Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
From left, Tim Kantor, Madalyn, Professor Ik-Hwan Bae (our stellar quartet coach), me, and Gerry Varona.
Good day, all!
After a whirlwind of a winter break, I am back at
Madalyn and I began the New Year with an energetic duo concert in New York City at the New York Musician’s Club (also known as “The Bohemians”), which is held in the gorgeous Kosciuszko Foundation House. In addition to the many enthusiastic and interesting music lovers who comprised the audience, Madalyn and I had the great pleasure of meeting composer Seymour Barab, whose boisterous (and groovy!) Partita for Violin and Cello was on our program. We had contacted Mr. Barab in December in hopes of playing his piece for him before performing it publicly, but we were surprised to find that he was perfectly content to wait to hear our interpretation at the concert itself! In the end he was delighted with the performance, and is eagerly awaiting our recording of it!
Yes, I did say “recording!” Madalyn and I are currently working on our third album of duos, tentatively entitled “Living Music 2010.” We are particularly enthused about the repertoire on this album, as it will consist entirely of music by living composers. Our first recording session took place in early January at IU, and we began our project with Mr. Barab’s piece, as well as William Bolcom’s stunning Suite for Violin and Violoncello. We are incredibly grateful to our producer David Dzubay, the conductor of IU’s New Music Ensemble, of which both Madalyn and I are members, and Grammy Award-winning recording engineer, Konrad Strauss, for agreeing to be a part of this project. Our next recording session will be in March, but in the meantime we are taking advantage of the precious opportunities available at JSoM.
Such opportunities included string quartet masterclasses with the Pacifica Quartet and the Johannes Quartet. Madalyn and I are enjoying immensely working with Tim Kantor and Gerry Varona, violinist and violist respectively, on Schubert’s incomparable Quartet in d minor, “Death and the Maiden,” and Bartok’s enthralling Quartet No.5. The experience of playing such powerful music for such superior musicians is simply inexpressible.
Next on the agenda is a concert at the
Best wishes for a wonderful start to the New Year!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Madalyn and I have had a few months to settle into life at
Most recently, an extraordinary student composer named Gabriel Gutierrez attended JSoM’s New Music Ensemble concert, of which Madalyn and I are proud members, and contacted us soon thereafter, saying he would like to write a duo and dedicate it to duo parnas. Naturally, we were thrilled! With just four days of preparation, we presented the world premier of the duo, entitled “Three Semblances,” in JSoM’s stunning Auer Hall. The piece itself is masterful, rife with varied textures, intricate rhythms, and captivating characters. Wonderful composer, wonderful piece! We are looking forward to performing “Three Semblances” again in the near future.
As a result of a series of very fortunate events, I am currently working with another spectacular musician – pianist Kati Gleiser. A student of Menahem Pressler, Kati is a beautiful person and player, and her enthusiasm and commitment to the art of music-making are positively infectious. We have begun tackling the sonata repertoire and are planning a recital for next semester. I am deeply grateful to her for her generosity with her time and talents. To read more about Kati, please see her biography on Menahem Pressler’s website:http://menahempressler.org/?page_id=302
Perhaps the best part of being at the JSoM is that Madalyn and I are lucky enough to be able to study under two such marvelous people as Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, whose technical mastery and consummate artistry is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Dedicated to their teaching, they take a personal interest in each of their students, pushing us to be better musicians and artists, while at the same time allowing us room to grow at our natural pace. Being the wonderful people they are, they are more than just teachers – they are our mentors and supporters, and we could not be more honored to be in their studios.
The JSoM is a musician’s paradise. The opportunities to be found there are life-changing, and the palpable excitement of making music, whether it be old or new, is inspiring beyond what words can express. Madalyn and I are absolutely delighted and honored to be a part of it.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Madalyn and I have just returned from a two-week trip to
We began our adventures in
A short plane ride and several pounds of luggage away was
An eye-opening and perspective-altering experience was this trip, and my dream to become at least trilingual and live in
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
This blog is inspired by my new cello student, Teddy.
Teaching is a very inspirational experience for me, because the concept of passing on my passion for music to someone else I find very exciting. It is such a rich experience, watching someone else begin on the same path that I am following, and being there to help and be a part of it.
Of course, along with teaching comes a rather important set of responsibilities. As a teacher I have substantial influence on my student’s first introduction to music, and it is crucial that this introduction be a positive experience.
As luck would have it, Teddy and I seem to have “hit it off.” She is ten years old and came to me with no experience playing any instruments and no knowledge of how to read music, but in just three weeks time, her progress has skyrocketed. She now has perfect understanding of bass clef and basic rhythms, and can play “Twinkle” almost fluently, and from memory! Not only this, but she is also enthusiastic about playing the cello and asks relevant, interesting questions. What a rewarding process!
I also am a bit nostalgic when it comes to teaching because I am reminded time and again of my first teacher, Erica, who is responsible for making my first introduction to music and the cello wonderfully fun and encouraging. I hope to give Teddy as positive an experience as Erica gave me, so that she will continue with the cello even after I leave for Indiana! (But hopefully she will play for me over winter break. J )
Sunday, January 3, 2010
I thought it would be interesting to write a blog about music competitions, and I invite anyone who wishes to share their thoughts and comments to do so.
The tricky thing about competitions is that while they are an avenue to getting heard by people whom one would not ordinarily meet, they are perhaps better in theory than in practice. I say this because music, after all, is art, and art is subjective. In such a case as this, it is nigh impossible to say if one musician is better than another. (Who is to say that a Monet painting is “better” than a Renoir?) Therefore, due to the subjectivity of the endeavor, the winners of these competitions are chosen based on a few variables: the political connections of the competitors; the judges’ biases; or to whom the judges simply and inexplicably take a fancy.
Interestingly, a very similar situation is found in the equestrian arena. Some judges are particularly endeared to gray horses – others not – and the end result is the manifestation of their psychological quirks. Imagine picking a musician to win a competition based on the color of his or her instrument – ridiculous!
This little blog obviously does not fully examine the many gears of competitions’ inner workings, but in summary, nearly all of what happens in the competition world is determined by politics and bias, because there is no definite measuring stick with which one can judge art. One must decide whether it is worth it to gamble one’s time and resources on an endeavor with an unpredictable outcome. So much is the luck of the draw. However, my personal advice to anyone who is interested is to participate if you are able, but to remain emotionally uninvested; you will drive yourself crazy if you care too much about others’ opinions of your playing!
Happy New Year!