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My Groupmuse No. 2 – Mozart and Moving On

www.groupmuse.com

Mozart is a bit like the baseline for any good musician. Easy to listen to and notoriously hard to play. We are going back to what we love and are trained to play so all our further repertoire and knowledge comes from wrestling with Wolfgang A. What better way to prepare for a beginning of live performances and a hopeful return to normal than by doing a Master Cleanse?

My good friends Jesse Mills, Grammy-nominated violinist, Joel Noyes of the Metropolitan Opera, and myself are playing Mozart’s beautiful and part cheeky, part serious Divertimento for String Trio from 1788. That’s all. 45 minutes of bliss with our utter commitment and love for this music. “The end is the beginning, and the beginning is perfection.”

We’re streaming this performance live from Reed Yeboah Fine Violins in New York City, and it is being hosted by Groupmuse.

To watch the recital, click here.

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Groupmuse in New York, or how to learn a mountain of notes in a few weeks and enjoy it…

I’m excited to present to you an intriguing and varied repertoire, of new music from the Canadian composer Ana Sokolovic and the Cuban guitar virtuoso and composer Leo Brouwer, whose solo viola sonata gets its world premiere here! This on the platform known as Groupmuse, a social network for musicians which presents classical concerts in informal setting, and in these pandemic times, online.

Works by Shostakovich (music from the motion picture “The Gadfly“) and Prokofiev (from his ballet “Romeo and Juliet”), adapted for viola and piano, conclude the program. I am playing with the terrific pianist Miki Aoki.

Ana is a longtime friend who taught me harmony and counterpoint in high school back in Serbia, so we go way back, and she is now one of Canada’s most distinguished composers. I grew up listening to Leo Brouwer’s music, so his works and his guitar playing (my brother studied classical guitar when I was little) are close to my heart.

I wish to thank the team at Tarisio Fine Instruments in New York for letting us use their performance space for rehearsals and the livestream. Absolutely indispensable in Covid times, when nearly all concert venues are closed.

To watch the video of the livestream, click here!

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A beloved colleague passes away. Still inconceivable that this could happen

I dreamt about Vinny, a long-time member of the Met’s viola section who passed away from coronavirus on April 4, last night. Many a rehearsal morning, I’d see him from a distance as we approached the Met’s Stage Door from opposite directions and wave at each other. He’d wear a parka and always have a hoodie on his head in cold weather. That heavy hoodie made him look like a little boy, which made it even easier to tell him apart. It’s funny how unique people’s gaits are, they’re like signatures. His walk was the first thing I saw in the dream and I immediately knew it was him. He was there wearing his hoodie and walking toward the Stage Door ahead of me. I yelled to say hello, I wanted to ask how he was, how come he was here with us again, but the words got stuck in my throat and all I could let out was a groan. He just smiled, waved as if nothing had happened, and kept walking. We were back at work, everything was good, you know? Sadly, we’ll have to wait to see each other again, a long while. I’ll miss you Vinny, you were truly legit.

We recorded this for the Met’s Gala Concert a few weeks after his passing. My fellow violists and I agreed on this piece, I did an arrangement of this aria for viola ensemble, our Music Director provided a track with conducting and Joyce Di Donato’s singing was added last. All we had to record our separate tracks at home was Yannick’s motions! It was not easy but here it is. Our hearts are all in this. I cannot watch this without tearing up.

 

Talking to Dr Renée-Paule Gauthier on her podcast

I have known Renée-Paule Gauthier since we were freshmen in college, first-year violin students at Université de Montréal years ago. Renée-Paule went on to have a successful career as a violinist and teacher, performance coach, writer and clinician. We are both passionate about refining ways to practice mindfully and perform optimally, without hangups getting in the way. I have been listening to her Mind Over Finger Podcast for years and was especially honored when she asked me to be a guest on it.

We had a powerful and honest conversation on mindsets and how they can change your life, how focusing on your musical voice away from perfection in execution and validation can transform your relationship with practicing, enrich your playing, and affect the trajectory of your career. You may listen to our talk here, as well as on all major podcast platforms!

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I’ve joined the Larsen Strings family of Artists

www.larsenstrings.com

The type of strings one uses can do a lot to enhance the sound and feel of one’s instrument. There are only a few major manufacturers in this rarefied world and their products are a big source of fascination (and strong partisanship) for us players.

I use Larsen Virtuoso® strings, which have graced my Joseph Curtin viola in all my performances. Their projection, rich timbre, great flexibility and clarity are truly wonderful. I was thus especially delighted to join the Larsen Strings family as one of their Artists, alongside Renaud Capuçon, Raphael Wallfisch, Alina Pogostkina and others. I’ve gotten to know Marius, Ole and others from the Larsen team and I love their approach to sound and craftsmanship. Here’s to playing on Larsens for years to come!

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Do check out this short video made for the 25th anniversary of Larsen Strings here.

Teaching at Music & More SummerFest in August 2019

www.musicandmoresummerfest.com

I’ve joined the viola faculty at Music & More SummerFest, now in its second year and located in Trebinje, some 19 miles (30 km) from Dubrovnik. When pianist Tatjana Rankovich asked me to join and described the electric atmosphere the festival had created in and around Trebinje just in its first year, with hundreds of people attending its concerts already, it was impossible to say no.

Music & More SummerFest (MMSF) provides an intensive artistic program spanning twelve days of performing, studying, networking, and experiencing the vast cultural heritage of Trebinje. The interdisciplinary program will include individual lessons; master-classes; lectures and presentations; and solo, chamber and string orchestra performances.

I’m really looking forward to teaching at MMSF! The dates are August 2 to 14, 2019. My viola studio is nearly full, but I would take more students, upon further consideration. If interested, contact me here.

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