Violinist Cornelia Heard celebrates Blair’s 50th-anniversary with a little help from her famous family and friends

connieWhen Blair School of Music violinist Cornelia Heard announces she’s giving a concert with a few of her family and friends, classical music fans pay attention. Her closest associates, after all, include some of the classical music world’s most distinguished performers.

This Saturday evening, Heard will present one of her family-and-friends concerts at Blair’s Turner Recital Hall. Not surprisingly, the program’s roster of guest artists reads like a who’s who of Nashville classical music.

The celebrated composer and double-bass player Edgar Meyer, who just happens to be Heard’s husband, will help Heard open the concert with a performance of J.S. Bach’s Sonata in A major, BWV 1015. The couple’s son, violinist George Meyer, will join in the rendition. “There’s a lot of beautiful imitation in this piece, and the different parts are all fairly equal in their demands,” says Heard. “It’s a great piece and is also a great excuse to play with my husband and son.”

Heard organized this Saturday’s concert to mark Blair’s 50th-anniversary season, and it’s hard to think of a better musician to lead such a celebration. Her father, Alexander Heard, was Vanderbilt’s longtime and esteemed chancellor – the university’s Jean and Alexander Heard Library is named for her parents. Moreover, Heard was one of the first students to enroll in Blair when it opened in the 1960s as a precollege music academy.

Heard joined Blair’s faculty in 1982. This weekend, she’ll join another of the school’s veteran professors, pianist Amy Dorfman, to perform Manuel da Falla’s Suite Populaire Espagnole. “I first heard about Amy from Edgar, who had played with her at Indiana University,” says Heard. “She’s been one of my best friends, so I wanted to play something memorable with her. We picked da Falla’s colorful Suite Populaire Espagnole, which was originally written for voice and piano. These melodies are famous, so people will recognize them.”

The concert’s first half will close with Telemann’s Concerto No. 1 for Four Violins in G major, a work that will unite Blair’s violin faculty both past and present. Christian Teal, who retired last season after 42 years as first violinist with the Blair String Quartet, returns to play the Telemann. He’ll join the quartet’s newly minted first violinist Stephen Miahky, Heard and violinist Carolyn Huebl in the performance.

Heard has been a member of the Blair String Quartet since 1982. This Saturday, she’ll reunite with two former quartet members, violist Kathryn Plummer and cellist Grace Mihi Bahng, to perform Brahms’ Quartet for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello in G minor. Dorfman will be at the Steinway.

“We’ve had only two directors at Blair since its founding, so there’s been a lot of continuity at this school,” says Heard. “I’m proud to have been part of Blair’s history.”

IF YOU GO

Violinist Connie Heard and Friends perform music by Bach, Telemann, da Falla and Brahms. The free concert starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 1 at Turner Recital Hall, 2400 Blakemore Ave.

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About John Pitcher

John Pitcher is the chief classical music, jazz and dance critic as well as co-founder of ArtsNash. He has been a classical music critic for the Washington Post, the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, National Public Radio’s Performance Today (NPR), ArtNowNashville.com and the Nashville Scene. His writings about music and the arts have also appeared in Symphony Magazine, American Record Guide and Stagebill Magazine, among other publications. Pitcher earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied arts writing with Judith Crist and Phyllis Garland. His work has received the New York State Associated Press award for outstanding classical music criticism.