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Acclaim

The concerto wears its bluegrass and Irish reel motifs on its sleeve and sounds like it descended from the mountains only to run into Aaron Copland outside the concert hall. Torke titled the work “Sky” based on its wide-open sound, another characteristic shared with some of Copland’s best-known work like “Appalachian Spring.”

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Nathan Cone, Texas Public Radio

Tessa Lark took the stage at the Delaware Symphony orchestra for a mesmerizing performance of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto ... Urged on by a cheering audience, she gave an exciting encore from her album (released on concert day) that began with a simple Appalachian melody and took off into a fiddler’s stratosphere.

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Gail Obenreder, BroadStreetReview.com

"About my favorite composer in the world" is how ASO leader David Alan Miller described Michael Torke this past January. The occasion was the premiere of "Sky," a bluegrass infused concerto written for the marvelous young American violinist Tessa Lark. That piece leads off a new all-Torke disc featuring four recent concertos.

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Joseph Dalton, Albany Times-Union

Flights of fancy are surrounded by certain degrees of semi-permeable musical membranes. Such freedom of form is a pleasant way to be introduced to the liberties held within the reaches of Tessa Lark. In her first-ever release, “Fantasy” draws upon certain elements of independence, though the disciplines of structure and mechanics are firmly intact. What gives Mlle Lark’s preclusive appeal is her spectrum of classical commands along with classical repertoire variability.

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Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet.com

“Love Letter” seemed to focus on bluegrass flavor, with touches of things classical. It embraced lyricism, dance-like energy and meditative moments, qualities which Lark emphasized in a compelling performance....Lark was one with the piece, as was the packed house with it and her.

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John Shulson, Virginia Gazette
Tessa Lark (center) with fellow musicians at the May 2019 Musica Viva festival in Sydney, Australia

Musica Viva Festival Concert 5, titled Scenes, brought together chamber music pieces from the Baroque and Romantic periods, through to the 20th Century where the performer was also the composer (Edgar Meyer performing his own Concert Duo for Violin and Double Bass). It was an interesting program that exposed me to a variety of chamber music formats and styles.

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Wendy Zhang, CutCommon

Lark’s surname proved appropriate in the Preludio from Bach’s Partita No 3, ascending and dipping with remarkable athleticism, the bowing bariolage smooth and rapid and with seemingly effortless accuracy.

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Steve Moffatt, Daily Telegraph (Sydney)

Precision, grace, and white-hot technique

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Angus McPherson, Limelight (Australia)

The Ashmont Hill Chamber Music series scored something of a coup by bringing rising violin phenom Tessa Lark in for a rare Boston appearance Sunday at AHCM’s usual venue at Peabody Hall of All Saints Church, Dorchester.

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Vance R. Koven, The Boston Musical Intelligencer

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra was on fire Saturday night at the Garde Arts Center, and violin soloist Tessa Lark appeared to be the spark. A crowd of 700 at the Garde gave the most extended standing ovation of the season to Lark, who came onto the stage with a shimmering dress and broad smile before absolutely tearing up the joint with a concerto titled "Sky" by contemporary composer Michael Torke, who wrote the piece co-commissioned by the ECSO after being inspired by Lark's energetic playing.

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Lee Howard, The Day (New London, CT)

Sky is a bluegrass inspired violin concerto written for Tessa Lark. It's the latest in a long string of ASO commissions of Michael Torke, who Music Director David Alan Miller called "about my favorite composer in the world." Miller's allegiance is not misplaced. Torke writes music that is energetic, tuneful and brilliantly orchestrated. The new concerto is among Torke's best, right there alongside his 2015 piano concerto Three Manhattan Bridges. The opening sounds of Sky come from the violin and the tambourine. There's an immediate feel of country music, but also the noble spirit of Copland. In a piece tailored to her strengths, Lark played with apparent ease and unaffected beauty.

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Joseph Dalton, Times Union (Albany, NY)

The violinist, who has appeared with dozens of American orchestras and is a Naumburg winner, among other prestigious awards, made an impressive recital debut at Matinee Musicale ... She made her Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra debut at age 16. Now 29, she plays with an easy virtuosity. But she also charmed the audience at Anderson Center on Thursday with her down-to-earth personality and sense of humor as she spoke about each piece that she was performing with her pianist, Andrew Armstrong.

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Janelle Gelfand, Janelle's Notes
Tessa Lark performing Corigliano's "The Red Violin: Suite" in Central Park with Ensemble LPR led by Ankush Bahl (center left).

The 25-minute Red Violin: Suite is culled from Corigliano’s score to the 1998 François Giraud film of the same name and uses a haunting chaconne as its organizing principle…When the solo part featured a soft, ghostly melody in the extreme upper register, Lark was especially secure, her intonation and tone control pristine. Some variations turned fast and furious, with heavily accented 16th note and triplet patterns, overlaid with double and triple stops. In these showier passages, Lark ratcheted up the intensity, applying quicksilver bow strokes, perhaps carried over from her work in bluegrass fiddling and Appalachian music…Lark was a persuasive advocate for this modern but readily approachable music.

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Brian Wise, Strings

The projectile whizzed past Tessa Lark’s ear just as she was trying to put into words what makes the Marlboro Music School and Festival here so special. Ms. Lark, a violinist, was eating dinner last Saturday at a long table crowded with musicians and their families. Later in the evening, she was to perform Brahms’s Piano Quintet alongside the pianist Mitsuko Uchida, Marlboro’s artistic director.

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Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times

Is it okay to play bluegrass on a Stradivarius? The answer, of course, is "yes," but violinist Tessa Lark did wrestle with the question ... "At first I felt bad playing bluegrass on a Stradivarius. But it turns out that it sounds really great on a Strad," Lark said, "and bluegrass music deserves as fine a violin as any genre of music."

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Laurie Niles, Violinist.com

It was clear right away that this concerto was in very good hands, as she sailed through the first movement, carrying off those high notes with confidence and control. At the same time, the lady in red was not a grandstanding musician. She communicated deep concentration. The Adagio was the highlight. Lark showed a glorious legato singing tone in that sublime opening theme, and gave just the right whimsical touch to the trilling birdsong that comes a bit later. She has a stellar sense for dynamics. 

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Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News

Tessa Lark’s appearance last Sunday in the Phillips Collection’s weekly concert series was a touchstone of the Washington concert season. Lark’s performance specialty is communicative immediacy, removing the violin from its above-it-all “diva” status among orchestra instruments into a direct narrative interplay with the audience’s ears.

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David Rohde, DC Metro Theater Arts

The Phillips Collection presented two dynamic musicians of the millennial generation, violinist Tessa Lark and pianist Roman Rabinovich, in an excellent recital Sunday at the Cosmos Club ...The duo made a stellar combination in two slightly older pieces, beginning with a richly interpreted, smoldering performance of the first violin sonata of Brahms ... Bartok’s first violin sonata, which brought out the more explosive side of both performers, ended the program ... [Lark's]  “Appalachian Fantasy” ... combines classical and bluegrass idioms more naturally than the work of her mentor, Mark O’Connor.

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Charles T. Downey, The Washington Post

Lark and Armstrong gave an imposing performance that appropriately achieved symphonic proportions while also finding the movement’s many introspective passages.

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Mike Telin, ClevelandClassical.com
Corigliano, with soloist Lark, addresses CityMusic Cleveland audience at October 20 performance of his "Red Violin Concerto."

Tessa Lark ... displayed both an abundance of energy and great technical discipline. She cleanly dispatched what Corigliano calls “knuckle-breaking double harmonics” in the second movement scherzo, delivered an arresting recitative followed by flautando effects in the Andante, and proved to be rock-solid in the challenge Corigliano throws at the soloist in the finale — to play intentionally out of sync with the orchestra as soloist and ensemble accelerate the tempo at different times.

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Daniel Hathaway, ClevelandClassical.com

Lark has fully mastered the daunting score, and her performance Thursday night was a marvel of emotional concentration, technical prowess and not a little showmanship.

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Mark Satola, Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

The Troy Chromatics launched its 121st season on Friday evening with a return engagement of the American violinist Tessa Lark with pianist Ellen Hwangbo... Lark’s 2014 debut in the series is widely remembered as a triumph. Friday evening’s concert confirmed that Lark is an accomplished and expressive artist worthy of all the fuss.

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Joseph Dalton, Albany Times Union

It’s astonishing that it has taken almost 20 years for Edgar Meyer’s Violin Concerto to be heard anywhere in Illinois, let alone Chicago... [and] Tessa Lark provided superb advocacy as solo protagonist. She coaxed a gorgeous tone from her "ex-Gingold" Stradivarius and was wholly in sync with the music. 

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Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

Lark, a native of Kentucky who won the Avery Fisher Career Grant this past year, was playing this concerto for the first time in four appearances with the South Florida Symphony. Her Boca performance was the first time she’d played it in public, and she did so with sparkle and accuracy, carefully carving out the yearning opening theme with precision and suavity and making short work of the acrobatics that followed.

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Greg Stepanich, Palm Beach ArtsPaper

Young violinist Tessa Lark has an unerring sense of pitch combined with a formidable technique; she easily navigated her way through the difficult cadenza in the first movement of the concerto, then through the melodic filigree of the second, and finally through the knotty technical problems of the rondo.

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William Hemminger, Evansville Courier & Press

To the rescue [in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3] came violinist Tessa Lark, the 26-year-old budding superstar who recently received an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Not only did the Kentucky native solidify the ensemble, she provided a lovely lyricism and rhythmic inflection that connected palpably. Cadenzas were beautifully rendered and infused with playfulness, sighs and effortless double- and triple-stops. While not a forceful soloist, she projected Mozart’s elegance with warmth and conviction.

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Michael Huebner, ArtsBHAM

Lark played with a maturity beyond her 26 years, and her navigation of the sprawling structure of the linked first and second movements showed a fine understanding of the composer's dramatic intent. Her tone was rich and colorful ... and more than once her confidence, as she attacked the highest reaches of her instrument, drew a murmur of appreciation from the audience.

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Zachary Lewis, Cleveland.com

Tessa Lark. Who is that, you ask? Go to Google for details; for now, know that she is a highly skilled violinist who will absolutely make you sit up and pay attention. Whatever the performance category — accuracy, tonal quality, musicianship, energy, etc. — she is one of the best young violinists you will ever hear.

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Greg Barnes, FreeTimes

Lark is that rare performer who transforms classical music into a full body experience, captivating to watch, yet projecting an authenticity that feels as genuine as her musicianship.

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Milton Moore, The Day

The concert concluded with a terrific rendition of Bartok’s Piano Quintet by the violinists Tessa Lark and Amy Galluzzo, Mr. Mosloff, the cellist Michael Dahlberg and the pianist Nicolas Namoradze, whose sensitivity and coloristic playing enhanced the bristling, high-energy performance.

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Vivian Schweitzer, The New York Times
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