Michi networks her way from New York

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SOCIAL networking has changed most of our lives.

It was a chance encounter on Myspace three years ago that led to an unusual and enduring musical collaboration: the result of which will be showcased at a concert in The Corn Exchange, Melrose, later this month.

The website brought together two musicians from very different backgrounds: the classically-trained New York-based violinist Kono Michi and Galashiels guitarist Mike Sorensen Small, a founder member of acclaimed indie rock band Dawn of the Replicants.

The pair became friends and met for the first time the following year.

Although from diverse genres, both Michi and Mike had aspirations to write and record music, the former wishing to spread her wings into the world of non-classical music and the latter wanting to extend his interests into orchestral arrangements.

They began collaborating across the ether, using the internet to exchange ideas.

Michi would record Mike’s violin and viola compositions and email them to Scotland where he would return the favour by recording the guitar and bass parts she requested.

Then, when Mike and his brother Roger Simian, also formerly of Dawn of the Replicants, set up Shark Batter Records, Michi was delighted to sign to the label.

“I thought it would be a lot more fun working with friends than signing to a faceless city-based corporation, and so it proved,” she recalled this week.

Though Michi has never previously performed in the Borders, she was keen to include a local date in her forthcoming UK tour, not least because, as well as Mike, her backing band are all based in the region.

For joining her and Mike on stage in Melrose will be lead guitarist Cameron Jack from Stow, bassist Richard Crawford from Galashiels and drummer Grant Pringle from Innerleithen.

Kono Michi began playing violin at the age of three and spent up to five hours practising every day.

She has performed solos with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics and played on many occasions with classical megastar, the French-born cellist Yo Yo Ma.

She has also toured the world as a musician with the renowned Mark Morris Dance Troup.

Recently described by one reviewer as “a Bjork-like brooding wonderland”, Michi now finds herself appealing to fans of both classical and indie music with tracks on which she features being played regularly on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music.

Her impressive CV includes playing lead violin on the soundtrack of the Holywood movie Mr Holland’s Opus, starring Richard Dreyfus, and she has recently finished shooting her part in a new film called Greetings from Tim Buckley in which she portrays a violinist in a band whose line-up includes Frank Bello (Anthrax), Penn Badgely (Gossip Girl) and Bill Sadler (Shawshank Redemption).

She is also in demand as a teacher and last year spent a month in Columbia mentoring musically-gifted children.

Kono Michi’s debut performance in the Borders at the Corn Exchange on Saturday, October 29, starts at 7.30pm.

Tickets (£7.50) are available from Merlin Music in Melrose, Moondogs in Galashiels and from Red Shed Tickets on 08432 898 555).