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

Stravinsky, Stockhausen, State College

Just began a 3-part tour of Stravinsky’s “L’histoire du soldat” and a fabulous septet (written for the same instrumentation) by Stockhausen, arranged by Caroline Shaw.  After some lecture/demonstrations at several of Penn State’s classes, we performed on their Classical Coffeehouse and Performing Arts Series. Getting to know these iconic composers and these works in a new way is deeply inspiring (and sweat-inducing)…now it’s off to Washington D.C. to take the program to Dumbarton Oaks…hopefully the hurricane won’t sweep us away =)

Deep in rehearsal conversations @ Penn State
Deep in rehearsal conversations @ Penn State
It's devil time...Stravinsky "L'histoire"-style
It’s devil time…Stravinsky “L’histoire”-style

Rite of Spring Dance Party, Glow Sticks and All…

I experienced one of the craziest and memorable nights last weekend — a benefit for Musicambia (a non-profit that brings music to U.S. prisons) — that was also a club-style dance party with a live band playing Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”  Danced by GroupMuse members who were perplexingly familiar with the score, the hot and humid evening at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple gave way to savage, visceral, and glow-necklace-laden dancers making their way through this iconic piece of music.  The deafening screams of appreciation transitioned into audience members lying amidst the orchestra for an encore of Schoenberg’s “Farben” from his “Five Pieces for Orchestra.”  The sacrificial lamb survived…this time.

Pre-Show @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple
Pre-Show @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple
GroupMuse on the frontline
GroupMuse on the frontline
The audience then came to join us, literally sitting and lying at our feet onstage, for the encore...
The audience then came to join us, literally sitting and lying at our feet onstage, for the encore…

 

Dog Days 2015 – A Recap

As I opened my office door at Cornell for the first time this year to welcome the Class of 2019 (yes, the incoming college freshman class was born in 1998…yowza), I couldn’t help but pause and look back at the wonderfully wall-to-wall summer of music making I just finished. Here are some highlights…

The summer began with a Knights tour of Germany and Austria (which concluded with a performance in the incomparable Musikverein), and unexpectedly continued onto Italy where I joined Brooklyn Rider and percussionist Ian Rosenbaum for an exhilarating concert at the American Academy in Rome featuring quartets by Andy Akiho and Paula Matthesun…

Gearing up for a concert at the Musikverein
Pre-concert @ the Musikverein, Vienna
Rome, from the balcony at the American Academy in Italy
Rome, from the balcony at the American Academy in Italy
La cisterna - an underground cistern that was the inspiration for Paula Matthesun's quartet
An underground cistern that was the inspiration for Paula’s 4tet…
Post-quartet concert in Rome with Brooklyn Rider + AK
Post-quartet concert in Rome with Brooklyn Rider + AK in the gorgeous lemon garden

June brought our final concert of the 2015-2016 season with the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota featuring music by Paul Schoenfield, then the glory of Arvo Pärt’s double violin concerto, “Tabula Rasa” (which I had the pleasure of learning alongside the fabulous Tessa Lark), and a visit from my incredible parents, Ellen and Young-Nam (we had a lovely evening with two of my favorite ladies, Ieva and Alma, and even found time for a beach day!)…

Beach Day @ the beautiful Greenwich Point Park, CT
Beach Day @ the beautiful Greenwich Point Park in Greenwich, CT
Stopping for dinner with the fam to bid farewell to the lovely Ieva & Alma
Dinner with the fam to bid farewell to the lovely Ieva & Alma

July was packed with another Knights tour to the Ravinia Festival, serving on the faculty (for the first time – it was divine!) at the Crowden Music Center’s Summer Chamber Music Institute in Berkeley, CA (where I even had a bit of time to catch up with old friends and family), album editing (albeit at a glacial pace), a little “Spanish immersion” as The Knights explored a program of Latin music, and a couple of great birthday hangs…

Ladies' day out - a sushi lunch to celebrate mama's & Auntie Susan's birthdays!
Ladies’ day out – a sushi lunch to celebrate Mama Kim & Auntie Susan’s birthdays!
Birthday balloons @ Peter Lugar for Shane & Kaoru's birthdays!
Birthday balloons @ Peter Lugar for Shane & Kaoru’s birthdays!
Post-Peter Lugar decompression with the adorable Shinobu...
Post-Peter Lugar digestion & decompression with the adorable Shinobu…
A day in LA with my fabulous cousin Eugene and his lovely wife Liberty
An unexpected day in LA with my fabulous cousin Eugene and his lovely wife Liberty
My super cute and crazy talented Dvorak F minor trio group
My super cute and crazy talented Dvorak trio group @ Crowden
A little Mozart K. 174 is always a beautiful thing
A little Mozart K. 174 is always a beautiful thing – post-concert @ Crowden
An East Bay lunch break with my dear friend Christina's little ones...
An East Bay lunch break with my dear friend Christina’s little ones, Carsten & Sammy

August began with one of my favorite weeks of the year, PACO Camp! It’s an intensive chamber music festival out in the Redwood Forest in California where talented and dedicated Bay Area students come together to eat, sleep, and breathe quartets. With a few days off in-between to get some record editing done, it concluded with 8 special days up in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota for the Northern Lights Chamber Music Institute, where I played, coached, and made my “debut” as a “percussionist” playing a little cajon (whoa, boy) with the kids on Colin Jacobsen and Siamak Aghei’s “Ascending Bird”….

Coaching Haydn's "Emperor" quartet outside under the magnificent Redwoods
Coaching Haydn’s “Emperor” quartet outside under the magnificent Redwoods
Hand-crafted and personalized PACO hoodies made with love by the Chin girls
Hand-crafted and personalized PACO hoodies made with love by Tessera & Delenn
Post-concert with my Haydn "Emperor" crew
Post-concert with my Haydn “Emperor” crew

I said goodbye to summer with Labor Day weekend 2015 spent with two very dear friends, Larry and Trudy Rankin in Lakeland, FL; with an evening at the sea and a house concert to honor our beloved Corry Rankin, a classmate of mine who passed away in 2002, it was a beautifully powerful time of remembrance and fellowship.  I made my way back to Ithaca to finalize the details of having 71 violinists (!) on campus this year and hit the ground running with my fabulous new studio of fiddlers and chamber ensembles…

The healing waters of the sea and a gorgeous sunset in Sarasota, FL
The healing waters of the sea and a gorgeous sunset in Sarasota, FL
With Larry Rankin, Corry's father
With Larry Rankin, Corry’s father
With Trudy Rankin, Corry's mother
With Trudy Rankin, Corry’s mother

And here we go, off to the races for Fall 2015!

Love from 149th Street…

Ariana