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Christian Howes was nominated recently for jazz “Violinist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association, Christian was voted first place in the 2011 Downbeat Critics Poll (rising stars/jazz violin). The Minneapolis Tribune calls Christian “arguably the most intriguing young violinist in jazz." He performs worldwide with his own ensembles and as a guest soloist with orchestras and bands, and is widely regarded as one of the leaders in jazz violin. A local musician answers five Free Press questions. Christian Howes FP: Put together your fantasy band, dead or alive. CH: Luckily my fantasy band is the same as my actual band, although we don't get to play together consistently on a regular basis. When we can, it's a real blast. The group consists of Hamilton Hardin on keyboards, Cedric Easton on drums, Dean Hulett on bass and Josh Hill on guitar. After living in New York City for eight years, and having a chance to play with a lot of world-class players, I can't overstate what a joy it's been to be able to put together a true working band with world-class players based in or near Columbus. And there's simply no substitute for having an ensemble of musicians with whom you develop trust over a long period of time. FP: What's the best, most exciting concert, music event you've been to? CH: One of the best, or most exciting, concerts that I've been a part of was during the six-night run when I performed jazz at Lincoln Center this last March. As a listener one of the most exciting concerts I've seen was at the 55 Bar in New York City with David Binney. His quartet played at the 55 Bar a couple of years ago. FP: What the best (or most important) thing about the music scene in Columbus? CH: The best thing about the Columbus music scene is that Columbus provides the potential for any creative musician to make a living because there are so many people here, such a good cross section of people and so many potential venues. It's up to musicians to create an audience and nurture and create opportunities to promote their music and present their music in Columbus. It always frustrates me when I hear people talking about how there's nothing going on in Columbus because I really think it's up to artists to create the demand for their music. And that ability exists here in our city. FP: What's the most important issue going on in Columbus? CH: There are two problems in the city of Columbus that I'd like to see addressed. One is racial segregation. While Columbus is in many ways a liberal city, there's still a clear demarcation of white and black neighborhoods, middle class and poorer neighborhoods and I'd really like to see more effort be made to integrate the racial components and the class components of the city. The second thing is that, I would like Jet Blue to return to Columbus (laughs) and for us to have easier access from the airport to inexpensive air transport to more major hubs, and, as well, to have some kind of train access from Columbus, so that people could take the train to New York City or take the train to Chicago, because making transportation more inexpensive from Columbus to other cities would be an additional incentive for more creative people to be based in Columbus. FP: Chris, you've had to overcome a few "bumps" during your career, how did your talent and drive help you to overcome any obstacles you've encountered? CH: There were people in our community that recognized those things in me and were kind enough to give me chances and to give me opportunities. This is one of the things I like about Columbus. There are many people here at the university, in the music community, in the schools that care enough about their neighbors and are willing to give people chances. What’s next for Christian These days I only play in Columbus a few times a year. I'll be performing for City Music in January. During the first week in July every year, I present my annual Creative Strings Workshop and Festival. During the workshop and festival, I present at least 25 public performances throughout the greater Columbus area. Last year that involved over a hundred musicians both locally based and from far and wide. I'm also very excited about my online home study course for musicians. It's called the Creative Strings Academy and it currently serves over a thousand users worldwide, who engage with the curriculum on line to expand their musicianship through improvisation, composition, music theory and related subjects. I'm also very excited about my most recent album release, entitled Southern Exposure, which features jazz-inspired performances and arrangements of the music of Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, Spain and more.You can learn more about these projects and more at