Violinist Edgar Gabriel was classically trained but the Arlington Heights resident is a gifted performer of diverse styles of music, including jazz, rock, blues, Gypsy, and Latin, among others. He has performed with Cirque du Soleil, Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson and Mannheim Steamroller, plus many others. He also leads an innovative performing ensemble called StringFushion, composes, and teaches.
Q: What was one of your most memorable violin performances?
A: I loved working with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas. I was playing “Mystere” and “Dralion.” I’ve had a lot of fun gigs. I remember playing on St. Patrick’s Day with the Chicago Rovers to a packed audience. I played with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page with a small orchestra. I could go on and on. I love all the different things I do.
Q: How is StringFusion breaking down musical barriers?
A: We do a lot of school shows. We show how people emigrated from different countries and brought with them their music. All this music came to the United States and became something different. For instance, the Irish brought their music over here and that combined with a lot of African American music. I also show how the violin is a big part of that.
Q: Where are you currently teaching?
A: At Harper College and at Elmhurst College.
Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?
A: I teach traditional violin and it’s great to see someone get really good at the violin. Also, I introduce them to jazz and rock and blues. We have an electric strings ensemble at Elmhurst College. When you have a student that’s really working hard, it’s a great feeling.
Q: Are you married?
A: Yes, my wife’s name is Melissa.
Q: Do you have children?
A: My daughter Annabel is 14 and my son Joe is 11.
Q: Do you have any pets?
A: I had a cat for many years. He lived to be 21. His name was Zappa after Frank Zappa.
Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Arlington Heights?
A: It’s a great community. The schools are fantastic and we just love our neighbors.
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: I love Grande Jackes Fresh Mexican Grill. I love Johnnie’s Beef, and Gumrai Thai in downtown Arlington Heights.
Q: What book are you currently reading?
A: “Frank Lloyd Wright’s $10,000 Home” by Robert J. Hartnett.
Q: What would be your dream vacation?
A: We went to Europe with the family over spring break. That turned out to be a wonderful vacation. You never know until it’s over whether it was the dream vacation.
Q: What do you do to unwind?
A: I watch movies with my family and play sports with my son. We also have a family house in Green Lake, Wisconsin.
Myrna Petlicki is a freelancer.
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