Prior to the pandemic world and my new post-Lark Quartet musical life, I was juggling performing chamber music with new colleagues in NYC, teaching and heading up the chamber music program at SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Music, co-directing Kinhaven, and enjoying raising two young human beings with my husband.
During my seventeen years in the Lark Quartet, I was lucky enough to be a part of creating many commissioning projects by several of America’s most prized composers. This year brought something new! One of my life’s greatest honors is to have received my first commission for solo violin by John Harbison, entitled “DEBut”. It is a beautiful piece that is lyrical and clever.
This past January, I received another commission written for violin and piano entitled “Fantasia on Beethoven’s Spring Sonata” by Bruce Adolphe. Before writing this piece, Bruce was kind enough to ask me what I was currently performing. My answer to him was, “Beethoven!” — I was preparing about 15 different chamber works because his 250th birthday! Both of these commissions were made possible by a SUNY Purchase Faculty Research Grant. I look forward to recording this music soon!
As Assistant Professor of Violin and Head of Chamber Music at SUNY Purchase, I continue to teach and coach young musicians. The need to quickly adapt our instruction of chamber music, which I define as a living-breathing-feeling-music -with-one-another experience, into a remote model, posed quite a challenge for me. I became quite involved in how to create a curriculum that maintained at it’s core the principals of this performance art. By semester’s end, I was relieved to hear from
the students themselves that score study, listening analysis, playing for one another, all brought them to a better place of understanding. It provided a sincere connection to the music they were studying and to one another.
This past week, I have been lucky enough to connect to many of my esteemed colleagues around the country in order to gather stories of “what actually worked” in their remote chamber music curriculum. The fact that I have had time to chat with these great artists and pedagogues to dig deep into what it means to teach and coach chamber music has been invaluable. I recognize that these conversations would probably not have happened had it not been for this crisis.
I have been lucky enough to lead orchestras around this country. My position of Concertmaster of the Brooklyn Philharmonic until 2013 was a highlight. For the past three seasons, I have served as the Concertmaster for the Stamford Symphony. Many of my close Brooklyn Phil colleagues are members of the Stamford Symphony. This orchestra is comprised of NYC musicians, a stellar administration, and gracious board members. Led by CEO, Russell Jones, the SSO figures out a way to pay the orchestra members a respectable amount of lost wages from the canceled concerts in March and April. This says so much about this organization. I respect and admire my excellent colleagues and am excited for the recent hire of our new Music Director, Michael Stern.
Kinhaven continues to be my third child. It has always existed as a beacon for the end of my demanding season. For the past ten years, my husband and I have led this school as Co-Executive Directors, overseeing five sessions that span from late May through August. As we are navigating through what it would require to run a safe 2020 Senior and Junior sessions, we are incredibly grateful for the enormous help we continue to receive from our Kinhaven Task Force. This informed group includes doctors, board members, faculty, parents, camp directors, testing company executives, and Vermont healthcare professionals. We are consumed by the decision to run or not every day — we make our final decision by June 1st.
I have always been an optimist, so I sign off by expressing what I know we all wish for which is a rich artistic life on the other side of this pandemic. For now, I will keep practicing, teaching, and taking care of myself and my family. I send my wishes of good health out to all of you!