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Violinist Guy Braunstein Launches Beatles-Themed "Blackbird Challenge"

The Israeli-American violinist is offering a number of prizes to violinists who upload their own performance of his "Blackbird Variations" to social media


Israeli-American violinist Guy Braunstein has launched a new project: the Blackbird Challenge. The challenge invites violinists from all over the world to record themselves performing at least a section of Braunstein's Blackbird Variations, which are based on the Beatles' 1968 hit of the same name.

Picking up on the original song's themes, Braunstein reworked "Blackbird" as a virtuoso work for the violin in 2020, as part of the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd.

As part of the challenge, Braunstein has now made the score available for free online. Violinists should learn the entire work, or a section of it, and upload their performance to social media, in order to submit for a prize.

Prizes include a special arrangement of a song by Braunstein (to be chosen by the winner), online lessons, and signed copies of Braunstein's forthcoming album, featuring his Abbey Road Concerto for violin and orchestra.

"I knew the original song 'Blackbird' was written in 1968 by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in direct relations with the civil rights movement," Braunstein said. "In 2020, with the horrible death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter demonstrations began in the US and abroad. I felt a need to say something, too."

"So one night around midnight, I went to my studio with my violin, a piece of music paper and a pencil. By sunrise, I came up with this: "Blackbird — Six Variations on a Theme of John Lennon & Paul McCartney for Solo Violin". It is not only a reminder of the things that happened in 2020, but should be a constant reminder for all of us to care for each other, for equality and for peace. These are things that will always be relevant."

You can hear Braunstein performing the variations below, and you can download the score for free here.


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