Regina Carter started out as “a Suzuki (method) baby in Detroit,” learning to play classical music on her violin.
But the Motor City native, who now resides in New Jersey, is quick to add that, “I’m not a classical player. I’m a jazz player. I’d never say otherwise.”
But Carter returns to her classical roots, literally, this week when she stars in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Roots concert, performing a violin concerto written especially for her by composer Billy Childs — a work that Carter says has been some time in coming.
“I was trying to get Billy Childs to write something for me for a long time,” says Carter, 43, who was a member of the DSO’s Civic Jazz Orchestra when she was a teenager and also received a music degree from Oakland University. “He’s very knowledgeable and steeped in so much music. So when the opportunity finally came about, I was very excited.
“You hear all these different influences within the piece, and it gives the flexibility to use those (classical) techniques inside this piece and just have fun with it. It’s a very demanding piece.”
Carter, a former member of the Detroit all-female jazz troupe Straight Ahead, worked with a violin coach while preparing to perform the Childs concerto. She says that other orchestras have expressed interest in her playing the piece with them, and she’s hopeful it will be recorded at some point, although there are no plans for that yet.
She’s also gearing up for the release of a new album, “Reverse Thread,” an album which she calls “African folk music” that’s due out in May. She’ll preview material from the album this week at Oakland University and return to town May 1 for a concert at Detroit’s Music Hall Center.
Regina Carter performs at 8 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 28) at Varner Recital Hall, 2200 N. Squirrel Road on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills. Admission is $25. Call (248) 370-2032 or visit www.oakland.edu. Carter also will premiere a new violin concerto by Billy Childs as part of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Roots concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and 8:30 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 29-30) at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit Tickets are $19-123. Call (313) 576-5111 or visit www.detroitsymphony.com.
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