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2 years ago

Next Level Journals Strings Summer 2015

30some inner rhythm, and

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.