Lifelong violinist resident Christina Day Martinson suffered a injury that could have ended her career years ago. Instead, that injury is directly responsible for the Jamaica Plain resident’s current position as concertmaster with the Boston Baroque orchestra.
Day Martinson started learning the traditional violin at age 4, despite feeling more connected with baroque music “all her life,” she told the Gazette last week.
Baroque music—classical compositions dating to the 1600s and early 1700s—uses special instruments and special tuning. Playing a baroque violin is a very different skill from playing a traditional violin, as it is really a period instrument, made exactly like violins were made in the 1600s, and uses specialty tuning as well as a special bow.
While studying performance techniques in Holland while a student at New England Conservatory, Day Martinson injured her hand.
For two years, Day Martinson took a hiatus from playing, focusing on studying. Then, after returning to Boston and joining a performance program at Boston University, a teacher “put a baroque bow in [her] hand,” saying, “’This will teach you how to play Bach,’” Day Martinson said.
That baroque bow led to picking up a baroque violin as her new primary instrument.
“It brought me back to myself,” she said. “It felt like a fresh start. I found my real voice.”
“It’s really my focus now,” Day Martinson said. “I feel like it really has some otherwordly elements to it, a real spiritual aspect to it that I really appreciate. It’s not a religious thing, but there’s a depth that for whatever reason, resonates with me.”
She still plays traditional violin and viola, a larger version of the violin, though not often.
These days, Day Martinson is serving as Boston Baroque’s concertmaster, or leader of the orchestra musicians. It’s a position akin to lieutenant to the conductor’s general, she explained.
“You’re sort of the leader of the orchestra,” she said. “It’s like leading a school of fish. These very minute, very subtle adjustments between us can really impact the whole orchestra.”
Boston Baroque’s next concerts are Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 in Cambridge. For more information, see bostonbaroque.org.