine, or the birds singing in a forest up in Puget Sound. These were all very musical to me. But I was involved in the industry from a young age working on some film soundtracks as a kid singing in a choir. So that was kind of in my blood from the get-go.

On recording music for the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight”: Nicholas Britell and I wanted to create a sound world where the violin was almost as a character in a film. We mic'd the violin in a way which I’m pretty sure this violin has never been mic'd before … Just a couple inches away and making it almost into a loud whisper. A sound that almost feels as if it’s coming from inside your head – throwing a 30-second reverb onto it to give it an incredible amount of space to a very quiet sound.

On collaborating with composer Philip Glass and songwriter Leonard Cohen: Philip and I work together a whole lot. We’ve been collaborating on various projects for about 10 or 11 years now. We got started working together on a piece called “Book of Longing,” which was a song cycle Philip wrote based on Leonard Cohen’s poetry. Leonard would show up on tour. He would come out and take a bow afterwards. I got to know him a bit as well – a beautiful soul. His eyes just looked right through you and so generous. He would offer to carry my violin off the tour bus. Just a sweet, sweet man.

View Fain’s virtual reality project “Resonance” below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qECnb4CT-9c

 

Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC. His fascination for audio storytelling and radio journalism began as a broadcast major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began his career as a reporter for Carolina Connection, UNC’s student-led radio news show, where Charlie’s work won multiple Hearst Journalism Awards.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.