I’ve joined the viola faculty at Mannes, one of America’s most prestigious conservatories. Having taught a masterclass there in November 2018, I am thrilled to say that I was asked to start teaching viola there shortly thereafter. So here we are, it’s now public. I’ll be honest, this is something I had wanted for a while, and when I heard the news, I almost teared up.
I am now officially on the roster and I listened to entrance auditions last week. I’ve always wanted an opportunity to dedicate myself to teaching and to build my own studio. Teaching is hard, I have no illusions about just how much work it is to find an optimal way to reach a student and to help them find their way. But I am cherishing this opportunity and cannot wait to get started.
I taught a very fun viola masterclass at the Belgrade Academy of Music (otherwise known as Fakultet muzičke umetnosti, literally: Faculty of Musical Arts) on February 9th. I studied here from the age of 16 to 18 and it was a surreal time in my life, one of great learning and great uncertainty. The former Yugoslavia was falling apart and the civil war was approaching. I was in a prestigious studio of Dejan Mihailović, working hard and growing in a uniquely inspiring and supportive environment, the one that gave Nemanja Radulović and other talented Serbian violinists to the world. The contrast between my outer and inner worlds was jarring, to say the least.
And there I was, many years later. It was nice to come back and give back. And thanks to the viola faculty Nemanja Marjanović and Dejan Mlađenović for having me!
The good people at the American Viola Society honored me with a request to be one of their six Artists-in-Residence for 2019. I eagerly accepted and published a bunch of viola-related posts on their Facebook page in January and February. I made videos on a range of topics – from how to practice scales to center oneself to the performance-related books which changed my life, and so on. It was fun, although making videos on one’s smartphone and having to practice speaking clearly wasn’t! But it was great practice for me, as I’m infamous for speaking too fast. Seriously, I relished this opportunity to reach more violists in the USA and worldwide, and propagate some helpful ideas on auditions, practicing and the like.
All the videos are also available on my YouTube page.
I’ve been invited to teach a viola masterclass at the Mannes College The New School for Music on November 6! Mannes is a school I have a long association with, as I have taught a number of orchestra sectionals and adjudicated competitions there. This, however, is the first time I’ll get to teach there in this format, not to mention checking out their awesome new digs, as Mannes moved to Greenwich Village from its longtime Upper West Side home a few years back.
I am to teach three viola students, who will be performing works by York Bowen, Krzysztof Penderecki, and others. November 6, 2018, 4-6pm. The address is 55 West 13th St. Come to hear us and say hello!
I’m excited to announce that I won the position of Principal Viola of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The audition was held in May 2018.
There were over 50 candidates, including members of the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Berlin Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Philharmonic and others. We were all heard in a completely “blind” audition, everyone played behind a screen and utmost care was taken to be as fair as possible. Personally, I am hardly delighted to have “beaten” anyone else, because this is not what the aforementioned day, and the process that preceded it, meant to me.
I had been playing in the Met for 12 years as Assistant Principal and had witnessed seasons of great success, as well as seasons of relative gloom and weakened morale. My sentiments followed a similar pattern. There were feelings of pressure I had to overcome in order to get to a point where I could deliver my optimal performance at the exact moment when it mattered the most. While it might seem that moving to a seat only a few feet away should be easier for someone like me, nothing could be further from the truth. I plan on writing about this in detail in a future blog post.
I have always loved the MET Orchestra, and the people in it remain some of the most dedicated, serious and inspiring musicians I have ever known, not to mention great human beings. It is my promise that I will help usher a new era of prosperity and artistic growth, at what is proving to be a pivotal moment in the company’s history. And last but not least, I will help the Met’s viola section, who are like family to me, enter a new and very different period, the one we all wanted for so long.
Thank you to all of you who have written or called about this. Couldn’t have done it without loved ones standing by me.
It is always a pleasure when someone other than your immediate family members love and appreciate the art you create. All jokes aside, I was very honored to receive accolades from The Strad Magazine, the UK-based monthly classical music magazine about string instruments, in their October 2017 issue. My album Sonata-Song received a glowing review, described as a “vivid, varied recital”, with the title piece by Aram Khatchaturian receiving a “definitive performance”. The reviewer has “nothing but praise for [the] tonally most alluring renditions of the pieces” and… so I don’t have to blush retelling these quotes, please read the rest here. And get yourself a copy!