The Los Angeles Philharmonic wasn’t the only orchestra over the weekend to introduce a fancifully programmatic concerto by a composer born in 1968. In downtown, it was Richard Dubugnon’s “Battlefield” for the pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque. The New West Symphony’s contribution was the first local performance of Matthew Hindson’s Violin Concerto No. 1, “Australian Postcards.”
The New West program, which I heard Sunday afternoon at Barnum Hall in Santa Monica, was meant to be notable also because it was the first time a woman -- Sarah Ioannides -- conducted the orchestra founded in Thousand Oaks in 1995, But the woman who got all the attention for all the right, if curious, reasons was a Canadian violin soloist who has a reputation for eccentricity.
Lara St. John happens to be a volcanic violinist with a huge, fabulous tone that pours out of her like molten lava. She has technique to burn and plays at a constant high heat. She is uninhibited, sometimes strikingly so.