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Crosscurrents logo 2021

A novel way to play old music: Use historic instruments

Photo courtesy of Suzanne Karp

Cellist Tanya Tomkins and fortepianist Eric Zivian both have years of experience playing Classical and Romantic chamber music on historic instruments. 

They believe that musicians and audiences alike can experience the music in an entirely new way if it's performed with deep understanding of the period style and instruments. 

TOMPKINS: There were a lot of jokes about people who would do early music. I myself joked about them when I was in conservatory, I was like 'Oh those people, who are they? They wear Birkenstocks and eat granola and they're so weird.'

Tompkins and Zivian started a music festival devoted to just that; the Valley of the Moon Festival. They spoke with KALW’s Jen Chien to discuss what it’s been like to launch the festival, and why this music is so important.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.