YB Music Haul, CU Tenure, CMC Workshop and Everything In-Between!

I must say it was rather anti-climactic: the tenure submission portfolio was completed.  After years of mental and professional preparation and months of writing, editing, vetting and re-writing, my 517-page portfolio was complete!  The four 3-inch binders of programs, press articles and reviews could have served as bench pressing weights, and the written documents on my vision as an artist, philosophies on teaching, advising and volunteerism felt like I was writing a thesis, only the subject was myself (face palm).  When I finally hit the “submit” button for the very last document for the last time, I thought it would have felt more glorious and that perhaps a ticker-tape parade might have spontaneously erupted in the Delta Sky Club where I sat to submit the final docs…but alas, no such luck.  However, I am fortunate to have something even better: a few rare pockets of vacation time to spend with dear friends and family in-between summer touring.  What better way to celebrate?

I last left this blog post shortly after Cornell’s 2017 graduation ceremonies and since then, life has been rich with experiences and full of travels and touring.  From hot and sweaty summer days in New York to epic thunderstorms in New Hampshire, warm morning jogs in D.C., sunshine and ice cream in Virginia, cool daytime hikes and stunning waterfalls in Ithaca to the breezy Berkeley Bay, my suitcase has gotten a fantastic workout this last two months.

As soon as I got back to the City I jumped into one of the coolest touring endeavors ever – Yellow Barn’s Music Haul.  The brainchild of director Seth Knopp, Music Haul is a concert-series-meets-food-truck idea where a converted commercial truck converts into a stage to present mobile concerts to street and park crowds throughout the country.  It was a thrill to be a part of the truck’s maiden voyage to NYC with performances of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, Jay Treuting’s Oblique Music and Robert Mann’s Invocation with other YB alums on the streets of Brooklyn and at Union Square.  The JACK Quartet, Gil Kalish and SO Percussion were just a few of the amazing artists with whom we shared the stage.

Early June brought the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota’s season finale with the great jazz pianist Kenny Werner; I put my rather rusty jazz chops to the test with some of his beautiful original compositions and a couple of old standards.  What a joy it was to explore taking solos and comping with such a legend.  After a crazy cool project with Lembit Beecher in Washington, D.C. preparing his chamber opera Sophia’s Forest which will receive its complete premiere in Philly this coming September, the quartet headed to Avaloch Farm for a 10-day residency of preparations for our exciting season ahead.  On the docket was putting on the burner Beethoven Harp, Steve Reich Different Trains, Gubaidulina’s fourth quartet, Haydn Op. 20/2 alongside admin meetings, calendar discussions, and workshops on keeping our sisterhood healthy and strong.

From there it was back to Ithaca to climb into the rabbit hole of tenure preparation.  My oh-too-giddy reunion with my architect’s rotary paper cutter brought me back to my arts and crafts days, taking out staples of programs and playbills and trimming newspaper clippings for the performance dossier.  After six readers and countless drafts, the personal statement, extended CV and dossier overview documents were ready for submission, and from here on out, it’s just a waiting game while my file climbs the 7 rungs of Ivy evaluation…fingers crossed, I’ll share the news when June 2018 arrives!

A quick celebratory weekend followed with a visit to see my dearest Ieva and her incredible daughter (and my BFF, of course) Alma.  Together with Chris (husband and papa) we packed boxes for their upcoming move, visited their gorgeous community pool, and had a Maryland crab feast!  As I returned to NYC for a night, I repacked my bags for a 2-week tour out to Berkeley where I was teaching and performing at a fantastic festival/workshop at the Crowden Music Center.  Working with the students there is one of the highlights of my year, and director Eugene Sor brings together a collection of esteemed faculty who also happen to be fabulous human beings that it makes for two of the most joyful and rewarding weeks of the season.

With a quick 2-day jaunt to LA in-between our weeks at Crowden to see my aunt, uncle and help with my beautiful cousin Yoonie’s wedding, was made complete with a trip to pay respects to my grandparents.  After the invitations, thank-you cards and address labels were designed and ordered, we feasted together and I jetted back up to Berkeley for Crowden week 2.  After a 3:45am alarm, I hopped on a flight back to JFK, landed to retrieve my car who had been happily long-term parked and worked on a 2-day spackling-and-painting job on all 5 floors of our condo building up here on 149th Street!  It was a sweaty job, but so rewarding!  And, I am now about to embark on a 3-day staycation with my amazing parents…off the grid I go!

I leave you with this photo diary:

Yellow Barn Music Haul!
Dinner party with the great Fred Harris, drummer extraordinaire at the CMSM season finale =)
Visiting with a dear old friend, Ed Volker of House of Note, our violin shop in Minneapolis
Lembit Beecher’s “Sophia’s Forest” preview at Halcyon in D.C.!

Avaloch Farm!

Tenure dossier carnage…
And a much-needed break from the dossier carnage – Treman Park, Ithaca
My dearest Alma!
Farewell to the Jokubaviciute-Zimmerman family in Virginia
My Mendelssohn octet group performing at Crowden

Post-concert at Crowden!

Family time in LA!
I’m bringing sexy back…spackling and painting my condo building in NYC!

Lavender in Provence, Gold in Osaka, + “Red, White & Biden” Ice Cream

On a cool and rainy night here in New York City I write this blog post to share with all the goings-on of my musical world over the last two months.  There is much to catch up on, so without further ado:

I will begin by sharing the lovely news that my quartet and I won the gold medal at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition, a triennial affair that brings ensembles from across the globe together on one stage in southern Japan.  As I didn’t grow up in the world of musical competitions or contests, this was a relatively new experience for me, and what a wild ride it was.  We performed four complete programs of quartets by Mozart, Janacek, Berg, Schumann, Akira Nishimura, Paul Wiancko, and Beethoven in their entireties.  Following the fourth and final round, we were elated to be named the winner and closed the tour with two concerts in Osaka and Tokyo.  The staff, logistics, hospitality and organization could not have been more perfect — everything down to our chair and stand height was thought of and taken care of with kindness and ninja-like precision. The contest aside, for me the most moving and important element of our travels to Japan was the fact that we were able to perform for Ayane’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Kozasa, who heard us live for the very first time.

Click here to listen to our live performances!  (For Round 1, we begin at 1:08)

Round 1 – Mozart & Janacek
Medal Ceremony!
Post-Ceremony Party @ Osaka Castle

I’ll rewind to where we left off after my last post, which was just before I embarked on a 3-week tour of New York, France, and Germany with The Knights.  Kicking things off with two concerts in Brooklyn, the band then flew across the pond for chamber music and chamber orchestra performances at festivals in Aix-en-Provence (where the lavender is most famous), Friedrichshafen, Heidelberg, and Hamburg.  From the Schnittke two-violin duo to a Stravinsky quartet to the Reich double violin concerto to the symphonies of Haydn and Mozart, it was a rich and jam-packed trip!

Perhaps the most glorious moment for me was playing the Reich double concerto (with my long-time partner-in-crime Guillaume Pirard) in Heidelberg’s Kongresshaus Stadthalle — one of the most beautiful acoustics I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  The breathtaking views of Lake Constance in Friedrichshafen, crisp blue skies filled with the fragrance of lavender in Aix, and delicious cheeses in Heidelberg made added sprinkles of joy and beauty throughout the trip.

I returned to Cornell directly from Germany to hit the ground running with rehearsals for the U.S. presentation of my CCA Biennial project from last year’s work in Italy, Le storie di vita nel legno.  The evening featured the performance of two new trios by Can Bilir, the exhibition of the refugee-created mural — which had been shipped from Italy and rebuilt at Cornell — and the premiere of our documentary that we made on the project itself last year in Brescia.  Despite an epic computer disaster that I experienced while on the road in France, I managed to refinish the final edits of the documentary just in time for the debut!  It was so powerful to bring this project full circle; I remain indebted to and inspired by the men of Cooperative Selene with whom I worked to build cultural bridges through the arts during my time in Italy last year.

The very next day brought my annual faculty recital, this year with Italian pianist Pietro Bonfilio.  We presented a program of Steve Heitzeg, Janacek, Kabalevsky and Brahms in the Carriage House Hayloft (my favorite spot to play in Ithaca!) and had a chance to begin plans for our upcoming recital in Tuscany this summer.  How small but fulfilling a world it felt bringing my life and work in Italy back to Cornell.

The moment these projects finished it was time for the end-of-year push with student recitals, grades, and committee meetings.  My fabulous students presented a showcase recital featuring works from Bach to Sinding and Tchaikovsky to Gershwin.  As my students walked off stage, the three other Aizuri ladies arrived in Ithaca, and we began the journey to Japan with rehearsals around my teaching schedule and late-night run-throughs for friends…

I hopped off the plane from Tokyo to greet a group of dear family friends who had arrived in Ithaca to attend their son’s graduation, and we spent the rest of the weekend in commencement mode.  I joined my student, Sarah McDonald for a performance of some Bartok duos at the Department of Music ceremony and stood proudly in the faculty lineup to witness the procession of the Class of 2017 along the Arts Quad of Cornell.  Vice President Joe Biden delivered the 2017 Convocation address and it was, in my opinion, totally fantastic.  He referenced his own college years when the country seemed even more divided and in crisis amidst the Vietnam war, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.  He warned against fear and encouraged the young graduates to seek action and tolerance.  It was a brilliant combination of topical realism, uplifting optimism, and guiding advice for the future.

And as many know, Mr. Biden loves ice cream, and as Cornell Dairy is famous for its house-made churns, he couldn’t leave campus without the University creating and naming a new flavor after him: “Red, White and Biden.”

I sign off tonight dreaming of the music that I’ll be preparing to perform over the next two days as part of Yellow Barn’s MusicHaul No Boundaries tour, where we YB alums set out to perform concerts in the back of a converted moving truck that parks and sets-up a temporary stage on the streets of New York!

And as always, a photo diary here:

Waiting on our delayed flight from JFK to Nice, serenaded by the one-and-only Guillaume =)
The crisp blue skies of Aix-en-Provence
Gearing up for an outdoor publicity show at the Aix Festival de Paques
Lake Constance, just outside the front entrance of the concert hall in Friedrichshafen, Germany
Dress rehearsal at the Kongresshause Stadthalle in Heidelberg
Power tool time…putting together the new installation for the refugee mural

And the finished product, installed in Klarman Atrium at Cornell

Eating some of the best food in the world in Osaka!
The Aizuri Ladies
Post-ceremony pic!
Together with the winners of the wind & brass division (does this look like a prom photo to anyone else!?)
The Cornell Class of 2017!
Commencement 2017 with my student, Sarah McDonald

Vice President Joe Biden and his “Red White and Biden” ice cream debut!
Post-graduation dinner party at my house with the Yang-Munro crew!

Farewell, Bear!

Last Tuesday we bid farewell to a musical giant. Maestro Stanislaw “Bear” Skrowaczewski was a man, whom for me, represented everything that is sacred, dutiful, and thoughtful about the art of music making.

Not only did he serve 19 years as Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra and helped to catapult the ensemble to one of the best in the nation, but was a brilliant composer and arranger. He became a mentor and granddad figure for me and my family, someone we could look to for so many of life’s answers. Bear was the definition of integrity, both musical and otherwise, and his spirit will live on for generations to come through his memory and music.

The very last piece that Maestro Stan composed (completed in September 2015) happened to be a duo written for me and my brother, Daniel, to honor my father’s 70th birthday. Daniel and I were honored to present this piece alongside his quintet “For Krystyna” (the piece he wrote to honor his wife at her funeral) at a beautiful memorial service held at Minnesota Orchestra Hall. There were beautiful words spoken by those close to him – among them his biographer Fred Harris – and the service was bookended by Bach’s Air and Bruckner’s Adagio (Maestro Stan had a particular gift and affinity for Bruckner; his recordings of Bruckner symphonies are arguably the most revered in the world) performed by the entire Minnesota Orchestra. It was a true celebration of a life lived to its fullest in every sense. Closing remarks by his two sons, Nicholas and Paul brought the event to a close, signaling only the beginning of his legacy.

Rest In Peace, Bear, We Love You!

Click here to read the Minneapolis Star Tribune article and see the slide show of photos from the event.

The past two months were a whirlwind of wonderment in my musical life! February began with our annual Chamber Music Society of Minnesota Family Concert – a “choose-your-own-adventure” trip down bluegrass lane that brought kindergarteners up on stage to conduct, leading our every move from tempo to dynamics — was followed by Saint-Saens’ iconic “Carnival of the Animals.”  On that concert I also presented the word premiere of Steve Heitzeg’s “Lake Stone Moon,” an incredible piece for solo violin (plus Lake Superior Stone, Boundary Waters driftwood, and Tibetan singing bowl!), which pays tribute to the resistance movement against fracking in the North Woods.  From Minneapolis I headed south to Raleigh-Durham where the quartet dove into an intense but invigorating residency.  Concerts at North Carolina State University and Cat’s Cradle were coupled with master classes at Duke University and the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute and finished off with a trip to a famous Raleigh mainstay, Nana Taco!

From North Carolina the gals and I hopped on a quick Delta flight up to Washington D.C. for our Kenned Center debut!  We presented a program on the Fortas Chamber Music Series of Beethoven, Webern, Caroline Shaw and Mendelssohn; although the acoustics of their studio space while the Terrace Theatre is being renovated are less-than-ideal for string quartet playing, it was a deeply moving experience.  I then headed back to Ithaca to immerse myself in the teaching of my fantastic students at Cornell and then welcomed the Aizuris to campus for our first University residency.  The premiere of Stephen Dankner’s 19th quartet was paired with Mozart and Beethoven, and via residency events, we workshopped our concert repertoire with students and gave a chamber music master class on campus.  It was such a thrill to bring my two musical lives together under one “roof” up in Ithaca.

A quick trip to Flushing for a performance on Marcy Rosen’s Chamber Music Live series at Queens College was followed by a performance at Rutgers University-Camden and a master class with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society at Temple University brought the calendar to mid-March.  I then headed back up to Ithaca for a beautiful, long stretch of time that included one of the most intense blizzards I’ve ever witnessed (and that’s including my first 17 years in Minnesota!) – Cornell closed for the first time in 24 years – and the 27 inches of snow that fell in my backyard couldn’t go without photos…

After I finally dug myself out of my driveway, the week finished with two recitals, one at Red Newt Winery (a gorgeous finger lakes vineyard that has recently begun hosting a Sunday recital series) and another at Ithaca College on their guest artist recital series.  Susan Waterbury, my twin over at IC arranged the events and then hosted a master class that I gave for her students the following day.  It was a blast to work with such talented, eager and dedicated young violinists.  That week finished with a deeply fulfilling and proud moment for me when I heard my senior music major, Sarah McDonald, give an inspiring and captivating Honors Recital; a few hours later I was on a flight to Memphis where I hooked back up with the quartet for a residency in partnership with the University of Memphis and the Iris Orchestra.  The highlight of our experience there was working on the Mendelssohn Octet with three young musicians who are the current Iris Fellows – their talent and dedication combined with their openness and curiosity made for a rich, uplifting experience.

The next morning at 5am I was headed back to the Memphis airport to hop a flight to Minneapolis for Bear’s memorial.  I had the chance to catch a rare Monday in St. Paul to witness the world’s greatest Suzuki teacher (my mom!) in action with her Pre-Twinkle group class – I nearly died from cuteness overload.  As Spring Break began at Cornell on Saturday, I hopped down to the City for the start of a quartet project and was able to enjoy a lovely dinner with the magnificent Scott and Jane MacDonald, old friends and colleagues from upstate!

That brings us full circle!

Until next time…

Post-CMSM Concert dinner with Steve Heitzeg, guest artists Michael and Kyung Kim, and board members
Rehearsing at North Carolina State for the premieres of the Askim and Waschka quartets
Post-NC State performance silly pic with composers Peter Askim and Rodney Waschka

Working with students at the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute and outreach visits at the after-school program KidzNotes!
Cat’s Cradle show on Jen Curtis’ “Overtone” series in Chapel Hill – bluegrass meets Wiancko meets Mendelssohn…
NanaTaco!
Post-show at the Kennedy Center!

Cornell Residency Photos – the amazing ads at Bethe House for our quartet events, and sound-checking at the Carriage House
Storm Stella in Dryden, NY – 27 inches rivals even the biggest Minnesota blizzards of my childhood!

With Rick Manning (my bluegrass fiddlin’ buddy who joined me for some tunes on the recital) and Susan Waterbury post-concert at Ithaca College
The incomparable Mama Ellen Kim working her Suzuki magic with her little ones, Pre-Twinkle style…
Dinner party with the MacDonalds at their new amazing pad in Brooklyn…

 

Love from Scrag Mountain Music

What a treat it has been to be in the snow-covered mountains of Vermont performing with the quartet at Scrag Mountain Music.  Our hosts and co-artistic directors, Evan Premo and Mary Bonhag are not only exquisite musicians, but warm-hearted, generous, and uplifting people.  They have created a community-supported festival concert series that brings musicians from around the world to present concerts in the Central Vermont region; their tagline of “Come as you are, pay what you can” is such a beautiful concept – I thank Evan and Mary for their beautiful vision, and for creating a space where anyone, no matter their means, can attend these performances.

Our first concert at the Green Mountain Girls’ Farm was unforgettable.  Held on a sustainable farm run by two incredible women Laura Olsen and Mari Omland – who treated us to a delectable home-cooked farm dinner before the concert – the series opened with a program of Dowland, Golijov, Janacek and Schubert (the cello quintet with Evan Premo playing cello II on double bass!).  It seemed only natural that post-concert festivities included hanging out with their two 500-pound pigs, 20+ hens, and the fabulous farm dog, Uno.  I’ll drive back to Ithaca tomorrow with a trunk full of farm eggs, root veggies, and their famous heirloom tomato salsa!

I also am embarrassed to say that I missed the December installment of this blog, so I’m playing a bit of catchup – December and January have been stuffed full of incredibly special events and moments; in a way it feels as this has been the most emotionally-packed seven weeks I’ve experienced in a great while.  Highlighted by the events over the last 48 hours on our continent that have bred and inspired fear, hatred, and heartbreak, I feel as though I’ve been pulled into a vortex of disbelief, pain, and helplessness.  Although challenging, I try continuously to remind myself of the beauty that still exists in so many places, and to use music as a vehicle for human connection, expression, and healing.

December began with the third CMSM show with guest clarinetist Charlie Neidich.  I was introduced to Hindemith’s Quartet for violin, cello, clarinet and piano which was a delight to learn and perform; the program closed with Brahms’ divine clarinet quintet.  From Minneapolis I dove back into quartet land as we did our first Aizuri “self-present” with a winter solstice concert at the Spring Street Loft in a tasting menu program of selections from Mendelssohn’s Op. 13 quartet, Paul Wiancko’s Lift, Caroline Shaw’s Blueprint and concluding with Beethoven’s complete Op. 130 plus the Grosse Fuga.  

The next day I had the honor of joining a group of deeply inspiring musicians and people for an evening of Mozart, Schubert, and wonderful food at Robert and Lucy Mann’s legendary December 23rd gathering.  To see Bobby’s glowing, radiant face and Lucy’s glorious energy gave us all such jubilation as we played and ate our way through the evening.  Catching glimpses of both of their faces as they held hands and leaned their cheeks gently against each other during the slow movement of the Schubert cello quintet is something I will carry with me forever.  It was an honor and privilege to be in such a space.

I then hopped back over to Minnesota to spend the holidays with my family.  In fact, all five of us were back together to spend Christmas at our house, just like old times.  We took a little ski “staycation” as a nostalgic nod to our old road trips that featured hotel-room ramen dinners and late-night swimming!  Baby bro Daniel and I took a day to do some outreach at the Blake School in Edina, where we presented interactive performances for the adorable and beautifully engaged five- and six-year-old scholars at Blake (“Who wants to be the train conductor next!?”).

January began with a trip over the pond back to Italy to finish work on the documentary that was made about Le storie di vita nel legno, the refugee project I was working on for my seven-month stay last year (see video clip below).  It was even more special than I had anticipated to be back with old friends and “family” in Manerbio and Bologna.  Work on the documentary is nearly coming to a conclusion; the fully edited version will be premiered at Cornell in April alongside a performance featuring the U.S. premiere of the trios that were commissioned for the project.

Before arriving at Scrag, there was a 27-hour journey that began in a rental car in Bologna, and continued with flights from MXP-JFK-SFO and ended in a rental car in San Jose!  I went to make my annual visit to Scott Krijnen’s orchestra classroom at Castillero Middle School.  Scott happens to not only be one of the most dedicated, tireless and inspirational educators I’ve ever witnessed, but a fabulous cellist as well.  He won a $20,000 grant for Castillero last summer for having been selected as “Bay Area Teacher of the Year.”  Joining us again were Larry and Trudy Rankin, the parents of Corry Rankin, whose cello now lives, donated, in the home of a deserving Castillero cello student every year.  It gave me great spiritual and musical food to volunteer with these 300+ string players again; we closed the week with a performance of Vivaldi’s Winter (the kids did a ridiculously amazing job!) and Beethoven’s G major string trio…

And that brings us to Scrag!  I’ll make the late-night drive back to Cornell following our last concert today, where I look forward to hitting the ground running with all of my remarkable students!

With love, thoughts and best wishes to all those that are suffering at the hands of recent decisions made by this 45th Administration and to the families of the most recent attack in Quebec City, QC…

Pre-AQ Winter Solstice show @ Spring Street Loft
Pre-Aizuri Quartet Winter Solstice show @ Spring Street Loft
After our first Op. 130 + Grosse Fuga...the "maiden voyage!"
After our first Op. 130 + Grosse Fuga…the “maiden voyage!”
Post-AQ concert reception
Post-AQ concert reception
The legendary December 23rd gathering, Lucy & Bobby Mann
The legendary December 23rd gathering, Lucy & Bobby Mann
With Charlie Neidich, Mark Steinberg, Nicky Mann, Julia Lichten and David Geber post-Mozart and Schubert @ The Manns'
With Charlie Neidich, Mark Steinberg, Nicky Mann, Julia Lichten and David Geber post-Mozart and Schubert @ The Manns’
Kim Kids Ski Staycation!
Kim Kids Ski Staycation!
Christmas Morning 2016
Christmas Morning 2016
CMSM Next outreach visit with bro Daniel @ The Blake School
CMSM Next outreach visit with bro Daniel @ The Blake School

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Visiting old friends from the immigration non-profit, Cooperativa Selene in Italy
Visiting old friends from the immigration non-profit, Cooperativa Selene in Italy
Homemade lasagne by one of my Italian "mamas," Giusy Barbieri =)
Homemade lasagne by one of my Italian “mamas,” Giusy Barbieri =)
The famed and mouth-watering tortelloni @ Serghei's in Bologna!
The famed and mouth-watering butter-and-sage tortelloni @ Serghei’s in Bologna!
Volunteering @ Castillero Middle in San Jose
Volunteering @ Castillero Middle in San Jose
With Scott and the Rankins
With Scott and the Rankins @ Castillero
With Scott and Paige Steffler, the holder of Corry's cello
With Scott and Paige Steffler, the 16-17 holder of Corry Rankin’s cello
The view from our Scrag Mountain rehearsal headquarters =)
The view from our Scrag Mountain rehearsal headquarters =)
Pre-concert dinner @ Green Mountain Girls' Farm!
Pre-concert dinner @ Green Mountain Girls’ Farm!
Chicken coup @ Green Mountain Girls' Farm...post-concert party with the hens!
Chicken coup @ Green Mountain Girls’ Farm…post-concert party with the hens!
Uno!
Uno!
After our final concert @ Scrag with Evan & Mary
After our final concert @ Scrag with Evan Premo & Mary Bonhag

Love Trumps Hate

It has now been more than a week since our nation awoke to the 2016 presidential election results.  As a woman, an artist, an educator, the daughter of an immigrant, and an American, I spent much of the following days in a state of heartbroken shock trying to come to grips with the reality of the monster we somehow elected to our highest office.

As my emotions rollercoastered and I was left with the feeling of hopelessness — particularly as I looked at my class of young, talented students at Cornell, many of whom were eligible to vote for the very first time — I wondered if we will ever be able to overcome the pain of a divided nation.  It was in that moment that I received a notice from Cornell’s president announcing a student-organized walk-out protest that would be taking place on campus.

I excused all of my students who wished to attend, and in fact went to the rally myself.  I was so deeply moved when I saw the sea of students who had come out in droves to exercise their right to organize and protest.  I was perhaps even more moved when the chants of outrage – and yes, we should be outraged – turned into chants of “Love Trumps Hate.”  I had not yet thought about our state of the union in a positive light, one that preaches love, until that moment.  I joined with admiration for our students as they helped me look forward to the possibility — nay, the necessity — that Love will Trump Hate.

Today, I sat down to write this post about all that has gone on in my rich life over the last 6 weeks through a sense of love, beauty, grace, and positivity.  As we grieve and attempt to come together as a people, we also must hold onto the splendid things that still exist for us and bring varied worlds together.  I felt blessed to look back and realize how much love had actually filled my life as of late.

I made a quick journey to Boston to hear and see my ultra talented kid brother Daniel‘s first performance as a new member of the Boston Symphony — a semi-staged Der Rosenkavalier — with the glorious Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, and Franz Hawlata singing the title roles.  The BSO and the entire cast sounded inspired, fresh, and brilliant.  The stage, the plot, and the hall were filled with love.

I then zipped to Minneapolis for the season opener with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota with the incomparable Leon Fleisher.  Spending time with Mr. Leon and his wonderful wife and duo partner, Ms. Katherine Jacobson, is always inspiring and to make music together is entirely profound.  To be on stage performing one of the great warhorses of the literature — Brahms’ F minor piano quintet — with Mr. Leon along with my father Young-Nam and dear colleagues Sally Chisholm and Mina Smith was transporting.  And yes, filled with love.

After a busy week of quartet rehearsals as we prep for the next part of our season, I took a long weekend to head to Korea for my cousin’s wedding!  It was a crazy fast voyage (36 hours in-transit, 48 hours on the ground in Seoul!), but I was so incredibly grateful to have been there with our entire family.  The wedding day, family reunion, and time together were, of course, filled with love.

My travels then took me to beautiful San Diego State University where I was a guest artist at the Campanile Festival organized by the marvelous and talented Pei-Chun Tsai.  It was a fantastic week filled with rehearsals, side-by-side readings with students, master classes, Q & A sessions, and a festival concert.  The students were so engaged and eager, our rehearsals were great fun and inspirational (we even took an evening off to watch the Cubs win the World Series!) and I never complain about 75-and-sunny in November!  The week, in nearly every aspect, was yes, filled with love.

My return to Cornell brought an Ensemble X concert which featured Hans Abrahmson’s Schnee.  My studio and I are now happily in a whirlwind of rehearsals and studio classes as we prepare for our big solo recital coming up on Monday.  I heard many of them play an exceptional Mahler 6 last night as members of the Cornell Symphony Orchestra and I left the hall with smiles and cheers in my mind.  Another reminder that yes, our world can be filled with love.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving and remind ourselves of all that we do have to be grateful for, I leave you here with this post’s photo diary…

Daniel's first performance with the BSO
Daniel’s first performance with the BSO
Post-concert with the Fleishers, Sally, Mina and my dad
Post-concert with the Fleishers, Sally, Mina and my dad
Two giants -- Stan Skrowaczewski and Leon Fleisher greet each other backstage at the CMSM
Two giants — Stan Skrowaczewski and Leon Fleisher greet each other backstage at the CMSM
Seung-An and Jee-Eun's wedding in Seoul!
Seung-An and Jee-Eun’s wedding in Seoul!
Family Reunion time...
Friends and family reunion time!
Paying respects to our wonderful grandparents...
Paying respects to our wonderful grandparents…
Rehearsing the Prokofiev Duo Sonata with Pei-Chun...
Rehearsing the Prokofiev Duo Sonata with Pei-Chun…
Master Class with SDSU students
Master Class with SDSU students…
Open rehearsal @ SDSU
Open rehearsal @ SDSU, Campanile Festival
Campanile Festival concert with Brian Chen, Andra Padrichelli, and Toni James
Campanile Festival concert with Brian Chen, Andra Padrichelli, and Toni James
Cornell University election rally & protest
The sea of Cornell students at the rally & protest on campus

And finally, this post’s title video clip: “Love Trumps Hate:”

%22love-trumps-hate%22

 

Happy Autumn!

Although the 87-degree heat yesterday didn’t quite feel like the first day of autumn, I enjoyed a long walk home in the warm sun, taking in the last few moments of summer.  School is back in full swing at Cornell and I am elated with my studio of gifted students — they all have such beautiful artistic talent but are equally wonderful human beings.  I had missed walking up the slope, attending Bethe House dinners and hearing the chimes from the clock tower — it’s hard to believe I hadn’t been on campus in nearly 9 months.

I also had the great pleasure of really sinking my feet into my new life as an Aizuri — although I began with the quartet while I was living in Italy and we had some projects in Philadelphia, this fall is our first full-time entree together.  We kicked off the season with a whirlwind 5 days at Avaloch Music Farm, with which I completely fell in love!  The idea of creating an artist colony for performers is so beautiful; having a chance to take advantage of such a glorious setting, gorgeous facilities and the company of other fantastic musicians was inspiring.  Thank you to director Deb Sherr and the best, sweetest mascot of all time — Sylvie!

Amidst the new school year and quartet goings-on (as the newbie, I’m definitely playing catchup — on the docket this past month was 9 new quartets for me!), we also packed in a Knights chamber tour at the Skaneateles Festival, where I put in some serious time with a David Lang duo for violin and piano, some very cool tango-inspired quartets and quintets, and enjoyed the chance to take in beautiful Lake Skaneateles and our final performance outdoors at Anyala’s Vineyard…

Now it’s off to a recording project and Brooklyn show with the quartet, the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota season opener, a trip to catch my kid brother’s first performance with the Boston Symphony, and lots more teaching at Cornell.  Oh!  And I bought another home — this time a lovely house up in Ithaca!

As always, here I leave you with a little photo/video diary…hugs from NYC!

The famous Cornell Slope, first week of school!
The famous Cornell Slope, first week of school 2016!
Pre-concert @ the Skaneateles Festival
Pre-concert @ the Skaneateles Festival
Our final concert of SkanFest @ Anyala's Vineyard
Our final concert of SkanFest @ Anyala’s Vineyard
The gorgeous Avaloch Music Farm grounds
The gorgeous Avaloch Music Farm grounds
Aizuri Selfie!
Aizuri Selfie!
The salon-style performance space @ Avaloch
The salon-style performance space @ Avaloch

aq-mozart-avaloch

A little video snippet of our Mozart K. 387 run (click link above to watch)…

Dinner time with the whole crew!
Dinner time with the whole crew!
and Sylvie! Our dearest Avaloch mascot...a 4-month-old Berna-Doodle =)
And Sylvie! Our dearest Avaloch mascot…a 4-month-old Berna-Doodle =)
A visit with my former teacher, Mr. Bobby Mann and his wonderful wife Lucy
A visit with my former teacher, Mr. Bobby Mann and his wonderful wife Lucy
Painting time! The baseboards in my new house needed a little facelift, so nothing like a 1am solo painting party!
Painting time! The baseboards in my new house needed a little facelift, so nothing like a 1am post-teaching solo painting party!

Summer 2016 + “Le storie di vita nel legno”

(English)

As I say goodbye to my final summer festival of 2016, I wanted to write a post to look back upon the last two months and all that I lived and learned. I head back to Cornell later this week after nearly eight months away! It was very difficult to leave Italy, but I am so much looking forward to moving into my new home, greeting friends and seeing and working with my wonderful students again.

A few weeks ago I returned from my final presentation and performance in Italy (“Le storie di vita nel legno” or “The Stories of Life on Wood”) – it was an incredibly humbling, fulfilling, and unforgettable occasion. As many of you know already, my colleagues and I had been working on my Cornell Council for the Arts Biennial capstone project, which combined music, art, architecture and humanitarianism. We began with cultural exchange evenings with a group of new refugees (of Cooperativa Selene) who are in the process of seeking asylum in Italy; we performed bluegrass and Bach for them as they sang and danced traditional African music. It had been a dream of mine to somehow reach out to even a small community of refugees fleeing war, poverty and destruction and provide a platform to bridge cultures through the arts.

The final presentation and performance took place at Cascina Clarabella against the gorgeous backdrop of the Brescian countryside. At this event all of the various components of the project came together: the mural was commissioned and completed by Ottavia Lancini on which the refugees painted a beautiful and abstract depiction of their lives before immigrating to Italy. Can Bilir, a brilliant Cornell doctoral composition student wrote two new trios as response pieces to displaced peoples and performed a beautiful and moving improvisation on an emergency blanket. All three works were premiered in front of the mural, which were surrounded by trios by Mozart and Corelli; the concert was bookended by traditional North African music, song and dance performed by the refugees of Cooperativa Selene.

Before the capstone project presentation, I had one more solo recital tour in Tuscany and performed at some of the most beautiful basilicas I will ever see – the first built in 1107. That was followed by a lecture-performance on my CD, teaching my final private lessons and wrapping up final details for my move back to America…

Before leaving Italy, I was blessed to have visits from my dear family – first up my aunt and uncle, soon followed by my brother and parents. They even were able to catch a recital or two, and have a little R & R under the Italian sun. Upon my return to the States, I joined my fabulous Aizuri sisters for rehearsal retreats in Vermont and a performance at Princeton. I then headed out on the festival trail teaching and playing the world’s greatest chamber music in Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and the Boundary Waters. Below I leave you with a photo diary.

(Italiano)

Ho appena finito con l’ultimo festival per l’estate di 2016 e volevo scrivere un post per riflettere su tutto che ho imparato durante gli ultimi due mesi. Devo tornare a Cornell questa settimana e anche se era molto difficile a dire addio a Italia, sono entusiasta a traslocare nella mia casa nuova, vedere gli amici e gli studenti di nuovo.

Qualche settimane fa, sono tornata dalla mia ultima presentazione e concerto in Italia. Questo progetto è stato un viaggio lungo e profondo; qui vi lascio con una descrizione e un diario delle foto dal evento.

L’ispirazione per il progetto “Le storie di vita nel legno” è cominciata quando leggevo sulla crisi degli immigranti e profughi nel Mezz-Oriente e il nord d’Africa. Immaginavo un progetto che potrebbe essere una combinazione di forme d’arte varie – la musica, l’arte visuale, e il disegno architettonico. Avevo una visione dove poter creare un ponte tra culture diverse con l’arte e la musica.

Purtroppo in questo periodo in America c’è un attitudine chiusa riguardo profughi e nuovi immigranti in generale. Quindi quando sono arrivata in Italia in gennaio di quest’anno, con l’aiuto di Amie Weiss e Nicola Barbieri di Periscope for Arts, ho incontrato Maurizio Zanetti e i profughi della Cooperativa Selene di Manerbio. Abbiamo iniziato una serie di incontri con i ragazzi ogni 2-3 settimane dove facevamo uno scambio musicale e culturale. Loro suonavano la loro musica tradizionale africana per noi, e noi suonavamo la musica classica per loro. Eventualmente, in un modo informale, abbiamo cominciato a suonare insieme!

Come il mio sogno di questo progetto cresceva, ho contattato un’amica e collega Ottavia Lancini che ha disegnato i panelli e la struttura per questo murales bellissimo. I ragazzi di Selene hanno dipinto questo murales come una espressione delle loro vite, le loro viaggio da paesi vari in Africa a adesso qui in Italia. Tutti questi uomini sono scapati da situazioni gravi e pericolose nei loro paesi di origine, che includono Senegal, Nigeria, Costa d’Avorio, Lybia e Gambia.

La terza parte di questo progetto coinvolge una connessione con la mia università a New York, l’università di Cornell. Can Bilir, il compositore dei pezzi che abbiamo suonato viene dalla Turchia, ed è un candidato dottorato a Cornell nel dipartimento di composizione e ha scritto tre brani come una risposta a questo progetto e la crisi degli immigranti nel mondo.

Dopo il progetto a Clarabella, ho dovuto rientrare in America e ho cominciato una serie di festival musicale e ho passato un periodo di ritiro di prove con il mio quartetto. Prima della mia partenza, i miei genitori, fratello, e zii sono venuti a trovarmi in Italia e abbiamo passato un bel tempo insieme! Inoltre, ho suonato tre recital come solista a Manerbio e in Toscana. Qui vi lascio con un diario fotografico:

The preparations - Le preparazioni
The preparations – Le preparazioni
The documentary - Il documentario
The documentary – Il documentario
Painting the mural! Dipingono il murales!
Painting the mural! Dipingono il murales!
Can Bilir's "Emergency Blanket" - L'improvisazione con una coperta di emergenza da Can Bilir
Can Bilir’s “Emergency Blanket” – L’improvisazione con una coperta di emergenza da Can Bilir
The Periscope for Arts Trio - Il Trio di Periscope for Arts
The Periscope for Arts Trio – Il Trio di Periscope for Arts
The concert - Il concerto
The concert – Il concerto

 

My aunt & uncle and I at the Brescia castle! Gli zii ed io al castello di Brescia!
My aunt & uncle and I at the Brescia castle! Gli zii ed io al castello di Brescia!
Recital @ Borgo Vecchio, Manerbio! Il recital a Borgo Vecchio a Manerbio!
Recital @ Borgo Vecchio, Manerbio! Il recital a Borgo Vecchio a Manerbio!
Post-concert with friends - Dopo il concerto con amici
Post-concert with friends – Dopo il concerto con amici
My brother and girlfriend at the Brescia fountain - Il mio fratello e la sua ragazza alla fontana a Brescia
My brother and girlfriend at the Brescia fountain – Il mio fratello e la sua ragazza alla fontana a Brescia
My sweet cousins in Florence! Le mie cugine a Firenze!
My sweet cousins in Florence! Le mie cugine a Firenze!
Recital in the basilica of Pitigliano, built in 1107! Il recital nella basilica di Pitigliano, costruito nel anno 1107!
Recital in the basilica of Pitigliano, built in 1107! Il recital nella basilica di Pitigliano, costruito nel anno 1107!
Dinner with my "Italian parents" and my real parents! A cena con i miei "genitori italiani" e i miei genitori reali!
Dinner with my “Italian parents” and my real parents! A cena con i miei “genitori italiani” e i miei genitori reali!
Cremonese gelato with my parents =) Gelato cremonese con i miei =)
Cremonese gelato with my parents =) Gelato cremonese con i miei =)
Crowden kiddos 2016
Crowden kiddos 2016
Final Crowden Concert - L'ultimo concerto a Crowden
Final Crowden Concert – L’ultimo concerto a Crowden
Quartet shenanigans! Il ritiro con il quartetto a Vermont!
Quartet shenanigans! Il ritiro con il quartetto a Vermont!
PACO Festival kiddos 2016
PACO Festival kiddos 2016
Fiddle jam session with Mason Jennings and Tim Reese @ NLCMI 2016! Un "jam" con i musicisti tradizionale folk al festival in Minnesota!
Fiddle jam session with Mason Jennings and Tim Reese @ NLCMI 2016! Un “jam” con i musicisti tradizionale folk al festival in Minnesota!
Rehearsals @ NLCMI - Le prove al festival in Minnesota
Rehearsals @ NLCMI – Le prove al festival in Minnesota
Addio, Italia!
Addio, Italia!

New Sisters, Selene Salons, and Milan + Tuscany = Heaven • Nuove Sorelle, Incontri Selene, e Milano + Toscana = Paradiso

(English)

As I missed writing a post last month, forgive me for packing two months of “happening now” into one entry!  It’s been a beautifully rich, artistically fulfilling, inspiringly humbling, and thoughtful time…

The beginning of April brought a quick week-long trip back to the States for a concert with the fabulous Pete Wiley and the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota (where I get to play with papa and bro — what could be better!?) and then to Philadelphia where I spent my first week with my new Aizuri sisters.  We gave our debut performance together at Wolf Trap which included the premiere of a new quartet (an homage to Beethoven 18/6) by the lovely Caroline Shaw.

Back to Italy I went, for a fabulous week with brother Daniel who came to visit and even joined me and colleagues Amie Weiss and Nicola Barbieri for a chamber music concert!  Then to Tuscany it was for a solo recital in one of the most heavenly places on earth, San Quirico d’Orcia — music of Bach, Thomas, and Paganini filled the program.

A beautiful Friday in Cremona brought a group of American students from the IES Program, for whom I played tour guide at Il Museo del Violino which was followed by a true Cremonese sound-post adjustment.  Two more concerts in Milan with Milano Classica (including a period-style performance of Pergolesi’s “La Serva Padrona” on gut strings at 415!) and that brings us to May…

My capstone project here in Italy, now entitled “Le storie di vita nel legno,” involves a group of wonderful refugees from an array of war-torn countries such as Libya, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast.  In collaboration with Periscope for Arts, we have been joining together for “salons” during which we exchange music, and sometimes song and dance.  In June, we will present the premiere of a new work by Can Bilir, a doctoral composer at Cornell in front of a large wooden-panel mural that they will paint to tell their stories…

I leave you here with a diary of photos and video…

(Italiano)

Purtroppo non sono riuscita a scrivere nulla in aprile, quindi spero che voi mi perdonerete per parlare di due mesi in un solo post!  E’ stato un tempo molto ricco, artisticamente appagante, e pieno di pensieri…

All’inizio di aprile sono tornata in America per una settimana dove ho suonato un concerto con il bravissimo Pete Wiley e la Chamber Music Society of Minnesota (ci suono spesso con mio papa’ e mio fratello!), poi una settimana a Filadelfia con le mie “nuove sorelle” del Quartetto Aizuri.  Abbiamo suonato il nostro primo concerto insieme a Wolf Trap cui e’ incluso il premiere di un nuovo brano dalla fantastica Caroline Shaw.

Sono rientrata in Italia per una settimana con mio fratello — lui e’ venuto a trovarmi — e ha anche suonato un concerto di musica da camera con me, Amie Weiss e Nicola Barbieri!  Poi, sono andata in Toscana per un concerto da solista; ho suonato brani da Bach, Thomas, e Paganini a San Quirico d’Orcia — un luogo fenomenale…

Ho passato un giorno a Cremona al Museo del Violino, facendo la “guida” per un gruppo di studenti americani, e dopo ho fatto una visita a un liutaio proprio cremonese. Ho avuto altri due concerti a Milano con il gruppo Milano Classica (cui coinvolto “La Serva Padrona” di Pergolesi suonata sulle corde budello e a 415 mhz!)…

Finalmente abbiamo fatto altri due incontri con i ragazzi della Cooperativa Selene con cui stiamo facendo un progetto finale da presentare alla Cascina Clarabella il 15 giugno.  I profughi di questa cooperativa vengono da Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, e Costa d’Avorio; ci incontriamo per avere uno scambio di musica, canzoni, e danze…in giugno, andremo insieme a Ieso per creare un murales che dire le loro storie, davanti al quale suoneremo un concerto…

E’ tutto per ora, e vi lascio qui con una raccolta delle foto:

Post-Wolf Trap Debut!  Dopo il concerto a Wolf Trap!
Post-Wolf Trap Debut!  The Aizuris + Caroline Shaw…Dopo il concerto a Wolf Trap!  Le Aizuri + Caroline Shaw…
Me and D, atop Il Duomo in Milan...Daniele ed io sulla terrazza del Duomo a Milano...
Me and D, atop Il Duomo in Milan…Daniele ed io sulla terrazza del Duomo a Milano…
Beach picnic - the view from Monte Isola...Un picnic sulla spiaggia - la vista da Monte Isola...
Beach picnic – the view from Monte Isola…Un picnic sulla spiaggia – la vista da Monte Isola…
Our chamber music concert in Manerbio...Il nostro concerto di musica da camera a Manerbio...
Our chamber music concert in Manerbio…Il nostro concerto di musica da camera a Manerbio…
Warming up in Tuscany...facendo un po' di warm-up in Toscana...
Warming up in Tuscany…facendo un po’ di warm-up in Toscana…
Under the Tuscan sun...Sotto il sole toscano...
Under the Tuscan sun…Sotto il sole toscano…
Getting set for the tour at Museo del Violino...Prima del tour al Museo del Violino...
Getting set for the tour at Museo del Violino…Prima del tour al Museo del Violino…
The brilliant luthier Grisales...Il bravissimo liutaio Grisales a Cremona...
The brilliant luthier Grisales…Il bravissimo liutaio Grisales a Cremona…
Pre-concert with friends Sofie and Jozek...prima del concerto con amici Sofie e Jozek...
Pre-concert with friends Sofie and Jozek…prima del concerto con amici Sofie e Jozek…
Post-"La Serva Padrona" with Steve...Dopo "La Serva Padrona" con amico Steve
Post-“La Serva Padrona” with Steve…Dopo “La Serva Padrona” con amico Steve
A salon evening with the young men from Cooperativa Selene...Il nostro incontro con i ragazzi di Cooperativa Selene...
A salon evening with the young men from Cooperativa Selene…Il nostro incontro con i ragazzi di Cooperativa Selene…
The location of our June project @ Cascina Clarabella...Il luogo del nostro progetto a giugno @ Cascina Clarabella...
The location of our June project @ Cascina Clarabella…Il luogo del nostro progetto a giugno @ Cascina Clarabella…

International Women’s Day – La Festa delle Donne

As March each year brings Women’s History Month in the United States, I didn’t know how special a day March 8th — International Women’s Day — is here in Italy…

On the professional side Stateside, this date happened to coincide with my album Routes of Evanescence — a celebration of American women composers — receiving an honorable review in Strings Magazine and a spot on violinist.com.  A video that we made of Augusta Read Thomas’ Incantation brought additional light to the incredible female composers featured on the CD, and made me forever grateful for the luxury that is being able to work with living composers today.  From our first pre-release concert on November 22nd to the album being officially released internationally today, the record has now come full circle.

On the personal side across the ocean, my beautiful Italian “family” brought me into the celebration of La Festa delle Donne here in Manerbio.  My dear “Zio” Luigi greeted me that morning with a sweet, beautiful bouquet of yellow mimosa flowers — the traditional gift to ladies on March 8th — which brought tears to my eyes.  My gratitude for the gracious welcome I have had from friends and family here in Italy has been astounding, and it seems that all things in turn, come full circle.

I just finished an exciting meeting with the Selene Cooperative, the group with whom I’m working on the music-public art-refugee project, and I return to Milan next week for another concert project with Milano Classica, but in the meantime, I leave you with a little photo reel:

Ogni anno, marzo e’ Il Mese della Storia delle Donne negli stati uniti, ma non lo sapevo come importante La Festa delle Donne (8 marzo) e’ qui in Italia…

Nel lato professionale, questa data ha coinciso con il mio CD Routes of Evanescence — una celebrazione delle compositrici americane — ricevendo una bella critica nella rivista Strings Magazine e un articolo a violinist.com.  Abbiamo fatto un film corto del brano di Augusta Read Thomas si chiama Incantation, e ho realizzato come sono grata per la capacita’ di lavorare con i compositori viventi.

Nel lato personale, la mia “famiglia” italiana mi hanno portato dentro la celebrazione per La Festa delle Donne qui in Italia.  Quando mi sono alzata, il mio “Zio” Luigi mi ha dato un bouquet dei questi bei fiori gialli (le mimose) — ho imparato dopo che questi fiori sono il regalo tradizionale per La Festa delle Donne.  Ho cominciato a piangere, e ho realizzato come sono super grata per l’ospitalità che sto ricevendo qui in Italia.

Ho appena finito un bel incontro con Il Cooperativo Selene con chi sto lavorando nel mio progetto della musica, l’arte, e i rifugiati.  Ritorno a Milano la settimana prossima per un altro concerto con Milano Classica, ma adesso, ti lascio con un rotolo delle foto:

Pre-release @ the Carriage House in Ithaca - Il primo concerto del tour a Ithaca
(11/2015) Pre-release @ the Carriage House in Ithaca – Il primo concerto del tour a Ithaca
Miss Ieva playing Tonia Ko's piece on harpsichord - Sig.a Ieva suona il cembalo nel brano di Tonia Ko
Miss Ieva playing Tonia Ko’s piece on harpsichord – Sig.a Ieva suona il cembalo nel brano di Tonia Ko
The day the record dropped! - Il giorno di l'inaugurazione del CD!
(12/2015) The day the record dropped! – L’inaugurazione del CD!
NYC Show @ the Spring Street Loft: Seeger Sonata - Il concerto a New York alla Spring Street Loft: il brano di Ruth Crawford Seeger
NYC Show @ the Spring Street Loft: Seeger Sonata – Il concerto a New York alla Spring Street Loft: il brano di Ruth Crawford Seeger
A little bluegrass... - Un po' del bluegrass...
A little bluegrass… – Un po’ del bluegrass…
All done! We've come full circle - Tutto finito!
All done! We’ve come full circle – Tutto finito!
With my lovely family after the concert - Con la mia famiglia carina dopo il concerto...
With my lovely family after the concert… – Con la mia famiglia carina dopo il concerto…
Super Heroines! Le Super Eroine!
Super-heroines! Le Super-eroine!
My beautiful Mimosa flowers from Gigi... - I miei bei fiori da Gigi...
(3/2016) My beautiful Mimosa flowers from Gigi… – I miei bei fiori da Gigi…

And on one final note, just before International Women’s Day, Cornell lost its president, a brave and brilliant woman, Elizabeth Garrett.  Rest In Peace.

President Garrett

Knighted Nights on the Road

I spent a good bit of February back in the States for a Knights tour with the fabulous Gil Shaham.  From an epic day at La Guardia (a 7-hour wait finally ended in a canceled flight!) to packed-house concerts in Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, Chapel Hill and others, we ended the tour in Los Angeles where I had an extra layover day to hang with my fabulous family before heading back to Italy.  Here are some takeaways…

Ho passato la maggior parte di febbraio negli stati uniti per un tour con Il Knights e il favoloso Gil Shaham.  Abbiamo avuto un giorno bruttissimo al aeroporto La Guardia e un sacco di concerti a Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, Chapel Hill e altri, abbiamo finito il tour a Los Angeles dove ho avuto un giorno libero a passare un po’ di tempo con i miei cugini meravigliosi prima di sono tornata in Italia.  Sotto sono qualche foto…

A rehearsal in Atlanta - Una prova a Atlanta...
A rehearsal in Atlanta – Una prova a Atlanta…
Rehearsing in Chicago (who's that in the back of the section!?) - Provando a Chicago - chi e' in dietro la sezione!?
Rehearsing in Chicago (who’s that in the back of the section!?) – Provando a Chicago – chi e’ in dietro la sezione!?
Selfie with Gil!
Selfie with Gil!
Killing time at LAX waiting for our shuttle - Aspettando per il nostro autobus al aeroporto Los Angeles
Killing time at LAX waiting for our shuttle – Aspettando per il nostro autobus al aeroporto Los Angeles…
Yum! A day at the beach in LA - Una giornata al mare a Los Angeles...
Yum! A day at the beach in LA – Una giornata al mare a Los Angeles…
Paying respects to my wonderful grandparents - Omaggi ai miei meravigliosi nonni...
Paying respects to my wonderful grandparents – Omaggi ai miei nonni meravigliosi…

And on a final note, as we began our tour, we all received the heartbreaking news that we had lost a dear colleague; a great composer and even greater man, Steven Stucky.  Rest In Peace.

Steve Stucky

Gennaio in Italia

January in Italy brought so many beautiful things:

First, a trip to Milan for meetings and rehearsals with colleagues, the premiere of a new multi-media work by Daniele Ghisi, and a hike to the top of Il Duomo.  Then, a lasagne cooking lesson with one of my incredible Italian “mamas” Giusy, and lastly, a marvelous traditional Japanese painting class hosted by teacher Fumiko Sugita and our dear Amie Weiss, co-founder of the Periscope for Arts non-profit organization.  An American learning traditional Japanese painting in Italy — it was quite the international afternoon!

Gennaio in Italia ha portato tante cose belle:

Primo, un viaggio a Milano per alcuni appuntamenti e le prove con i miei colleghi, la premiere di un nuovo brano multi-media da Daniele Ghisi, e un’escursione al terrazzo del Duomo.  Poi, una lezione delle lasagne con la mia “mamma” italiana, Giusy, e, finalmente, una lezione di pittura tradizionale giapponese ospitato dalla nostra insegnante Fumiko Sugita, e la nostra cara Amie Weiss e Periscope Uni.  Un’americana sta imparando la pittura tradizionale giapponese in Italia — era un pomeriggio molto internazionale!

Il Duomo a Milano
Il Duomo a Milano
The view from the top of Il Duomo - La vista del terrazzo del Duomo
The view from the top of Il Duomo – La vista del terrazzo del Duomo
Il concerto di "An Experiment with Time" da Daniele Ghisi a Milano
Il concerto di “An Experiment with Time” da Daniele Ghisi a Milano
The lasagne lesson - La lezione delle lasagne
The lasagne lesson – La lezione delle lasagne
The Finished Product! - Il Prodotto Finito!
The finished product! – Il prodotto finito!
The students... Gli studenti...
The students… – Gli studenti…
Fumiko, our teacher -- Fumiko, la nostra insegnante
Fumiko, our teacher – Fumiko, la nostra insegnante
My bamboo! - Il mio bamboo!
My bamboo! – Il mio bamboo!

La Vita Italiana

I arrived here just outside of Cremona one week ago today to begin a fabulous new chapter of life in Italy.  As I packed things up in Ithaca to prepare for a 6-month sabbatical here, I thought of a different pace of life, inspiring new projects, new friends and “family,” and of course, food and wine to die for.  It has been a joy to settle in.

Cultural diplomacy projects with the non-profit Periscope, teaching at l’Istituto Stradivari in Cremona, work with our Cornell branch in Rome, and concerts in Milan are all to come, so stay tuned.  Below, I leave you with a few photos from my first days here…

Sono arrivata qui a Manerbio una settimana fa per cominciare un capitolo nuovo della vita in Italia.  Ho un sabbatico da 6 mesi qui, e pensavo di l’idee dei nuovi progetti, gli amici e una “famiglia” nuovi, e il cibo e il vino incredibile.  E’ stata una gioia.

I progetti con l’organizzazione Periscope, insegnamento all’Istituto Stradivari a Cremona, il lavoro con nostro branch di Cornell a Roma, e i concerti a Milano verranno.  Qui di seguito ci sono qualche foto da i miei primi giorni qui…

The First Dinner!  La Prima Cena!
La nostra prima cena – Our first dinner =)
Il Pranzo della Domenica con la mia "famiglia italiana" - Sunday lunch with my new "Italian family"
Il pranzo della domenica con la mia “famiglia italiana” – Sunday lunch with my new “Italian family”
Il Cibo Coreano - With rice cooker in tow, I made my first Korean meal here in Northern Italy!
Il cibo coreano – With rice cooker in tow, I made my first Korean meal here in Northern Italy!
Il Duomo a Brescia - the beautiful cathedral in Brescia
Il Duomo a Brescia – The beautiful cathedral in Brescia

Castillero + Corry

Earlier this week, I returned, as I have now for several years, to serve as a volunteer in Mr. Scott Krijnen’s extraordinary string orchestra classroom at Castillero Middle School in San Jose, CA.  Each year I am humbled and inspired by Scott’s uncompromising dedication, drive, and exceptional ability to relate so beautifully to the world of middle-schoolers.  Although Castillero is a Title 1 school (a program established to assist low-income families with school costs) and many of the 300+ kids who pour through his door everyday come from far-from-ideal home situations, one would never know.  Through instilling true self-belief, boundless energy at the podium, reaching beyond the classroom and into the hallways, and demanding excellence — not only on a musical level, but on a human one — Scott has, through positive inspiration, transformed these students’ lives.

My time this year at Castillero was particularly special; I was privileged to be a part of the bestowal of a cello that once belonged to a dear friend — Corry Rankin, who left this world in a flash all too soon some 13 years ago — unto Scott’s orchestra program.  Drs. Trudy and Larry Rankin, Corry’s parents, had been the stewards of Corry’s second cello (the “Sparks” cello (made by Tom Sparks of Indiana University)) and when they learned of Scott’s program and approach to bringing the arts into the next generation, it was decided: Corry’s cello would be donated to the Castillero Orchestra Program.  It will now be given to a deeply deserving and dedicated student-citizen each year.  The Rankins flew to California from Florida to deliver the cello and share the story of the instrument with each of the 7 orchestra classes; being witness to the education, grace, and paying it forward that occurred has left a forever-lasting mark for me, and likely for nearly every student in that room.

It is because of people like this and the beautiful kindness and generosity they show to those around them that allows one to realize and see, there is still so much good in the world.

1/4 of Scott's "00" hour (a before-school elective orchestra) -- a collection of 100 dedicated pre-teens who want to make music
1/4 of Scott’s “00” hour (a before-school elective orchestra) — a collection of 100 dedicated pre-teens who are there for the love of it…
Unpacking Corry's cello
Unpacking Corry’s cello…
The first recipient of the "Sparks" cello, Ceci, with Mr. Krijnen and the Rankins
The first recipient of the “Sparks” cello, Ceci, with Mr. Krijnen and the Rankins…
A most giant thank-you card from the kids at Castillero to the Rankins
A most giant thank-you card from the kids at Castillero to the Rankins!

Flash Mob, Fiddle Camp, Fall Foliage, and the Final Cut

Looking back at the last month, although my “plate overfloweth” in so many ways, there were such unforgettable and momentous events that it seemed to fly by, like watching a most beautiful bird…

At our final stop on our Knights “L’histoire” tour, we joined the brilliant John Heginbotham and a few of his Dartmouth dancers in a flash mob at the Baker-Berry Library in a choreographed (yep, us musicians too!) performance of Stockhausen/Shaw’s “Leo.”  From wearing music on our backs to crouching down on hands and knees, it was an interruptive moment for the ages!

John in action leading us through the flash mob flash rehearsal...
John in action leading us through the flash mob flash rehearsal…
Playing amidst the whirling dancers, following my "music stand" Eddie Burns...
Playing amidst the whirling dancers, following my “music stand” Eddie Burns…
And the final pose, crouching down to deliver the final "Leo the Lion" pizzicati to the dancers and the other Knights...
And the final pose, crouching down to deliver the final “Leo the Lion” pizzicati to the dancers and the other Knights…

I closed out October with some of my new favorite violinists and fiddlers; director Rick Manning put together the inaugural Ithaca Fiddle & Improv Workshop, which brought together violinists from all walks of the musical world.  Sara Caswell, a jazz genius, Duncan Wickel, a bluegrass, old time, and rock shredder, Joe d’Esposito, a chopping wizard, Susan Waterbury, my fabulous “sister from the other hill” and professor of violin at Ithaca College, and I made up the faculty for the workshop that ushered students through sessions in classical ornamentation, bluegrass tune-learnin’, bebop riffs, old time bowing techniques, practice techniques, and perfecting the chop.  We closed out the weekend with a down-home fly-by-the-seat show at the Carriage House that featured folk music from Bartok to Bill Monroe…

"Professor Wickel" at the blackboard, demo-ing his badass ear-training exercise...
“Professor Wickel” at the blackboard, demo-ing his badass ear-training exercise…
Director Rick Manning and Sara Caswell opening things up at the Carriage House show!
Director Rick Manning and Sara Caswell opening things up at the Carriage House show!
Playing some Bartok duos and an improv piece that I wrote ("For Leah") at the Carriage House show with the lovely Susan Waterbury...
Playing some Bartok duos and an improv piece that I wrote (“For Leah”) at the Carriage House show with the lovely Susan Waterbury…
Geeking-out, fiddle style, having a round-table talk on practice techniques, improv, and chopping...
Geeking-out, fiddle style, having a round-table talk on practice techniques, improv, and chopping…

There aren’t many words I could find to express the sheer beauty of autumn in Ithaca; grateful for the Indian summer we just had and taking in the glory of the walk to my office along the Cornell Arts Quad…

IMG_4339 IMG_4341

And the album is DONE!  After nearly a year, I am a bit delirious and rather excited to announce that my first solo album, Routes of Evanescence: Music for Solo Violin & Violin + 1 is ready to drop!  My brilliant engineer and producer, Leszek Wojcik and I worked on the final edits as I completed the album artwork and liner notes — and here we go!  Pre-release begins 11/22 in Ithaca, and the album release tour continues to the Twin Cities and NYC on 12/6 and 12/17, respectively…

The album cover art...
The album cover art…
And the album back cover art...
And the album back cover art…

YNK @ 70

I am just now beginning to come down from the surreality that was this past Sunday — it was, without a doubt, the most meaningful and magical day of my life.

In honor of my father’s 70th birthday, with the help of our distinguished guest violist Nobuko Imai and many others, we presented him — in-between quintets by Mozart and Mendelssohn — with a special, monogrammed Japanese piñata, a surprise visit and performance with my brother Daniel (who secretly flew in from New York), four secret commissions written in honor of the occasion by John Harbison, Steve Heitzeg, Peter Child, and Stan Skrowaczewski, and concluded the celebration with the YNK SSO — the “Young-Nam Kim Secret Surprise Orchestra” — comprised of 29 of his current and former students performing the slow movement of Mozart’s final quartet all together on stage.  There were and still are no words to describe the emotions of the day; I leave you with the photos and videos below.

Homemade sushi dinner, courtesy of the Ishidas!
A homemade sushi dinner in honor of Nobuko Imai, courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Ishida!
A post-dinner hang with the incomparable Miss Nobuko Imai
A post-dinner hang with the incomparable Miss Nobuko
The Piñata Pull -- YNK with Miss Nobuko Imai and Mr. Takuzo Ishida, with the help of the lovely Eli Bissonett
The Piñata Pull!  YNK with guest Nobuko Imai and Takuzo Ishida, with the help of the lovely Eli Bissonett
The greatest viola trio ever created; Danny Kim, Nobuko Imai, and Sally Chisholm performing Tertis' arrangement of Beethoven's Op. 87 trio, in honor of YNK
The greatest viola trio ever created; Danny Kim, Nobuko Imai, and Sally Chisholm performing Tertis’ arrangement of Beethoven’s Op. 87 trio, in honor of YNK
Performing Harrison's "Aria: No Answer" for Papa Kim
Performing Harbison’s “Aria: No Answer” for Papa Kim
Performing Heitzeg's "Stone (Save the Boundary Waters)"
Performing Heitzeg’s “Stone (Save the Boundary Waters)” for Papa Kim
Performing, with brother Daniel, duos by Peter Child and Stan Skrowaczewski
Performing, with brother Daniel, duos for YNK by Peter Child and Stan Skrowaczewski
YNK SSO
The YNK SSO, Team Violins
The YNK SSO, Team Lower Strings
The YNK SSO, Team Lower Strings

Post-Concert with the stunned YNK =)
Post-Concert with the birthday boy =)
At the after-party with brother Daniel and the legendary Maestro Stan
At the after-party with brother Daniel and the legendary Maestro Stan