Violinist from Saskatchewan nominated for Grammy

Violinist Christina Day Martinson, from Saskatchewan, is nominated in the classical instrumental solo category for ``Biber: The Mystery Sonatas.''. The Canadian Press / HO - Carl Chow

When Christina Day Martinson left her house Friday morning to drive her kids to school, she didn’t expect to return home a Grammy Award nominee.

But the violinist, who grew up in Saskatoon, is learning that one accolade sometimes leads to another. Earlier this week, her album Biber: The Mystery Sonatas was chosen as one of the year’s best classical recordings by the Chicago Tribune.

The adrenaline rush of being praised by the newspaper was still wearing off when one of her colleagues phoned to share the Grammy news, while she was on the road.

“I was screaming, ‘No way, really?’ Just all these superlatives,” the 42-year-old performer said during a call from Boston.

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“I was very excited – more excited than I realized I would be.”

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Martinson, concertmaster for the Boston Baroque, splits the nomination in the classical instrumental solo category with conductor Martin Pearlman.

Their version of Bohemian-Austrian composer Heinrich Biber’s 15 “mystery sonatas,” written in the mid-1600s, has been praised for unearthing a deeper meaning in the pieces, which are inspired by the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Biber’s composition is recognized for its complexity, which involves re-tuning the strings of the instrument during the performance. With all 15 mysteries played over three hours – with two intermissions – the live performance is gruelling.

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“For me, it was a very intense spiritual journey,” she remembered of the recording made in March 2017.

“Whatever you believe, whether you’re religious or not, it’s a very powerful story to be experiencing. And I really felt like I was going on this journey through all the sonatas.”

Heading to the Grammys on Feb. 10 will be an entirely new experience to take in, Martinson said. But first she’ll have to explain what it all means to her kids.

When she was celebrating her Grammy nomination in the car, her two boys, aged six and eight, sat puzzled in the back seat.

They hadn’t heard of the Grammys, but they wanted to know more.

“When I pick them up I’ll probably elaborate,” Martinson said.

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