Taking a moment to breathe out on the gorgeous water at the Deleware Water Gap, I looked back on the last month, realizing how deeply complex life can be – and perhaps it is that complexity that gives meaning to each chapter. And then, a frosty river plunge. I thought of the far-too-early passing of a dear family friend, Takuzo Ishida – husband, father, chemist, bonsai master, carpenter, long-time CMSM Board member and, just last year, a recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors. His life was one of kindness, generosity, integrity, excellence, and joy. With blessings, may you Rest in Peace, Takuzosan.
With the quartet off for the past month, April was wonderful whirlwind of special performance experiences, projects, and teaching. Now in early May (how did that happen so fast?), we waved goodbye yesterday to the end of the semester here at Cornell, said hello to Slope Day, and ushered in the beginning of summer.
I had the great joy and honor of putting together a program of the Ruth Crawford Seeger sonata, Heifetz’s arrangements of a few Porgytunes, and then the Dvorak quintet with my dear friend and long-time duo partner, Ieva Jokubaviciute on our most recent CMSM concert. Her darling daughter and my unofficial goddaughter Alma came long for the tour, and my heart was so full spending time with her. She even gave us an impromptu concert of her entree into Suzuki Book 2 – life kinda doesn’t get better than that. Following the CMSM concert I had a chance to do some outreach volunteer visits to two of my favorite Twin Cities elementary schools – Blake and Valley Crossing – such fantastic kiddos!
After Minneapolis it was time to head back to Cornell to prep my annual faculty solo recital, entitled “Song and Dance Come Forth” which featured works for solo violin and viola + 1 written for, inspired by, or adapted from song and dance. A special tribute to John Harbison, now celebrating his 80th year followed some Bach baroque dances, followed by Brahms’ G Major sonata and some bluegrass tunes – heading back to my childhood roots at fiddle camp in Northern Idaho…
Speaking of those childhood roots at fiddle camp in Sandpoint (a charming town near the Canadian border) where my father taught each summer at Gunther Schuller’s jazz and chamber music festival, I got to dive hard into the rich and inspiring folk music scene in Ithaca at the Friends of Stewart Park benefit concert. Sharing the stage with local legends in a program curated by Rick Manning – brilliant landscape architect, engaged citizen and bluegrass-er – we fiddled, strummed, plucked, stomped, and sang our way through the night at La Tourelle to fundraise for this fabulous organization.
Then it was off to Florida for a quick getaway to celebrate my cousin Hae-An’s pre-wedding weekend, a 36-hour trip out to the Bay for the Crowden Music Center‘s benefit and some surprise volunteer work at Castillero Middle, and then back to Cornell for our end-of-year student performances. My students gave their showcase solo recital on Monday and they blew me away – committed, thoughtful, and commanding performances. With an unexpected day off, I went down for a moment with my honey, on the Deleware River, and that brings us full circle.
Coming to you post-concert at Bucknell University, a short-and-sweet entry here to share some of the beautiful moments I’ve had the chance to be a part of over the last two months…
February started with a Knights camp bang, with an intensive rehearsal week in Brooklyn, a kick-off concert at Pioneer Works, and then off we went to take on Europe. Our first stop in Szczecin, Poland was one of my personal highlights (and surprisingly so) from the entire monthlong project. The concert hall there, Karlowicz Philharmonic Szczecin is one of the most enjoyable spaces – both in terms of physical beauty and acoustics – to play in. There was a magic that the group was able to find on stage that somehow got sent in a collective, artistic wave, out into the audience. I had a few deeply spiritual moments thinking of dear Stan “Bear” Skrowaczewski, who passed two years ago, wondering if he ever graced the podium on that stage…
From there it was a crazy 20-hour journey from a Polish Flixbus to the Berlin and Paris airports for a 36-hours-on-the-ground moment in Los Angeles to catch the Grammys. What an experience it was – something I never imagined being a part of my life, but alas, there we were. From the excitement at the Premiere Ceremony (that’s the one where the really cool musicians are – it’s in fact too cool for telecast), being surrounded by such incredible artists to walking the red carpet and taking in the juggernaut that is the Grammy Telecast, it was indeed unforgettable. Perhaps the two best moments of that whirlwind trip however, were 1) family time with my fabulous LA aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents, and 2) hitting the red carpet with my fabulous parents as my “date” to the event…
After hitting up my favorite soondooboo restaurant on my way back to LAX, it was back to Europe for concerts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Having the chance to play in arguably the two best halls in the world – the Elbphilarmonie in Hamburg and the Musikverein in Vienna was entirely inspiring. Avi Avital, our brilliant guest mandolinist on tour, brought the house down night after night, and we delighted in programs from Vivaldi, Bach and Beethoven to new works by Thomas Adés, Arvo Pärt, and our very own Colin Jacobsen and Christina Courtin. After multiple long-haul flights and countless hours on the tour bus, a huge debt of gratitude to Francisco Dasta who came up from Italy to be our on-location masseur!
A long journey back from Munich to Ithaca, I was elated to say hello to my house once again and to be back in my Cornell office with my students (many thanks to my incredible adjuncts who so expertly looked after my studio while I was away!). Another blizzard or two later, it was down to NYC and out to DC for some Aizuri Quartet concerts (here’s to the incredible vision of the Boulanger Initiative!), and now off to the Intricate Machines tour, organized by the two ultra creative composers Daniel Temkin and Phil Taylor.
And most importantly, my favorite moment of the season – the lake by my house, thawing for the first time in the spring sunlight, the ripples on the surface of the water glistening like aspen leaves in the wind…
It’s a relatively quiet morning at the Schiphol Airport – an airport that I have a strange fondness for, it having been where I spent an unexpected but wonderfully adventurous 17-hour layover back in my teenage days – as I sit with the BBC to my right and an espresso machine gurgling to my left. Another long stretch has passed since I’ve written here, and there is much to share, so I won’t dilly-dally any longer (except to say I’m already dreaming of the Parisian croissant that awaits me in two days time) –
As we navigate through a time in our culture – both at home and abroad – when truth seems optional and so much appears backward, it shines a particularly radiant light when things go right. As I find myself exiting the most arduous 18-month stretch of my life, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for the five women who took time out of their busy lives to dive deep and set a maliciously spinning sphere back in orbit. There is still a long journey ahead as things worth fighting for are never a simple nor brief endeavor, but when things have been wrong for so long, justice – albeit interstitial for now – is powerful.
To the people who have provided the container for me to heal, for those who rebuilt my courage and strength, and the five women – representing all those doing just things in the world – I thank you. I leave you with these words from our greatest political and cultural leaders that I came across in the past months:
“It is difficult for the common good to prevail against the intense concentration of those who have a special interest, especially if the decisions are made behind locked doors.” – Jimmy Carter
“Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pain to bring it to light.” – George Washington
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – RBG
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” – Maya Angelou
And now, from stunning student recitals at Cornell amidst back-to-back blizzards up in Ithaca to family holiday time in Europe, concerts in Minneapolis and at the Lincoln Center Atrium to quartet tours in Dublin, North Carolina and the mountains of Vermont – and now, a BlueprintingGrammy nomination, I leave you here with a photo diary:
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…
Next up is a European tour with The Knights with a crazy (but of course I had to) jaunt to LA for the Grammys – Poland, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland – highlights will surely include concerts at the Vienna Musikverein and Hamburg Elbphilharmonie…
It has now been many months since I’ve had the wherewithal to make a new post to share with all of you – my apologies. The last 10 months have been perhaps the most difficult time of my life, and I have searched for moments that bring a glimpse of light into a sphere of darkness. I have discovered that when you find yourself surrounded by people who send out anger, immorality and dishonesty toward you in one realm, the universe sometimes sends out grace, compassion, and truth in another:
Several months ago, in a moment of overwhelming confusion and devastation, I had to board the C train at 72nd Street to head back uptown. I somehow had lost my ability to maintain composure in public and when tears began streaming down my cheeks, I sheepishly tucked myself into the corner of the subway train, hoping not to draw attention nor disturb other peoples’ commutes. I was silent in my tears, but nonetheless several people began to notice. My embarrassment grew larger than life, and short of getting off the train at a random stop or pulling the emergency cord only to prolong my journey home, I stayed on the train, wishing I could become invisible.
As New Yorkers feel the squeeze of the increasingly dysfunctional MTA, busy rush-hour commutes and crowded trains, one would expect a moment like this to bring annoyance or at least apathy. Instead, a kind woman – a perfect stranger – came up to me and said “Baby, you alright? It’s gonna be just fine, darlin – whatever it is.” She gave me a huge hug, and sat back down. At the next stop, a gentleman dressed in medical scrubs came over and said “Miss, are you ok? Is there anything I can do for you?” When I replied “No, thank you – I’m ok,” he replied, “Alright, and if you change your mind, I’ll be sitting right here.” And as we pulled into my station, an elderly woman stood next to me as I faced the doors waiting for them to open and she said “You know what you should do? Go home, take a deep breath, light a candle and say a prayer. Whatever this is it’ll be better tomorrow.” Then she hugged me too.
Three perfect strangers on a busy, packed New York subway…not in my wildest dreams would I have expected a moment like this. And in one 20-minute ride, there was suddenly light coming through my darkness, and I saw true goodness, and beauty on the New York subway. It reminded me of a passage from a gorgeous poem written by the enthralling Denice Frohman, with whom my quartet and I collaborated with at the MET a few months ago:
…the conductor interrupts, he’s sorry for the delay but we’re riding too close to the next train; a woman reaching for the pole accidentally grabs my hand, & in another world we would laugh & be lovers
& dance on the Q train,
to a power ballad or a bolero…
Perhaps this will be our evolved future =)
Thank you, Denice.
And with story time concluded, I owe you all 7 months of recaps, professional goings-on, tour photos, and memorable moments – I’ll keep my words brief and let the photos do the talking.
There is little I can write here that could possibly do justice to paying tribute to Robert Mann, my teacher, mentor and musical guru during my six years at Juilliard. Husband, father, grandfather, violinist, teacher, composer, conductor, and venerated founder of the Juilliard String Quartet – he was a truly remarkable creature. I had the great honor of seeing him and playing for him on two different occasions just days before his passing – once with my quartet and once for the Mann Family’s legendary chamber music concert/holiday party. As we say goodbye to another musical giant: with deep admiration and gratitude for all I learned from you, Rest In Peace, Bobby – you have left behind a remarkable legacy, and we will do our best to carry your torch onward.
December began with a bang, with my quartet’s Music and Isolationprogram featuring works by composers operating in different types of isolation – geographic, aural, and psychological – at the MET Museum. To hear the sounds of Carlo Gesualdo and Hildegard von Bingen (arranged by our dear friend Alex Fortes) in Gallery 534 was transportive, and we were excited to get a pretty cool review in the New York Times. Now it’s off to prepare for the third concert of our residency, this time exploring Japan Across the World (February 23 @ 7pm). From there it was a 6am flight to Minneapolis to join my dearest camrades in the Twin Cities for a program of Stravinsky chamber music including his incomparable “L’histoire du soldat,” and then back to Cornell to finish out the semester and see my students through a truly exceptional recital. I’ve rarely been so moved to hear a concert like that – my heart was so full.
Three new strings, two sleeps and one rental car later, I found myself in Philadelphia preparing for a concert with the quartet and Jonathan Biss as part of the Curtis Presents concert series – playing the Dvorak Quintet has never felt so invigorating and fresh.
From there it was off to the West Coast to volunteer with my beloved colleague Scott Krijnen and his ever inspiring orchestra classroom at Castillero Middle School. Corry’s parents, Larry and Trudy Rankin, were also able to join us again for the third time to participate in our musical goings-on and meet the young boy who now holds Corry’s cello – an honor that falls to the 8th-grade principal cellist each year. Watching Scott’s energy, demeanor, encouragement and teaching of life knowledge in that orchestra classroom is entirely magical.
Back to New York I went to enjoy a huge snow storm (snow day, baby!) from the coziness of my condo and to prep the recording of five new works that were written for and premiered by the Aizuri Quartet. I’m happy to say that the album is now officially “in the can.” From sound sculptures to melodicas, broken bow hairs to the talkback button, video crews to full takes, it was a complicated, exhausting, but wonderful adventure. A warm thank you to Oktaven Audio and Ryan Streber for their fantastic work on every level. Stay tuned…the album “drops” on New Amsterdam Records in September!
Unfortunately my entire holiday break was spent decked with some crazy strain of the flu – influenza A2 – knocked me flat and landed me in urgent care followed by 23 hours a day in bed, everyday for 8 solid days…serious bummer. I suppose an optimist might call that a forced vacation? The lovely thing, was, I was able to be at home with family and lean on them as I became strong again. Luckily I had another concert and some master classes to give in the Twin Cities later in the month, so I got to return again in a much healthier state. The annual family concert of the CMSM was so special: Bartok duos with Papa Kim in honor of Mr. Mann (we even used his old score that he left us the last time he played those in Minneapolis) to a Leopold-and-Wolfgang rivalry and Peter Child’s gorgeous new work, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” for mixed chamber ensemble and children’s chorus.
After some educational outreach visits at the Blake School,Trinity at River Ridge, and a master class at the Northern Lights School of Violin, we were greeted by another blizzard in Minnesota! It was my second unexpected but warmly welcomed snow day in just over one month. Both St. Paul and Minneapolis canceled school for nearly two full days (unheard of when I was a kid back in the day…y’all have gotten soft!). I managed to sneak out at just the right moment to catch a flight to Boston where I joined A Far Cry for their Guardians of the Groove program – and if I may say so, the group sounded quite groovy. I had a chance to catch up with some old friends and family from different convergences of life in-between our rehearsals, which was total soul food. From our last concert I hopped on a couple of puddle-jumpers to find myself back at my office doorstep ready to greet my students and hit the semester running at Cornell. This coming Friday will be my first concert of the semester on campus – Schubert’s Grand Duo on gut strings tuned down to A=430 with preeminent fortepianist, Malcolm Bilson.
2018, here we come.
As I look back over the last six weeks and realize – on a personal level – how dark things can sometimes be, I was reminded by a dear friend of a beautiful proverb:
Just when the caterpillar
Thought the world was over,
It became a butterfly.
I leave you here, as always, with a little photo diary of my goings-on and shenanigans over the last couple of months.
The Twin Cities bid farewell to a gentle giant on October 22, 2017. Ed Volker, the owner of our beloved hometown music shop, House of Note, passed peacefully in his daughter’s home surrounded by family and left behind a beautiful legacy of generosity and integrity. A dear friend and advocate for Minnesota performing arts, Ed will be remembered for his wit, warmth, and always making the little ones who came in for their violin rental sizings smile. Rest In Peace, Dear Ed!
I sit to write this in the dressing room of Toppan Hall in Tokyo as our quartet tour draws to a close. Looking back on the last 19 days in Japan – 9 recitals, 1 outreach concert, 2 entirely perfect tour managers, and my 3 quartet sisters – it’s truly something for which to give thanks…
October at Cornell was filled with excited prospective students coming to visit campus. One of my favorite things is to see the enthusiasm in a young high school senior’s eyes as they begin to contemplate that next huge leap in life, discovering what path would be right for them. Trial lessons and coaching observations went alongside my usual teaching schedule as my current students continued to amaze; we’re just now 2 weeks from our fall solo recital.
I hopped a flight to Minneapolis for our 2017-18 Chamber Music Society of Minnesota season opener with the incomparable Nobuko Imai. Playing my first Brahms Op. 111 (albeit totally ill with the flu) was intoxicating – there are few greater works of string chamber music out there. This concert was particularly special as we got to pull together a surprise for our dear Sally Chisholm, a core member and viola extraordinaire of the CMSM for the past 24 years. A little birdie told us that she would be celebrating her big 7-0 and unbeknownst to her, Miss Nobuko hand-carried a Japanese piñata from Tokyo (via Amsterdam and Geneva no less), brother Daniel (her former student from UW-Madison) flew in from Boston, and we put together a collection of three of the Twin Cities’ finest violists (Maiya Papach, Becca Albers and Dave Auerbach) who performed a “birthday suite” to honor Miss Sally.
It was then back to Ithaca with weekends in NYC as the quartet prepped for our first of five concerts as the Artists-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum. The title of the performance, “Music and Mayhem” took us on a journey through composers who wrote during or in honor of times of war, political upheaval and cultural oppression. Sofia Gubaidulina’s fourth quartet, Steve Reich’s Different Trainsand Beethoven’s Op. 74 quartet Harp brought us from one side of the globe to the other via three very different time periods in modern history. It was an unforgettable evening filled with pickup microphones, colored stage lighting coordinated with each bar of the Gubaidulina, quarter tones, super balls, and the mesmerizing power of Beethoven at the peak of his Middle Period. ‘Twas a total joy to present all of that to a young, enthusiastic audience on one of New York’s finest stages.
After a week of double-up lessons and listening to dozens of auditions back at Cornell, it was off to Japan I went with my Aizuri sisters to embark on our Grand Prix tour. From Takaoka to Kyushu, Kunisaki to Kumamoto, Osaka to Tottori, Hiroshima to Tsu and then Yokohama and Tokyo, it was a beautiful whirlwind. One of the most special memories I will carry with me was the outreach concert we gave at Shobara Junior High School in Hiroshima. The students, dressed so finely in their uniforms, sat with wonderment and great respect as we presented our program. Their questions were thoughtful, their responses were poignant, and the most beautiful moment came at the conclusion of our presentation when a young girl from the back of the auditorium came up to deliver a thank-you message — delivered first in Japanese and then in perfect English — so that Karen and I wouldn’t be left behind. It brought tears to all of our eyes.
The hospitality of all of the venues, the Japan Chamber Music Foundation and our two killer tour managers who were literally with us every step of the way – Takusan and Yanagisan – exceeded my wildest expectations of how a tour can be. The generosity and warmth we felt from the audiences, the fabulous food Japan has to offer, and the chance to live and breathe as a quartet 24/7 for nearly 3 weeks was a beautiful combination. Although the schedule was rather packed (with Japanese-style organization and precision, no less), we even had time to experience a few moments “off the clock.” As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words, so as always, I leave you here with a photo diary from the last 2 months.
On a personal note, the last few weeks have been difficult and mystifying in many ways for me; I’ve come to realize, more than ever, that sometimes there is no better way to overcome a troubled spirit than to lose yourself in great music. Happy Thanksgiving — signing off from Tokyo…
On this bizarrely warm day here at Cornell (the temperature on campus hit 90 degrees this afternoon!) I take a moment to reflect back on the last two months of music and life. At a time when our dear Mother Earth is bursting at the seams bringing so much devastation to our hemisphere, I find myself counting every blessing everyday. At a time when we are faced with such a barrage of hideous vitriol coming from our White House – albeit rarely shocking anymore – I find myself burrowing even more deeply into my craft. In this last several weeks, my emotional life has been sustained by family, friends and a lot of Brahms.
Below, a sea of faculty and students who gathered on Cornell’s Arts Quad for a rally in support of inclusive diversity earlier today:
When I last left off, I was about to welcome my parents to New York for a glorious 4 days of staycation. To celebrate the completion of my tenure file, we took long walks in Central Park, took a mini road trip to visit family Princeton, then to Greenwich Point Park in Connecticut, and then up to Tanglewood to see my kid bro and the BSO in action. I can’t think of a better way to spend a rare 4 days off =). I then headed back out to the Bay for my 17th year teaching at PACO – a magical place set in the forests of Santa Cruz where we immerse ourselves in the land of teaching and playing chamber music from dusk til dawn.
I touched down at JFK at nearly 1am only to be reminded that the following morning’s alarm would ring at 7am to call me down to 60 Centre Street…yes indeed, jury duty. By some stroke of luck, I only had to serve 1.5 days and was not called onto a case, and alas I am now in the clear until 2023 (phew!). After a quick trip up north to prune the garden, sweep the back patio and get a few estimates on driveway paving (it’s always something, right?), I hopped on a flight to Minnesota where I joined the NLCMI team for the 13th year. Another magical chamber music camp set up in the Boundary Waters, we begin and end the day with condcutorless chamber orchestra rehearsals with hours of Mendelssohn, Bartok, Schoenberg, Haydn, Grazyna Bacewicz, canoeing and s’mores in between.
To the Duluth airport I went to hop a flight or two to join The Knights for our annual performance at the Ravinia Festival. Joined by the incomparable Susan Graham, we presented a program of Adams, Mozart, and Canteloube. It was then O’Hare to Rome where I jumped on a few trains to begin a recital tour in Tuscany. The combination of being back amid the rolling hills of Val d’Orcia making music, drinking divine wines and eating mind-blowingly delicious food was totally sublime. Through programs of Janacek, Brahms, Ravel, Paganini and Elliott Carter, my pianists (Todd Crow and Pietro Bonfilio) and I danced our way into the halls of Paesaggi Musicali Toscani and Morellino Classica.
From Siena to Ithaca I went to start up the school year at Cornell. I welcomed my studio of fabulous students back to campus as we hit the ground running with studio meetings, lessons and coachings. Guest lectures in Elements of Music 1101 and Design & Environmental Analysis 1200 allowed me to meet an entirely new cross-section of students, something by which I am always so inspired. A return to my favorite thing about Cornell, Wednesday nights at Hans Bethe House, brought hugs, smiles, and so many wonderful friends and colleagues with whom to catch up.
After a quick 36-hour trip to LA for my beautiful cousin Yoonie’s wedding, I headed to Philly for a week to premiere Lembit Beecher’s haunting and brilliant chamber opera (written for the Aizuri Quartet and a small cast of singers), Sophia’s Forest.Set in the 1990s, the work tells the story of half-forgotten memories and tragedy in the wake of fleeing war-torn Serbo-Croatia; mechanized sound sculptures created by Lembit and a team of engineers from Drexel and Princeton created the soundscape of the haunting forest. It was an honor to bring this work to life.
Returning to Ithaca to catch one of my favorite satirist-comedians Trevor Noah – and accidentally meeting him in person (hashtag fangirl) – in a live standup show at Cornell was a total dream come true. And that brings us to the present…I head down to the City tomorrow to start the lead-up for the quartet’s upcoming residency at the MET Museum – Music and Mayhem on October 21st is up first, featuring quartets by Gubaidulina, Reich, and Beethoven!
And as always, I leave you with a photo diary below.
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 Forestwhich 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!
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)
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!
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.
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!
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…
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…
And finally, this post’s title video clip: “Love Trumps Hate:”
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!
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.
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:
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…
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: