SUMMER 2015NEXT LEVEL JOURNALS[ STRINGS ]RANAAN MEYER ENTERTAINMENT
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ContentsSUMMER 2015FEATURED ARTISTS3 The Art of AchievingYour DreamKATHLEEN WINKLER14 Peter Wiley20 Fresh off the AuditionCircuitREX SURANY26 Repertoire is theGreatest TeacherROBERTO DIAZCONTRIBUTORSRanaan MeyerPUBLISHER / FOUNDERNorma MeyerJoanne ErwinEmily MeyerBrent EdmondsonCO-EDITORSRob BiancoSALES AND OPERATIONSKaren HanART DIRECTORCurran McSwiganKendall CecchettiniTRANSCRIBERS
LETTER FROM THEPUBLISHERAs publisher of Next Level Journals I truly feel like I am the mostfortunate reader to take part. I get to learn so much from somany. This summer release marks the first Strings journal. It’s thebeginning of an era and I could not be more proud of what thecontributors have to offer this time around.As usual they are all artists that I have respected either mywhole life or have discovered throughout my journeys and amcompletely enamored with. I believe you, as the reader will findextreme joy and discovery from this release.More specifically, in this edition you have the ability to learn aboutauditioning from Kathleen Winkler and Rex Surany. I appreciatedthe vast generosity of Peter Wiley and how he looks at his musicalexperiences as graciously as anyone I’ve ever known. Finally,Roberto Diaz will show you that the unknown is worth discoveringand being open to everything that is thrown your way may lead toa career.Ultimately each one of these artists are epic in their teaching,performance, and in some cases even entrepreneurial skills. Thefuture of our craft is exciting and they have enlightened us bysimply being who they are. I encourageeach one of you to do the same in your own way.Ranaan MeyerPublisher Next Level JournalsTime for Three Founder and BassistEducation We All Deserve FoundationFounderRanaan Meyer EntertainmentIndianapolis Symphony Artist in ResidenceSun Valley Summer Symphony Artistand Composer in ResidenceCharley Creek Arts Festival Artistic Director
THE ART OF ACHIEVINGYOUR DREAM5KATHLEENWINKLER,VIOLINISTAND TEACHERAs a whole, the audition experience shouldbe regarded as an exciting and inspirationalmulti-faceted journey that brings young, aspiringmusicians one step closer to realizing theirdreams. After all, how often does one have theopportunity to take center stage with a captiveaudience of celebrated musicians whose solepurpose at that moment is to have you as thetotal focus of their attention? Perhaps thisnotion comes across as overly Utopian but Iwould like to believe that the audition processis the culmination and realization of a lifetime ofdedication and faith. My own students know thatI enthusiastically embrace their audition pursuits,encouraging them to march purposefullytowards their goals, following the same upwardtrajectory of practice, commitment, passion, andpurpose they already exercise on a daily basis.Far too often, however, I have witnessed auditionpreparations reduced to countless months oflaborious practice and excessive hand wringing,the big “A” word a dark, foreboding cloudlooming overhead.Consider the words rendition and audition.Separated in spelling by a mere three letters, thecontrast in their connotations can be striking.Would you feel more at ease presenting “aperformance or interpretation, especially of adramatic role or piece of music” or, “interviewingfor a particular role or job as a singer, actor,dancer, or musician, consisting of a practicaldemonstration of the candidates suitabilityand skill.” These are the definitions of renditionand audition, respectively, as stated in theNew Oxford American Dictionary. While bothdefinitions contain a performance component,the word rendition implies an invitation to share;audition, for scrutiny and evaluation. It iswith the spiritual mindset of a rendition thatthe term audition is used in the followingparagraphs. When it is all said and done,performance is about sharing one’s heartfeltperspective on music.When navigating through a musical landscape,it is helpful to operate along a wide band ofwell-informed, organized strategies. Manyof these are already known to be matters ofcommon sense yet, oftentimes, we fail to heedthem. Strategic planning is not unlike buildinga sandwich with multiple, carefully layeredingredients, each contributing a distinctive flavorand texture to the whole. I’ve assembled myown musical sandwich below. If you’ve evertaken an audition, see if you spot yourself withinany of its layers of “ingredients.” Or perhaps, thiswill inspire you to formulate a sandwich of yourown design.
61 DREAM BIG• Identifying goals - personal roadmaps for moving towardssuccess - is the major fuel that drives most of us. Approachauditions anticipating a favorable outcome, and not just“for the experience.”• Pair aspirations with a passionate, proactive mindset. Aclearly defined game plan is a mighty and propelling force,directly impacting both the course and quality of one’spreparation.• Exhibit the tenacity of a bulldog. Think of Ironman competitionswhere, through sheer will power, athletes accomplish featsthat push well beyond the norm (pulling trains or lifting cars).• Take ownership of lofty goals, not hesitating to aim forthe top. Would your preparation be any less serious for aTier B orchestra than one ranked as Tier A? (orchestras arecategorized by the size of their annual budgets, beginningwith the largest ones, such as the New York Philharmonic, inthe A category) By setting one’s sights on the bottom rung ofthe ladder, the journey to the top may be long, arduous, andperhaps, unnecessarily drawn out. In my experience, those ofmy students who dreamt big and believed that success waswell within their reach were handsomely rewarded for theirindomitable spirit (as well as their sandwich building skills).• Being an artist is a full time job; make it your mantra and carryyourself in that role 24/7. Act the artist - be the artist.2 THE COLOR OF COMMITMENT• Think green; taking auditions is not cheap. Travel, room,and board are pricey so make the investment count. Oncecommitted to taking an audition, consider it a contract withyourself. Backing out should not be an option.3 WORK AHEAD OF THE CURVE• Work well in advance of deadlines to maintain a calm,positive mindset. Having your back against the wall producesnoticeable anxiety, eroding self confidence, and a lost senseof well being. I think it is fair to say that we’ve all been there atleast once in our lives. Last minute scrambling breeds doubtso learn to work backwards from an audition date and vow tobe completely prepared at least a month in advance.• Be amenable to the idea of sitting on repertoire, letting itmature like a marvelously aged cheese. As the audition dateapproaches, it’s helpful to keep a cool head. Adopt a routineof slow, methodical drilling to avoid spinning into a tizzy
7and, more importantly, steer clear of injury from excessiveor frenetic repetition.• View the accomplishment of being a highly skilled artistas a positive gift and not as the chore of having to maintainBeethoven’s 9 th Symphony for another upcoming audition.The reality is that over the course of your professional career,repertoire is revisited many times.• Embrace your role as a musical emissary with prideand integrity.• Let go of the myth of “peaking.” When did Heifetz ever peakon the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto?4 ORGANIZE LIFE FOR THE NEXTFEW MONTHS• Assemble audition literature and music scores into bindersrather than having random, wrinkled pages fall out of instrumentcase pockets or crumpled on the bottom of book bags.• Keep your editions current. Are you working with a respectedversion of the Mozart Violin Concerto or a recycled, yellowingtattered copy, covered with bunny stickers that say, “good job”?5 COMPOSE A MENTAL SOUNDTRACK• While in the throes of practicing, how often do you find yourmind overtaken with random thoughts like where to meet yourfriends for dinner? There is a price to pay for mindless practicing.The printed page offers a consistent digital road map. You mustsupplement this with the cerebral agenda that keeps physicaland mental tracks connected, moving forward in tandem. Thismental road map can be as simple or complex as you desire- the choice is individual. There is a direct correlation betweenthe degree of your imaginative practice input to the measure ofcreative performance output. The road to becoming an artist isabout carving out an innovative path, from the practice room tothe stage, and everything in between.6 PLAY THE ODDS GAME• Everyone begins with an even playing field where thegoverning rule of the game is short and simple: one shotto deliver the goods. Ensuring solid odds is the linchpin forachieving success. Face the reality of how the odds gameworks. Think in terms of taking exams at school. Test A resultedin a grade of 100; however, test B produced a score of 0. Dothe math and the average score for the two exams is a 50. Nowapply that thinking to how you practice. Did you hit that gnarlyrun in Don Juan the first time? Great! You now have a 100percent chance of getting it right at your audition. Let’s try that
8run again, only this time, you go slightly sharp at the top. So now,you’re 1 out of 2, or 50/50 (1 good, 1 faulty). A third repetitionyields another not so successful execution, so now your averagehas plummeted even further to 1 out of 3 (1 good, 2 faulty) or33 ⅓ / 66 ⅔ The odds are now getting scary; remember theone shot rule. The intellectual game show Jeopardy is a classicexample of how this principle works; the more correct answersone produces, the higher the score rises. Deliver wrong answersand the number quickly descends into the red, eventuallyresulting in elimination from the game. Consistent incorrectresponses require an even greater percentage of right ones inorder to climb out of the hole and jump back into the game. Yourpractice odds should keep you out of the red.• Always practice with purpose and insist on perfection as thegoal; remember that if you can execute any task at least once,you can replicate it again; the key is in the hardwiring. Don’tforgive poor intonation or accept performances delivered in amental vacuum. Every repetition needs purpose, yielding positiveresults. Each pass factors into the overall average, and ultimatelydetermines the odds for success.• Expression is not a substitute for accuracy. If a passionateslide is part of the design, first ensure that the shift is precisebefore adding the accessory of a slide.7 THE POWER OF PLACE• The practice room is never the realitysetting. Performances or auditions are heldin all types of venue, from cavernously largeto intimately small, bone dry to blurringlyresonant. Executing a pianissimo dynamicor spiccato stroke in a small, acousticallylifeless environment will feel different fromdoing the same in a sizable hall. Likewise,projecting sound into an immense spacecan lure performers into forcing - all themore reason to explore and experimentwith different acoustical environments,even if it means accessing a concert hallat 11 p.m. after everyone has gone homefor the evening.Get comfortable with these potentialscenarios:• Playing on a stage that is dividedvertically by a screen, with the performeron one side and the committee memberson the other.• Performing in a room so small thatyou have veryup-close and personalrelationships with committee membersbefore your audition is over.• Having a proctor sit behind you onstage as you play your audition.
98 MAKE A RECORDING DEVICE YOURBEST FRIEND.• Pre-screening tapes have now become the norm for manyauditions; it’s also not uncommon for live auditions to be videotaped.If you aren’t already used to playing for a recordingdevice, make a sensible investment by purchasing one. Learnto communicate to your audience through a camera lens ormicrophone, it takes practice.• Spontaneous self-evaluation at the moment of performance ischallenging. Recording oneself and subsequently reviewing theresults in the role of an objective, third party listener, enables usto calmly hear the reality, versus the imagined perception, of theperformance.• While making DVD recordings, decide whether your bodymovements are apropos to the music, seamlessly integrated intothe results. Could they read as nervous mannerisms that act asphysical intrusions, impairing the end product? Particularly in thecase of CDs, the absence of visuals magnifies both the strong andweak elements in a performance and provides a more accuratereading of how we sound.9 THE PERFORMANCE OF PRACTICE• Repeated mock performances beginning weeks prior to theactual audition date are absolutely vital to success. Particularlywhen it comes to orchestral excerpts - mere fragments ofcomplete works - the ability to switch gears, from the SchumannScherzo right into Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony takespractice; this is a skill you need to develop. Truthfully, it’s not anyeasier transitioning from unaccompanied Bach to the SibeliusViolin Concerto. If you can’t find others for whom to play,remember your best friend, the recording device; make it yourtrusted ally.• Audition lists are often exhaustingly extensive, creatingunaccustomed physical and mental demands on the performer.Repeated mock auditions over the course of many weeks mayseem unnecessary but in fact, are part of endurance training,not unlike the process followed by athletes. A professional boxerfriend of my husband, when asked how he readied himself forhis boxing bouts, stated “I don’t get ready; I stay ready!”• I sometimes jokingly prepare my students for their dry runsby equating the experience to an international flight: oncetheir journey begins, they won’t stop or get off for a long time.When committing to presenting a mock performance, under nocircumstances should one stop. Finding a way out of a fudgedrun or brief memory lapse is a learned skill. Quite often, smallindiscretions at auditions are overlooked if handled deftly.• Practice audition repertoire in a random order. It’s not wiseto fixate on a specific arrangement or obsess about a plottedritual. Students are often (but not always) given the choice of thefirst selection at school auditions but for orchestra auditions, thelist is set. To create the sense of unpredictability, I once had astudent practice her trial runs by writing the names of excerpts
10on pieces of paper which she then drew randomly from a bag.• Before beginning a dry run, close your eyes for a good solidminute and visualize being in an actual audition environment.Begin playing from dead silence, as will be the case. Envisionplaying into a screen (or better yet, secure a screen) for yourorchestra audition or, for a college audition, facing a long tableseated with faculty members. Is the power of imagery resultingin an increase in adrenaline flow? Repeat these images oftenenough and by audition time, the actual event will seem lessintimidating and perhaps even like a familiar feeling as you havealready mentally transported yourself there many times before.• The effectiveness of a performance is strongly coloredby your emotional commitment. Think of great orators and theirskill sets which hypnotically draw audiences in. Your passionand zeal for the material being presented should be distinctlypalpable, even from behind a screen. A lack of true engagementspeaks louder than a finely crafted performance.• Think of the old proverb “Different strokes for differentfolks.” Be prepared to play passages from such excerpts asSchumann’s Scherzo or Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’sDream with varying tempi and bow strokes. Committees areknown to make these requests to applicants of interest.• No cell phones, texting, or Facebook while performing mockauditions (self explanatory!).10 KNOW THE SCORE/WEAR MULTIPLE HATS• Unless playing a solo work, it is incumbent to understandthe full context of concerti, concert pieces and orchestralexcerpts. Rehearsing a concerto or concert piece with a pianoreduction of the orchestral score offers a basic understandingof how the solo part intersects with the whole. Study of theoriginal orchestration provides the most complete insight intothe work’s intended presentation. When taking orchestralauditions, understand that committee members are intimatelyfamiliar with the excerpts being played; they have alreadyperformed the works countless times over the course of theircareers. Therefore, it is readily apparent to them if the applicantunderstands the full context of the excerpt. It is not unusual foraudition lists to contain works that an applicant, particularly ayounger one, has never encountered. If this is the case, and anopportunity to perform the work is not on the horizon, try playingalong with recordings. While a highly artificial situation, it stillmight provide enough of a glimpse into how the excerpt fitsinto the whole, and perhaps even allow for a slightly improvedcomfort level.• Are concerti being approached with the identical mindsetas the excerpts? Do they have similar dynamic scopes? Oneshould remain mindful that the concerto is the time to don asoloist hat and shine like a star; the presentation has to representan ability for, and understanding of, the skill sets required to soarabove a 90 piece orchestra, even if the audition is taking placewithin a small space. After all, why would a concerto be includedas part of the process if solo skills were not of interest to thecommittee?
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1211 HAVE YOU HANDED THEM A REASONTO ELIMINATE YOU?• While most committee members look forward to being movedby an outstanding performance, at the end of the day, it’s aboutthe weeding out process, and pinpointing a select few to moveforward. Is your sound quality the kind only a mother wouldlove? Is your pitch centered or are you creating a new tonalityunknown to western music? Checkered intonation, unstablerhythm, unclear, undecided, or uncommunicative musicaldecisions are just a few elements that will leave you vulnerableto elimination. Prepare for perfection by not running away fromobvious problems. Tackle them head on in the practice room or, asmy daughter’s cello teacher (Brinton Smith, principal cellist of theHouston Symphony) puts it,“Stick your face in it!” If you are ableto play any passage perfectly just once, it means that you can doit again. They key is practicing to put the odds in your favor (referback to item #6).• Are you making peculiar noises while you play such aswheezing or heavy breathing? Your potential stand partner couldbe on the committee and will most likely not want to spend therest of his/her career sitting next to an incessant wheezer orgroaner. Internalize intellectual, musical,and technical goals,but externalize these ideas exclusively through your arms, notwith extraneous, nervous body movements or unearthly sounds,all of which will be distracting.12 SELF REFLECTION• Worrying about others is meaningless as it’s all aboutthe individual product. At any audition, it’s inevitable thatcommittees will hear countless renditions of the same work,presented with a plethora of playing styles. Your job should be tofocus on communicating your take on the works at hand with ahighly individualized, compelling performance. A quick personalstory: Years ago, I judged a concerto competition where notone, but two string players entered with the Schoenberg ViolinConcerto. I had never heard the concerto before but knew itto be an enigmatic work and wondered what kind of receptionit would receive from both the mixed panel of judges andaudience. Much to my delight, both Schoenberg performers,who presented compelling yet divergent interpretations, made itto the final round. Eventually, one of them won the competition,receiving a standing ovation from the audience.• Frequently, candidates taking orchestra auditions share acommon warm up area and are provided with an individualpractice space only prior to their specific audition time. Itis challenging to filter out the sounds of others warming upnearby. I have known people who have taken to noise reducingearphones or iPods to help stay mentally serene and tune outthe cacophony of 30 violinists simultaneously practicing AMidsummer Night’s Dream.• Someone who may sound like Heifetz backstage or through aclosed door may not necessarily be able to recreate that magicwhen it counts. Don’t be spooked by what you hear around you.
The only time that matters is when on stage.• Committee members will like what they like. You may beworrying unnecessarily about your nemesis who is playing in thehour after you. A committee may prefer one person’s sound overanother, or they may be equally enamored with both.There is arange for opportunity.• When taking orchestral auditions, beware the slippery slopeof temporarily reconstructing your playing towards a specificorchestra’s style. Individuals who solicit excessive amounts offeedback often tend to sound like musical patchwork quilts - aconfusion of varying, sometimes conflicting, opinions stitchedtogether. Be true to your own musical values. If a committeetakes to your playing, you may be asked to repeat an excerpt ina style more compatible with how the orchestra performs.13 LIFE AS A TRAVELING ARTIST• Avoid travel on the same day as the audition. Hitting theroad is exhausting and, particularly in the case of air travel, nolonger as reliable or friendly towards musicians as it used to be.After months of preparation, is it really wise to risk arriving to theaudition the day of, exhausted or unfocused?• It’s prudent to arrive early for auditions, leaving ampletime to find the hall/school and become oriented with thesurroundings. I know of situations where auditions were misseddue to getting lost, arriving late, and missing flights.14 MAKE FLEXIBILITY YOUR MIDDLE NAME• Normally not a morning person? Switch up your routine andrise with the sun. Welcome early morning practices; you mayhave to see that hour at one of your auditions. Wouldn’t it bebetter to make friends with it beforehand?• For any number of reasons, your normal warm up ritualsmay not be possible at the audition venue, so plan to do thembeforehand at home or at the hotel. Be able to function wellwith minimal warm up or on short notice; often, schedules canchange, so be prepared to play earlier or later than expected.• Carry power snacks and water. Long days are common andfood sources not always nearby. Also, take layers of clothes forpotential temperature fluctuations within buildings.
1415 YOU ARE WHAT/HOW YOU PRACTICE.• Sit silently for 5 minutes. It’s remarkable just how long 300seconds can last, sometimes moving at a seemingly glacialspeed. Much can be accomplished within that short span of time;yet, there is a tendency to squander large amounts of our daythrough frivolous distractions and unfocused practice.• If a passage doesn’t seem to be improving over time,re-evaluate fingerings or musical objectives, or both. Recognizethe stagnation and take steps towards positive change. The greatPolish violin pedagogue Tadeusz Wronski famously used to say tohis students “Garbage in, garbage out…..”• In a nutshell, practicing is about the confluence oftroubleshooting and wise decision making. In my home, thelid of my washing machine provides me with a list that readssomething along the lines of: “If this problem happens…checkthis.” I encourage my students to use a similar approach in theirpracticing by understanding the cause and effect relationship oftheir decisions/actions. If a passage is out of tune, then checkthis… Is your sound quality in Brahms causing eyebrows to goup? Then look towards the sound checklist for improvementoptions. By assembling a personalized laundry list that pairsproblems with potential corresponding solutions, practicing canbe far more efficient and productive. Nearly all obstacles havemultiple alternatives for improvements; fostering creative thinkingin the practice room is key. I encourage my students to hardwirereliable, creative solutions for the moment which can always bereassessed or redesigned for future performances.16 DON’T BE A GAMBLER• If the requirements call for learning an entire movement, dojust that. Trying to second guess how far a committee will listenis playing with fire; you can easily get burned.• Knowing that many auditions tend to hover around a brieften minutes, the temptation to focus on select, “standard”sections within lengthy movements or complete works is almosttoo irresistible. However, are you really willing to risk gamblingaway your entire investment (time and money) for a few lesshours of practice?Some interesting case studies:• A few years years back, a friend auditioning for a majororchestra was asked to begin playing Don Juan on thesecond page.• I was once present at an audition where the applicantwas asked to begin playing the Brahms Violin Concertoafter the cadenza.• A friend relayed the sad case of an orchestral auditionwhere a candidate was turning in a first class behind-thescreenaudition. Then, inexplicably, one of the excerpts fellfar short of the preceding standard. Thinking that it wasa lapse in concentration, the applicant was given anothergo at the excerpt but unfortunately, to the same end. Itbecame clear to the committee that the applicant did not
15anticipate being asked that particular passage in themovement. He was eliminated with the rationale thatif it was not important enough for him/her to learn theentire movement as required, he/she was not the kind ofmusician that was desirable to the orchestra.• While I was listening to an audition recording ofthe Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, the performancemysteriously cut off at the end of the cadenza. Thinkingthat the applicant was most likely using this performancefor other auditions as well, I wanted to alert him/herto the problem, deciding to put in a personal call. Notonly was the applicant surprised to hear from me, s/he was shocked to learn that I had listened to his/herperformance through the cadenza. Given the heading ofthis section, I’ll let you come to your own conclusions…As a postscript, I’d like to share one final musing. Forthose who choose music as a profession, we are allunited in one overriding sentiment - music is our life’spassion. In fact, I have always felt that music chose me.Take on the journey with hopeful optimism, believing thatthere is room for everyone in the profession at onelevel or another. Remove the word “audition” from yourlexicon and replace it with the more user friendly terms“performance” or “rendition.” View each opportunity tosecure a spot in the musical arena as your moment toshine and showcase your love for your art form. Whenmy students embark on their journeys, my parting wordsof advice are always the same: continue forward as youhave been all along. You don’t need to get ready; yourwork habits have kept you ready.
16PETERWILEYHow I Discovered the CelloI was seven years old when I discoveredthe cello and remember a couple distinctthings. First, the smell. This may sound oddto some.. But that scent stays in my brainsomehow and over my life comes backperiodically. Second, the C string (lowestnote on the cello) is the very first note Iplayed. That beautiful deep, resonant, lownote. I still get goosebumps just thinkingabout it.A family of 5 siblingsMy four brothers and I all playedinstruments at some point in our lives. Myoldest brother, four years older than me,had started to play the violin, so he was ina way greatly responsible for me decidingto play an instrument. I began hearingcomments that I was talented from peopleand it was a way to distinguish myself frommy brothers. As a young child, I’m notsure if I was actually talented or if I wantedto carry the idea forward for my ownpurposes.My Training and Professional CareerI was thirteen years old when I firstattended music school at the CurtisInstitute of Music and spent six years there.My first job was in the Pittsburgh SymphonyOrchestra when I was nineteen years old.Nine months later, I played principal celloin the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra andremained there for eight years. When I left
17Cincinnati, I had no clue where I was headed. I wastwenty-eight and wanted to see the world beyondorchestra life. I took a gamble and moved to theBig Apple and in 1987 I received an invitation tojoin the Mozart Trio, in which I played for elevenyears. I left that group in 1998. For about eight ornine seasons after that, I played with the GuarneriQuartet. I formed a piano quartet somewhere alongthe way and that brings me to my current state.Music has always been one of my greatest lovesand I am incredibly grateful to be a musician. I feelmy life is charmed in a way because music hashelped me to find a path in this chaotic world. I’mnot sure what I would have done without it andmost of all I am thankful that music has enabledme to perform, teach, and earn a living.One Mentor who shaped meOne of the souls I could not have lived withoutis David Soyer who was the first cellist in theGuarneri Quartet. He instilled in me a wonderfulrespect for music, and like most people whomentored me, loved music and respectedcomposers. David Soyer was named my ultimatehero and ultimate mentor. He knew he wouldalways be the person that did the most for me,and was not only a great cellist and phenomenalmusician, but he’s the one that really instilled thevalues that I hope to carry forth at least to somedegree. I think back about lessons with him andcan remember some things that he taught meabout playing the cello, but what I particularlyremember is this value that he projected aboutthe meaning of being a respectful musician. Therewas sort of an umbrella of useful morality overeverything he did and how it was always aboutthe music for him and never about oneself. I oweeverything to him.Meeting the Guarneri QuartetAt age eleven, I met all four members of theGuarneri Quartet and became a huge fan instantly.I never in a million years dreamt to be invited astheir cellist. But it happened. That is of course amajor highlight of my career, which coincidentallyinfluences another highlight: playing all of theBeethoven quartets with one of the greatestquartets of all-time. If I could say how I felt aboutthe Beethoven quartets then I suppose I wouldbe like Beethoven but there is something abouthis soul that is so unreachable, yet is so worthreaching for. I’m incredibly moved by his spiritand I find him to be a gift and am so thankful tohave the ability to comprehend his essence andmessage nestled in his compositions. I’m not amusicologist; in fact, I’m the furthest thing from it,but if some things I heard are correct then there’snothing more significant about Beethoven’s soul.A fond performance memory I was part of thatreally stands out is playing the slow movementof Beethoven’s Quartet in A minor, Opus 132with the Guarneri boys. Specifically, they wereso generous, giving, and loving, and there’ssomething about the poetry and spirituality thatI sensed in the music. When I performed andlistened to the guys play… it just felt so human,giving, and selfless. Unbelievably, there was nospecial preparation for the Beethoven quartets, butrehearsal with the Guarneri Quartet was always awonderful experience. There was a great presenceof camaraderie, food, pleasure, good spirit and, ofcourse, music.Each Composer helps me play musicallyOne thing I constantly ponder is: what would thecomposer like to hear in the music? This thoughtmay seem selfless, but certainly has a selfishpart to it. I have an ego like anybody else, andknow that if I can perform the way a composerwould potentially desire, then I would be doingextraordinarily well and gain attention. Anotherconsistent thought is the attempt to understandthe score and the composer’s blueprint and style.These are things one cannot necessarily read offthe printed page. In addition to these prominentwonderings, I have to trust my musical goodsense and instincts. Smart choices are crucial.Take bowings, for example. It’s easier to say weshould never change a composer’s bowing, butsometimes they are more intended as spacemarks. If I struggle a lot to do it as a bowingand it just doesn’t sound right, then I change it.Negotiating certainly plays a large role in music.
18I needed to realize that if I’mtoo afraid to do the wrongthing and end up doingnothing, then I’m betrayingthe composer.PETER WILEY
19Breakthrough - AHA MomentsSimilar to fond memories and highlights are myAHA moments. The moments in my life that helpedme breakthrough to understanding somethingat an extremely high level. The very first AHAmoment I can remember was listening to myfirst recording of the cello. I listened to thatrepeatedly and I was very moved, even at a youngage. Additional AHA moments have, of course,occurred thereafter. It would be hard for me tostart picking one or another, but between thetime I heard that recording and attended Curtis,hearing and meeting the Guarneri Quartet when Iwas eleven wasdefinitely HUGE!I should reallyrefer to whatI consider tobe the mostsignificantspecific thingthat happenedto me. A friendof my mother’sknew that mybrothers andI were prettyserious aboutour music andshe found mymom and toldher there wasa quartet in residence in Binghamton, New Yorkand why doesn’t she see if she can get her boysto take lessons with them. That happened to bethe Guarneri Quartet in 1966 and we were about100 miles away. Looking back I have to say thatphone call is what put me on the path. From there,meeting the Guarneri Quartet, being introduced toDavid Soyer, his accepting me as a student, andcalling my mother to say he was taking her boyto Philadelphia to attend Curtis were all crucialmoments.Rudolf SerkinAdditionally, let me describe to you some thingsthat Rudolf Serkin said to me that I consider AHAmoments. When you play with Mr. Serkin it is verylittle talk and very little study. There’s not a wholelot of discussion about what was to be done, butthere was definitely a lot of playing. There was amoment I particularly love: it was in a Mozart trioand he specifically asked me to make a crescendo,which of course I did, and the very next rehearsalhe asked me, in the same exact spot, to make adiminuendo... I went up to him after the secondrehearsal and told him I had no clue as to whatshould be done. This is when he made his point.He said, “Peter, you should put everything intothe mix. Think about it all and when it’s time toperform, play each sentence the only way you feelat that moment.” I look back now and I think hemost likely didthat on purposebecause it wasdissimilar to hischaracter tostop and say “dothat.” I think heknew exactlywhat he wasdoing. Anotherpleasant momentwith him waswhen I askedhim, “Mr. Serkin,I’m playing thisMozart piece andit says piano atthe beginning,but there areno markings for50 measures. I don’t know what to do,” and hesaid, “Think of it as you would a poem.” Whenone reads a poem, one does not hesitate to giveit personality, inflection, and nuance. One shouldthink of playing Mozart that very same way. Thatwas an AHA moment because I needed to realizethat if I’m too afraid to do the wrong thing and endup doing nothing, then I’m betraying the composer.How does one more “AHA moment” with Serkinsound? I was rehearsing the Brahms piano quartetwith him and the tempo was so unbelievablyslow for the first three or four rehearsals in thefirst movement, but it eventually sped up and henever talked about it. He had a way of delivering amessage to not automatically play fast but to givethe music time and let it find its own tempo. That’s
20undoubtedly something that I needed to learn and now when I play that piece and get to the firstgroup of sixteenth notes and the tempo takes off like crazy, I think of playing it with Serkin andhow seriously darkly and euphonically he played those sixteenth notes instead of racing throughthem. Those are my favorite AHA moments from him.Joining the Guarneri QuartetWhen I joined the Guarneri Quartet, itwas pretty near the time I had my firstcell phone. I was leaving New York inApril of 1999. I had just gotten in mycar and my cell phone rang and whenI answered it, David Soyer said he wasleaving the quartet and the boys wantedto play with me. My knees startedshaking and I said, “Well, no, I’m notgoing to do that,” which, oddly, is how itall began. From that moment on I startedtalking to David quite a bit about thewhole thing and in July I agreed to jointhe quartet.The guys were fantastic and theywanted to keep playing with me… itwas unbelievable. I will never forget that first rehearsal in New York. I never expected in my life to bethe cellist in the Guarneri Quartet. I’ve been a fan first and foremost, but never imagined being thecellist and I originally said “no” because I couldn’t imagine the quartet without him or without any ofthem, for that matter.So in short, I studied with my dream cellist as a student while extremely admiring the Guarneri Quartetfollowed by having the opportunity to rehearse and perform with them for a part of my career. Life istruly incredible.
21How to study with me?Currently, I teach at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Bard CollegeConservatory of Music. One has to be very good in order to be acceptedinto Curtis and if one takes the audition and passes then one has theoption of studying with me or with Carter Grey, a wonderful teacher andcellist. The third option is studying with both of us. It’s really quite simple.There’s no requirement other than passing the audition. Regardless ofage, if we think a student is goodenough then he or she is invited tostudy with us at Curtis. It’s a fantasticschool; anybody that is acceptedinto Curtis should attend. The onlydifference with Bard is a doublemajor is required. One must take asecond degree in something otherthan a primary instrument, but it’s awonderful opportunity, actually. Bardis an amazing school, but don’t attendif you’re just going to practice thecello and not going to study othercourses. It’s a superb opportunity toget a total education and to focus ona second degree in another subject.An extra year is given to complete thedouble degree requirement.Learning How to PracticeFinally, something that I think can be said to help young musicians reallyfalls along the lines of “learning how to practice.” Be willing, when youpractice, to not constantly perform. Be patient and analytical and don’tbe afraid to take things apart. For example, practice the left hand withoutthe bow; practice the bow without the left hand. Consider every aspect ofplaying, try to relax, analyze and take inventory of what you think needsfixing. Remember, nobody ran a marathon the day they were born. Learnto crawl before you walk, don’t be in a hurry and at some point, if not allpoints, be thoughtful about the music. What I’m saying is that if I needto work on my intonation, it’s OK to not be musical and work on gettingmy left hand in the correct spot. Taking things apart can be extremelybeneficial. Isolating the right hand from the left, for example. I personallybelieve working on the left hand without the bow is helpful because youdon’t have to concern yourself with intonation you can concentrate onform and touch.Have clear priorities. It’s very important to be a musician first. If youintroduce yourself to someone and they say, “What do you do?” say, “I’m amusician.” Take pride in yourself as a musician and specify what you playsecond. This, my dear musicians, is how I believe we all should establishsome of the greatest priorities in this world.“I’m not a musicologist; infact, I’m the furthest thingfrom it, but if some things Iheard are correct then there’snothing more significant aboutBeethoven’s soul.”
22Fresh off the AuditionCircuit Rex SuranyIn May 2015, I won the Principal Double Bass Position ofthe Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. I’ve been with the METnow for one season (’14-’15) as a section member, and amnow embarking on this new leadership position.
This article is sponsored in part by Robertson & Son’s Violin Shop23How did I get here, and where did it start…I was around 8 years old when I began to studymusic, but my musical journey did not start onbass. I was studying the piano for two yearsbefore I found the bass. Struggling to have enoughpractice time for both instruments cued my parentsto pull the plug on piano; they thought I was doinga little bit better at the bass anyway, and they sawit was more fun for me. I thought it was big andcool!My Teachers:In the beginning, I studied the bass with BobPeterson at The Millstone River Elementary School,where he taught and co-ran the orchestra program.I worked with Bob privately for 4 years from 1997to 2001, and then I went on to work with NicholasWalker from 2001 until 2005. I met Nicholas in2001 at George Vance’s summer bass workshopin Maryland. He was living in Yonkers, New York atthe time, and he had just come back from studyingwith Francois Rabbath in Paris. We approachedhim after his big recital at the workshop and askedif he could come down to teach a few of us youngbassists in the Princeton, New Jersey area. Heagreed to come down.It was my senior year of high school when Harold(Hal) Robinson came into the picture. Nicholaswas relocating to Ithaca to assume his newprofessorship. So, luckily for me, he was niceenough to help arrange some time for me to spendwith Hal. The lessons with him were absolutelyamazing! During the weeks he couldn’t see me, Istudied with Mary Javian, a former student of his,who was also nice enough to work with me.College:I studied at The Colburn School with David Mooreand Paul Ellison for a year. The two of them helpeddevelop maturity in my practice regimen. Theyare true masters of isolating variables of play,and finding natural gesture to fuel their chops,as well as many other things… They also helpedme decide which direction my career was going.I didn’t really know if I wanted to play bass guitar,be a soloist, be an orchestral player, or play jazzor folk music. David and Paul also helped meadvance my skills for transcribing music, especiallyEdgar Meyer’s compositions. I did a performanceforum at Colburn where I performed three of thosetranscriptions in 2007.That same year, I was accepted into the CurtisInstitute of Music, to study with Hal Robinsonand Edgar Meyer. What a trip! They are both soinfluential to my career. They taught me to bea good human being in addition to being a finemusician and a hard worker. They are amazingrole models, both musically and in personal life.In fact, in many ways I consider them like secondfathers to me. By the way, I’m honored to beHal’s assistant at Julliard, it’s going to be amazingteaching along side of him!Harold “Mr. Generosity” RobinsonHere’s a great story I always tell about Hal, itis when I had to take a bass from the Curtiscollection to get repaired. This “Storioni” is anice ~200 year old Italian instrument that wasabsolutely phenomenal to be exposed to and playon, but it had to go in for some repair work: it hada crack, a couple seams were open, there weresome rattles… I was on the audition circuit alreadyso the bass needed to be in tip top shape ASAP.I had no car and no way of safely transporting thebass out of Philly. So Hal just loaned me his owncar! He told me that it was parked underneath theKimmel Center, “Here are the keys”, just take it,and don’t worry about anything. This showed thedepth of Hal’s character: always trying to help, andalways cultivating community growth.Musically speaking, the man taught me, amongmany other things, how to be emotional with musicand to bring one’s life experience to the table.He’ll always orbit around this idea of theatricalmusicianship. Frankly, he’s one of a kind in thisregard. Just listen to his Kol Nidrei!Working with Edgar Meyer (in addition)Working with Edgar was absolutely flooring.Really, how many people get this opportunity!?I learned so much about structure, theory,counterpoint, analysis, and how to have all ofthat fuel this amazing “new age” bass techniquethat’s sweeping the nation (check out Hal’s newlyreleased edition of the 1st Bach cello suite inspired
24This article is sponsored in part by Robertson & Son’s Violin Shopby Edgar). He helped me immeasurably in findingcreative solutions to unique problems. He alsoasked me to work on things that I didn’t see thevalue in initially, but in turn would improve myplaying in a dumbfounding way. Typically these“things” would be insanely slow metronome work,or it would be these crazy +-+-+-+ fingerings, or itwould be other “super” thumb fingerings that onlyhe could think of in the first place,and understand that they would behelpful in the long run.Whether it was intonation, rhythm,anything… I know now that slowwork is not only a great way to playbetter, but it is also a great way tounderstand something better.jumping through whatever hoops are identifiedfrom studying the excerpt in this way. I also thinkabout, other than the “why”, how to steer thepassage into being something that is enjoyableto listen to, not just “played correctly” or “nocomments”. If you can distract your futurecolleagues from the checklist that they have infront of them (that means their voting sheet), andMy Musical Mantra:Be your own self-made musician.I say this a lot and often to prettymuch any student I work with rightnow. A lot of the problems that weall face, as bass players, are facedalone. With the large degree ofvariance in the shapes and sizesof our bodies, along with the lackof tradition and guidelines of theconstruction of our instruments, andnot forgetting the seemingly tribaland unconsolidated educationswe all bring to the table, we don’thave that much in common at all,let alone advice for one another.Because of this, I find it reallychallenging to communicate whenit comes to teaching somebodywhat I know. A lot of what defines agood bass player in my mind, at themoment, is being willing to work withwhat you’ve got to come up withsolutions.Auditioning for the METLearn the “WHY” (why am I beingasked this excerpt)!When I start learning a list, Iask myself why is this excerptbeing asked. Then, once I think Iunderstand its purpose, I work onwww.INGUARD.com(866) 563-8821
This article is sponsored in part by Robertson & Son’s Violin Shoppresent something that’s nice to listen to, you will dowell in auditions… or at least you will for me. I’m 99%sure that nobody wants to listen to an audition, letalone a bass audition… Try to make it fun.An excellent example of “learning the why” is theValkyrie excerpt from Act 1, Scene 1, rehearsal#16. This excerpt is a love scene that featuresbass and cello soli lines in unison. In this passage,during my audition (both times), I tried to show thecommittee that I understand how to make a smoothand beautiful legato sound, and that I’m capable ofmaking a character or personality out of the detailson the page.but incredibly detailed musically.Also,“If what you offer in an auditionis technical perfection, butnothing else; the moment youmake a mistake is the momentyou offer nothing.”– David Allen Moore.Not stopping there, I found that some of the changesin tonality (upward stepwise motion in the melody)yielded an element of drama in the dialogue.Something simple like adjusting the dynamics basedon the line’s topography usually sores big points in anaudition (for me).Speaking of dialogue, for opera, look at the libretto,translate it, listen to it, have it dictate the way youplay the music! You always follow the voice!So, if the scene is about love, then you need to makethat understood instantly. I think it was a brilliantmove for the MET to ask for this passage as anaudition excerpt because it’s fairly simple technically,Wise words… For the love of all that is holy on earth,play musically!Bring your creativity into focus. This is what willdistinguish you in an audition. Of course everyonehas to play the game of making no mistakes, playingin tune, and having perfect time… If your auditionstrategy is limited to doing that, then you’re reallyjust relying on hope: that none of the people whobring musicality, creativity, or personality to theirpresentation will show up to the audition; or yourhoping that those people will make mistakes.I understand that a lot of people play like this: therisk of making mistakes increases dramatically when
This article is sponsored in part by Robertson & Son’s Violin Shopyou try to do something fancy musically. But,neither of my auditions at the MET was perfect.I’m incapable of playing a perfect audition, butI played convincingly enough, musically, toinspire confidence from the audition committeeregardless of my imperfections. In this light, Isay that preparing an audition is figuring outhow you can make people enjoy listening toyour presentation- you have to stop thosejudges at the audition who are tallying mistakesinstead of listening. Give them something betterto talk about behind that screen!“Gear is everything!”German Bow vs. French Bow:After 14 years, I switched from French bowto German bow. It was after seeing the BerlinPhilharmonic play that I was inspired to learnhow to play the German bow. I wanted toconvert all of the techniques and knowledge tomy French bow playing. So I bought a bow, andstarted playing!Once my German bow chops were as good asmy French, it was so clear to me, and manyothers, that I was much more of a German bowplayer than French. The character of the naturalway that the German bow pulls a sound is somuch more in line with my personality thanthe French bow. Plus, I have the wingspan ofMichael Jordan, so the slightly longer bow reallyhelps my playing.Instrument:I play on an Eduard Withers 4/4 gamba, circa1830, from London. The bass is gigantic, sois its sound, and it’s in the process of beingconverted into a 5-string. It took me a longtime to find this instrument, and even longerfor me to know exactly what I was looking for.My advice to those who are currently shoppingis to first of all be patient: the worst thing youcan do is buy something that you don’t like andthen have to re-sell. Secondly, when trying theinstrument, find out how the instrument soundsnaturally, without you pushing it, and make yourdecision based on this kind of original voicethat the instrument has when you don’t getin the way. To paraphrase: buy based on theinstrument’s voice, not on what you can make itdo. The second you change your setup (this willhappen!), everything you make the instrumentdo changes, but the original voice doesn’t.Rosin choice:What I am currently doing is 99% orchestralplay. Fresh Pop’s is amazing, actually it’s thedream, but as soon as the weather in New YorkCity gets too humid and hot, or too cold anddry, it’s useless. The fall and spring are greatfor it. Whenever I’m not using Pops, I’m usinga combination of Kolstein’s Soft and Nyman’s.The two of them seem to be more reliable yearround. You also have more control adjustingyour rosin content between powdery dryerNyman’s, and the soft and stickier Kolstein’s.This combo is ideal for touring as well.Remain Passionate and Have FunI hope people can remember to bring passionto what we are doing. It’s too often that I hearpeople play completely void of any inspiration. Ithink that I can truthfully claim that I have donea good job of making sure that whatever I playcomes from an inspiration. If I don’t have thatorcan’t find it- I play terribly! I can barely learnthe notes… When I’m feeling uninspired, I listento the Berlin Philharmonic, Edgar Meyer, ChrisThile, Time for 3, Ray Brown, Jaco, etc… I’malways trying to find inspiration to move forward.We all as musicians have a responsibility tomaintain this sort of musical libido, and to makewhat we do inspiring, regardless of what’shappening in our lives, what level we play at, orwhat music we play.
28Repertoireis theGreatestTeacherRoberto DiazI have always been interestedin a number of things andnever dedicated to just one.Fortunately, I began workingprofessionally right afterfinishing music school at theCurtis Institute of Music. Myfirst job was with the MinnesotaOrchestra and I began teachingwhile also playing a few soloconcerts and recitals. After thatI formed a string trio, called theDiaz trio with my brother Andreson cello and Andrés Cárdeneson violin. I also had the pleasureof being a member of the BostonSymphony and principal violaof both the National Symphonyand Philadelphia Orchestra.More recently, administration hasbecome a big part of my life asthe President of Curtis. I have
29always been interested, curious, and happy toexperiment with and try new things and this hasserved me well. I have had to balance all thesedifferent roles and parts of my life.To me, life is about balance and compromise andI have learned to be completely involved in whatI am doing at that exact moment. Otherwise I donot practice well, teach well, and if distractedwhile at home, from my family or kids, I won’t dothat well either. It takes getting used to being ableto concentrate on the task at hand, so I can get alot done efficiently. For instance, running a schooltruly takes full dedication and commitment. I willgo from teaching a lesson, to a board meeting, orfrom a staff meeting, to a rehearsal and have toswitch gears instantly.President of the Curtis Institute of MusicI am the president of a school but never thoughtit was something that would happen. But it justdeveloped. The board members seemed tothink there were certain skills required that I’dacquired along the way and I viewed it as anadventure. And here I am 10 years later stillat it. It has been an unbelievable learningexperience, and it is perfect as it combines mylove of music and working with people.Classical Music is my Love out of all the Musicin the WorldClassical music is so important to me becauseever since I was conscious it has been a partof my life. My parents are both musicians, myfather a viola player and my mother a pianist.They never really demanded that we becomemusicians, but they did insist that we studymusic because they believed it would benefitus in everyday life. I grew up hearing my fatherpracticing concertos and he was the principalviolist of the Chilean Chamber Orchestra andhad a string quartet, called the Quartet of Chile.This made it so I grew up listening to quartetsby Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy, and all thefantastic music written for string quartet, which Ifeel is some of the greatest music ever written. Iwas raised hearing this before I even really knewwhat it was. It was part of our home life. Then asI grew, I began to appreciate it more and more.Progressing as a music student, that appreciationfor the music developed more foundationalknowledge behind it. All of a sudden I washooked. Having access, to any music, was key tobuilding interest and a love for it eventually, andinevitably making it my career.InspirationTimes EvolveI did not begin on the Viola. I’m originally fromChile, and when I was growing up in Chile therewas no such thing as a youth orchestra and noteven really a need for young violists. Everyoneeither learned violin, cello, piano, or guitar.However nowadays in Chile, they have over1,000 youth orchestras. And there are youngpeople playing the viola, which is wonderful.Almost everyone loves music, almost everybodysings, it is just something that is very natural andis very much a part of us. Almost everybody has
30some inner rhythm, and carries some tune in his or her head. Whether it’s a song, anursery rhyme, or something you heard on the radio or song you listen to on a regularbasis, we all keep music in our heads, in our own way. I think some of us are privilegedand lucky enough to be able to develop that and eventually spend our lives with it,which is amazing.TeachersMy family was one of my biggest inspirations but I was also so fortunate to have greatviola teachers. My father was actually my first teacher, then I studied with Burton Fineat the New England Conservatory who was principal violist of the Boston Symphonyfollowed by Joseph de Pasquale at Curtis who was principal violist of the PhiladelphiaOrchestra. I was fortunate that they were not only great teachers, but also amazingartists and unique performers. One of the people that I got very close to when comingback to Boston was the extraordinary violinist and musician Louis Krasner. I studiedwith him privately. I was already a professional, but started playing for him once amonth. We had long lessons, which were more than anything conversations aboutmusic. He taught me how to read music in a way that I had never really thought aboutor experienced before opening my eyes to a new level of expression. He created aturning point for me. By many standards I was already successful having a job in theBoston Symphony, and was all set if you will. But he made me realize there was somuch more in this musical journey than I had ever even realized. He helped me turnonto a different path as a musician. Then, because I was lucky enough to be in theBoston Symphony, National Symphony, or the Philadelphia Orchestra, I had accessto some of the greatest conductors and artists that came to play with the orchestra.Of course I learned a tremendous amount from great conductors such as WolfgangSawallisch and Mstislav Rostropovich.Top Right Hand CornerLouis Krasner really helped me develop as an artist because he would tell me aboutthe stuff that wasn’t really easy to hear. One time he brought out a review of a concert,and asked me to describe the experience the reviewer had. Specifically he wantedme to describe how the person on stage read the music, to warrant this responsefrom the reviewer. These types of conversations dug deeper and provoked thoughtabout the meaning of music. It is interesting because when I once was asked in aninterview what I teach at Curtis, I said, in some ways the last thing a Curtis studentneeds is instrument lessons. These musicians are so accomplished that I feel the mostimportant thing we teach them is how to read music, really read music. If you take thesame music, and you put it on a music paper, add a staff, write a key signature, write
31a certain meter, depending on the person’s name written on theupper right hand corner, the music reads differently. If you putthe same notes on the page, and you write Bach it sounds oneway versus Mozart, Brahms, or anyone else. So that in a sensewe teach the idea of understanding what it means when it iswritten by a specific composer, as opposed to anyone else. Thatwas a moment of realization for me that I should approach theinstrument differently depending on what I am trying to express.The one thing that Louis really taught me is to be more curious.I want music students to take with them a newfound senseof curiosity that they didn’t have before. This is so importantbecause I believe there is no such thing as a great artist that is nota curious person, or doesn’t have curiosity as a very fundamentalcomponent of who they are. Louis made me aware of this, forwhich I am very grateful.BACHI also spent time with Isaac Stern. At Curtis I remember spendingsome evenings with him just playing and listening to how noteswere connected. It just opens your ears and your mind. He couldput more expression into two notes, in just connecting two notes,than I had ever realized before with a phenomenal level of nuance.The violin and viola can speak, in some ways. Its not just singingthat can, and Isaac really exemplified that. I still remember thosetwo notes he played were the first two notes of Brahms’s violinsonata. It’s just a half step. But it’s how he turned that into almosta sigh. He emphasized to me that if somebody plays something acertain way, you have to go with it and do the same. At first I wasso focused on trying to do everything he did, but then he showedme the key is adapting to these changes. It was amazing becauseI walked out on stage at Avery Fisher Hall for a Mozart AnniversaryConcert we did and the place was completely packed. Therewere about 300 people on stage with us with barely room for thepiano and 3 of us on stage sittingin front of the piano. I had no ideahow we were going to interpret theperformance of this piece. But it wasone of the most relaxed eveningsof music making I’ve ever had, infront of 2500 people no less. Allwe did was explore as many waysas possible on how to play everyphrase. Then you just knew thatif someone did something and itwent a certain direction you took itfrom there and had certain avenues.Then if someone did something alittle different or completely differenthappened it created a whole otherset of possibilities. The focus was onlistening to every note that everyonewas playing as a result of what theyjust heard. Those are the kind oflearning experiences you have everyonce in a while that can reallydefine you.Repertoire Continues to Teach MeIt has also been rewarding to have the opportunity to work with greatcomposers. I performed the Penderecki viola concerto with Pendereckiconducting. This enabled me to discover his way of thinking in thecreative process of composing. One time in Portugal he asked me to doone thing and when I got to Spain he had completely changed his mind.I also worked with Edison Denisov in Moscow on his viola concerto.This was a piece that nobody really knew, written for a violist, and thenit was premiered and never played again. And he asked me to go toMoscow and perform it. I had the opportunity to work on it with him.Again remember, depending on what the name on the top right handcorner, depending on who it is, the meaning you have in front of you isdifferent. There were sections in the viola concerto by Denisov that hewas just trying to write out an improvisation. But if he hadn’t told methat I would never have known. It’s really amazing how important it isto approach music so carefully so that once we get into the brain ofthe composer, it is very liberating because we then understand how toread his language. Working directly with these composers, and tryingto get inside their heads has been one of the most interesting musicalexperiences for me. They all want something very unique, that’s whytheir music is unique to them.