Anyone lucky enough to be in the audience for the Idyllwild Arts Academy Alumni Jazz Concert on March 5 heard many superb musicians. Choosing one performer to write about from company like that can only be arbitrary, but Nora Germain’s youth might make her especially interesting: she’s just twenty-four, having graduated from the Academy in 2009.
Yet her career is far along, as shown by the appearance this month of both her new music album, Go For It, and her first book, Go For It: Surviving the Challenges of Becoming an Artist.
The saxophonist and award-winning composer and arranger John Altman calls Nora “the best jazz violinist in the world, bar none,” and last year Downbeat magazine highlighted her as a Rising Star of Jazz Violin.
She finished her freshman and sophomore years at a public high school in Madison, Wisconsin, and then “I had to beg my parents to go to Idyllwild” because “I was feeling underwhelmed in Wisconsin.”
Nora admits that until then “nothing had inspired me on a deep level.”
But inspiration is never lacking for very long at Idyllwild Arts. For Nora, feeling uninspired lasted only until she met “this amazing teacher who gives you so much responsibility and love” and who can “know what you’re going to be good at even when you don’t know it yourself”: the honoree of that March 5 Alumni Jazz Concert, Marshall Hawkins.
About the effect of Marshall’s teaching on her, Nora says “it’s just a matter of passing on a little drop of fuel to ignite you.”
Now she does plenty of igniting herself.