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Archive for the ‘The Cast’ Category

Introducing Katy Ho!

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What’s your name?

My full name is Ieong Cheng Ho. “Ieong” is actually my mom’s family name and often people will misspelled it as “Leong” or “Jeong”. The word “Cheng” in Chinese means sunny or cheerful. My nickname is Katy Ho just to prevent further confusion of my name.

Where are you from?

I am from Macau, China. Macau was a former Portuguese colony until I was nine years old. (However, I do not speak Portuguese…) Macau is a now the Las Vegas of the East, which represents a mixture of Eastern and Western culture. I lived there for 17 years before I came to the states.

How did you come to the viola?

I started to play violin when I was six years old, my teacher in Macau is actually a viola player in the Macau Orchestra. So when I was around 11 years old, he asked me if I want to try learning viola that I could play as a violist in the student orchestra. Since then, I found myself falling in love with the deeper sound that the viola can produce.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I am currently a 4th year undergraduate student at Juilliard. My current teachers are Miss Heidi Castleman and Mr Misha Amory. I am very lucky to be a member in the ACHT viola studio.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

One of my favorite performances is actually by Chanyun Li, who often cited as “the youngest violinist in the world”. He performed in New York recently as a soloist playing the Chinese violin concerto “The Butterfly Lovers”. It is very special for me to hear traditional Chinese music in New York. I admire his freedom of playing music on the stage. It always reminds me of what true music performance is — to share your feelings that can move the audience.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

I would love to perform Harold in Italy by Berlioz. It is because it is such a great work not only a fusion of concerto and symphony, but also a chamber and symphonic music.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

If I could perform any piece, I actually want to perform “The Butterfly Lovers” on the viola. But technically, it is almost impossible. I would love to perform with the New York Philharmonics because more people will know about Chinese music after this.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

Oded Kishony made my viola in 1987, I was looking for a new viola last year and I tried many violas before I came up to this one. I like it very much because it can produce a resonance sound in the lower strings and a bright sound in the upper strings.

Do you have any secret skills?

My friends told me I can actually sleep with my eyes open! I am not so sure about it as I cannot check it by myself.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

If I am forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day, I will have plenty of sleep, try making a cake (as I am not so good at it), and enjoy some sushi!


Introducing Dana Hansen!

What’s your name?

My name is Dana Hansen.  The only interesting thing about my name is that my mother planned to name me Dana whether I was a boy or a girl.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It’s a beautiful place to grow up. I had a lot of freedom to roam around on my own that my own kids will never have. When I got to about seventh grade, my mom started driving me up to Boston on the weekends to take lessons and do youth orchestra. The youth orchestras in Boston are spectacular. I stayed on in Boston for college, did my master’s degree at Juilliard, spent a year with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, and then got my job with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2005. I got married in 2001 (early, by my generation’s standards) and had my three daughters in 2009, 2011, and 2012. They are called Phoebe, Susanna, and Madeline and they are all darling.

How did you come to the viola?

I did switch from violin.  I started violin when I was four, with the Suzuki method.  I also played piano very seriously through the end of high school.  When I was a sophomore in high school, my youth orchestra in Boston suffered a sudden shortage of violists, and I was recruited by my conductor, David Commanday, to switch.  I liked the viola right away.  I especially remember loving the violists when I was at the summer music camp Kinhaven, and feeling like viola was really the right instrument for me, even more than piano, which I also really loved.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I got my MM from Juilliard in 2003.  I almost went to Juilliard for my undergraduate studies, but decided to go to Harvard instead.  For three of the years I was in college, though, I studied with Heidi at Aspen.  That was a big part of my decision to go to Harvard–I figured I could at least study with Heidi and be part of her studio in the summer.  I’m really glad that I had some of both the college and conservatory experience.  I definitely feel like I did need the time in graduate school to move forward with a career in music.  I loved being at Juilliard and I try to go back and visit whenever I am in New York.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

My favorite performance I played was when the LA Philharmonic did Tristan and Isolde with a video by Bill Viola and a partial staging.  Our then music director Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted.  It was a stunning production, the singers were amazing, and Esa-Pekka was totally in his element.   A fun and challenging viola part too!

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

Walton concerto with orchestra.  I’ve never played a viola concerto with an orchestra.  I’ve spent so much time with it, it would be nice to play it the way it’s actually meant to be played!

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

I wish I could still play the piano well, and the repertoire I wish I could play is endless.   Bach and Ravel in particular, and I also would like to play sonatas with my string-playing friends!  Someday when my kids are older I want to take piano lessons again.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

Otto Erdesz.  My parents bought it for me in high school, I’ve been playing it since then.  It’s a beautiful sounding instrument and I’m lucky to have found it so early in life.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

Unfortunately these days with my three daughters, days when I don’t practice are all too common.  Those days I am doing a lot of driving my four year-old to her violin lessons, hanging out at the playground, feeding babies, and so on.  But if I could do whatever I wanted for a day, I would sleep in, read some of a novel, take a yoga class or go for a hike, and host a dinner party.

 


Introducing David Lau!

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What’s your name?

David Thomas Lau

Where are you from?

I am from Oregon. I grew up on a hazelnut farm surrounded by forests about 40 minutes away from the Pacific ocean. Spent a year living at Interlochen for high School before moving to NYC to study at Juilliard afterwhich I moved to the small Hanseatic town of Lübeck, Germany near Hamburg. Three years ago I moved to Leipzig where I currently reside.

How did you come to the viola?

I had always wanted to play the violin since as long as I can remember, but as my parents had no musical connections and we lived in the middle of nowhere I just had to wait until an oppurtunity presented itself. When I was 11 I learned that the next school district over had a strings program and because our farm had property in both districts I told my parents I was switching schools to learn the violin. On the first day of class we got to try all the different string instruments. After trying bass and the Cello I tried the viola, the teacher told me I had nice sound on it so I took the viola. What really happened was that she needed violas in the orchestra and I pretty much thought it was the same thing.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I studied at Juilliard with Heidi and Hsin-Yun for my Bachelors 2002-2006.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

Last year I played all the Beethoven symphonies over five days in the Musikverein in Vienna with the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Before then I had only played two of them and had never played in Vienna before. It was a great experience.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

Schnittke Viola Concerto. I love it! Always have always will.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

Ravel Tzigane or sing the soprano part in the last movement of Mahler 4.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

Daniel Mason from Chicago. I got it when I was 14 from the violin shop I worked weekends at in Portland. He said I needed something bigger and it was cheap so I took it. We tweeked it in the shop on weekends and now it sounds fantastic.

Do you have any secret skills?

Getting pretty good these days at the singing saw and overtone singing.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

Head to Berlin and go dancing


Introducing Vicki Powell!

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What’s your name?

My name is Vicki Powell. I also go by Ping (my Chinese name) which when combined with my twin sister’s name, An, is [Ping-An] Peace.

Where are you from?

I was born in Chicago, but grew up in the beautiful city of Madison, WI, the breeding ground of many wonderful violists. There must be something in the water…

How did you come to the viola?

I started playing the violin when I was four years old. I later joined the Eleve Artet string quartet, which consisted of three violinists and one cellist. We took turns playing the viola part for several years, but eventually realized how silly and time-consuming it was to bring three violins and three violas on stage. I volunteered to be the permanent quartet violist, and began studying with Sally Chisholm, violist of the Pro Arte Quartet. I credit my passion for [chamber] music and my entire career as a violist to the ten incredible years I spent with that quartet.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I was a student at Juilliard from 2010-2012, where I studied with Misha Amory. I am currently living with Molly Carr, and we are embarking on the exciting journey of playing through all of the etude books in our apartment. I suppose that means I am still a student of Juilliard in some capacity.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

I probably shouldn’t be saying this on a blog heavily dominated by Juilliard folk, but my most memorable performance was playing Prokofiev Symphony No. 5 with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Otto Werner Mueller. I have so much respect for Maestro Mueller, and he knew exactly how to mold the Curtis Symphony into the exhilarating creature that it is.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

Schumann’s Marchenbilder was the first piece I ever played for viola, and I will always hold it most dear to my heart. There is something so magnificent about how Schumann was able to capture such fanciful beauty, melancholy, and brilliance in four short movements. The last movement in particular conveys, through sheer simplicity, an unbelievable depth of sadness with a glimmer hope, which never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

I want to play Mahler 5. Over and over and over and over again.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

My viola was made by Stefan Valcuha, and was completed in July of 2012. Stefan knew I had been looking for a small but powerful viola, and took inspiration from a Gofriller with those very characteristics. He brought my baby out to me while I was in Marlboro, a week after it was strung up. It was love at first sight, and I will forever be thankful for the Valcuha genius!

Do you have any secret skills?

It’s not such a secret, nor is it a particularly desirable skill, but apparently I’m pretty good at terrifying people with my “Vicki stare”. I apologize to anyone that has crossed paths with my gaze… I’m currently working on the “Vicki smile”

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

Laze about in the sun. And eat good food.

Do you have a website?

http://vickipowell.instantencore.com/web/home.aspx


Introducing Kathryn Steely!

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What’s your name?

My name is Kathryn Steely – I sometimes go by my full name Kathryn Schmidt Steely.

Where are you from?

I grew up in a small town in central Kansas and am the first professional musician in my music-loving family.

How did you come to the viola?

I admit – I didn’t start on the viola, but I got there as quickly as I could!  I started playing violin in third grade.  I remember walking to school one day and deciding, along with two of my friends, that we would play the violin in school, just to be different since all of our other friends wanted to play the flute.  I played violin from that point on, including playing in the youth orchestras for six years in Wichita,  about 30 minutes away.  I had another good friend who happened to play the viola and we would switch now and then to try out our solo pieces on the other’s instrument. She was fascinated by the quickness and higher, thinner sound of the violin and I absolutely loved the richness of the lower voice when playing her viola.  I always thought that the violin concertos I was playing sounded much better on viola!  I started taking lessons on viola once I started my undergrad degree and won a position with a regional orchestra on viola during my sophomore year.  That was pretty much it.  I loved being in the center of the harmony, conversing between upper and lower parts, and really enjoyed exploring sound from the middle as opposed to the top down. I sold my violin at that point and never looked back!

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I have never been a Juilliard student but have had a long relationship with Heidi Castleman.  I studied with Heidi at the Cleveland Institute of Music and was able to do a wonderful pedagogy independent study with her during that time, something that has shaped my teaching in profound ways ever since.  I am honored the ACHT studio has invited me to participate in the studio blog!  I keep myself busy as the viola professor at Baylor University and will become president of the American Viola Society in 2014.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

While a number of favorite performances come to mind, the all-time favorite occurred in a somewhat unusual situation.  It happened in the context of a faculty search for a collaborative piano faculty member. I was playing 2nd movement of Franck Sonata (on viola, of course…) and Clarke Morpheus along with one of the candidates.  We had just enough time to run the movements prior to the interview recital, and when we went on stage, everything clicked in a very special and surprising way, especially because we did not know each other at all. Even though this performance was for very few people, I have never been more “in the zone” or had better communication with a collaborative partner.  We both had utter and complete freedom of flexibility and nuance.  It was a truly beautiful musical conversation!

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

I love chamber music and that is very much my focus at present.  Recently I have played a fair amount of flute, viola, harp repertoire and I would love to return to the Bax Elegaic Trio with my current group. I have not played late Beethoven quartets in a long time though and so that is on my to do list as well.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

I have been thinking about playing the Bach 2nd Partita.  The Chaconne in particular is such a profound and moving work and, since the instrument I am currently playing on has a shorter string length, playing this movement is now possible whereas with my previous instrument, my hand was just not large enough to accommodate some of those chords elegantly.  I suppose this is another case in which violin repertoire just sounds better to me on the viola!

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

I am currently playing on a viola made by Alan and Sarah Balmforth which I have had since 2009.  The instrument has sloping shoulders; making high positions easily accessible.  It also has relatively wide lower bouts and I have been really happy with the C string.  It has been fun to get to know this instrument over the past few years and I think we are growing well together as team.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

Maybe spend time reworking my herb garden layout?  Learn to make really good curry flavored ganache for chocolate truffles?

 


Introducing Paul Hindemith!

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What’s your name?

Paul Hindemith.

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Hanau, Germany, and spent a lot of my time in New Haven, Connecticut.

How did you come to the viola?

Initially I played the violin, but after I conquered that around the age of 18, I switched to the viola.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I was part of the first year of the ACHT studio.  I’d like to thank Ms. Castleman for her advice on bow holds, Mr. Amory for his help with intonation, Ms. Huang for her thoughts about interpretation of contemporary works, and Mr. Tenenbom for his insights on practicing and development of one’s art over time.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

Premiering Bill Walton’s Concerto was a good time.  Not so sure what’s up with that Tertis guy…

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

Why would I do that?!

Do you have any secret skills?

I love knitting.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

I’d take a stroll with my wife Gertrud.


Introducing Benjamin Zannoni!

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What’s your name?

Benjamin Zannoni, but people just call me Ben.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Houston, and primarily grew up in Houston. But, I did live in Downingtown Pennsylvania for a few years when I was in elementary school, before going right back to Houston.

How did you come to the viola?

In 6th grade my violin teacher, Judy Offman, recommended I learn how to play the viola. This may have been due to my abnormal height for a 6th grader, but I always remember her having such a passion for the viola and for her students to learn how to play the viola along with the violin. It was not until my first youth symphony rehearsal, however, where I really made the switch into becoming a violist. Upon arriving at the rehearsal I found myself seated in the last chair of the second violins, who at first glance looked like a horde of deranged monkeys flailing about. As I started to unpack a lady stood up on the podium and yelled “Do any of the violinist know how to play viola? If, so we would be happy to have you switch!” I jumped up at the first thought of getting out of the chaos, and remember sitting down the first stand of violist, where I played the rest of the rehearsal on my brand new viola that I had no idea how to read the music for. From then on, since I had decided to play the viola in orchestra I began to love the sound and the people that played the instrument.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I’m 2nd year Undergrad, and I study with Heidi Castleman and Robert Vernon.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

Liebermann Sonata

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

I can’t really choose one piece, but I really wish I could play jazz piano.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

Paul Knorr from 1939, I bought it in the summer of 2011.

 


Introducing Andrew Gonzalez!

What’s your name?

Andrew Joseph Gonzalez.

Where are you from?

I born in Jacksonville Florida but raised in Chesapeake Virginia.

How did you come to the viola?

I started viola in my Fifth Grade string orchestra. I didn’t want to play cello because I knew that it was too big to fit on a school bus everyday and I didn’t want to play Violin because I older brother played violin before me and he seemed to hate so for some reason I thought I wouldn’t like it either.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I am a 3rd year at the Juilliard school.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

One of my favorite performances was playing Brahms 4 with Seymon Bychkov conducting.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

I would love to play Schumann Adagio and Allegro; Probably one of my favorite chamber pieces ever written.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

I would love to play Beethoven Violin concerto.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

My Viola was made in 1930 by Frederick Haenel. It’s Modeled after a Gasparo da Salo.

Do you have any secret skills?

I’m actually quite a good Whistler.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

I would probably just sleep all day.

 


Introducing Katie Carrington!

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What’s your name?

I go by Katie Carrington.  My full name is Kathleen Riley Magill Carrington, and is a bit much.  I think I have almost every UK island represented, which is impressive, as I’ve never been to the UK.

Where are you from?

I was born in a suburb of Chicago.  I lived for two years in Germany in a suburb of a suburb of Hamburg.  My dad is a physicist and was working at a lab over there.  I’m still not entirely clear why, but instead of attending the international school, I went to first and second grade at the local elementary school, where everything was in German.  I picked up the language fairly quickly, which led to some weird encounters where people thought I was a native while my parents were clearly foreigners.

How did you come to the viola?

I started on the viola in fourth grade because I thought the violin was just way too high pitched (if I’m being honest, I still do).  I only took instrument study through the public school until I was 16, then somehow found my way to a great teacher and practiced up a storm.  I was a biology major for one year at Illinois Wesleyan University before I dropped out, took a year off to practice, and then started at Juilliard.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

I studied with Heidi Castleman and Hsin-Yun Huang at Juilliard from 2005-2009.  Still one of my best decisions ever.

Tell us about one of your favorite performances?

This past summer I played in Chicago for my former teacher Michael Hining’s 25 teaching anniversary.  A close friend of his and principal violist of the Lyric Opera in Chicago, Keith Conant, had passed away suddenly the year before.  Keith was also a big support to me when I was just starting to think I’d like to play the viola for a career.  The concert featured Mr. Hining’s chamber orchestra, the Windy City String Ensemble,  playing the Telemann Viola Concerto with a different soloist for each movement.  I played the final movement in Keith’s memorial.  This movement had additional meaning for me as I played it with the WCSE in Carnegie Hall in 2003.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

I’d love to do the Ligeti Sonata, especially the last movement!

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

I not so secretly want to learn to play the bagpipes.  My dark side just likes the idea that people are forced to listen to you, even from miles away.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

My instrument is a 2007 viola by Nathaniel Rowan.  Heidi introduced me to Nathaniel my last year at Juilliard.  I actually have his first viola!  I’ve been really happy with it and with how the sound is developing.  It’s rather small and very easy to play and has a lot of personality.  My husband is actually commissioning a viola from Nathaniel right now because he’s jealous!

Do you have any secret skills?

I realized a few years ago that my only real skill was playing viola and that wouldn’t make me very useful if I ended up stranded on an island.  So, I taught myself to sew.  I’ve made lots of stuff, although I always end up with more patterns and fabric than I could possibly use.  Baking helps me deal with life, as I have never found a better therapist than carbohydrates.  I also used to ride horses (dressage) a lot and worked on a horse farm.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

This won’t be very inspiring, but I’d sleep in, spend lots of time harassing my dog and cat, drink coffee slowly and take forever to get dressed, and, since I live in New Orleans, go out to eat for every meal.

Do you have a website?

The website for the GNO Suzuki Forum is gnosuzukiforum.com.


Introducing Jenni Seo!

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What’s your name?

Jenni Seo

Where are you from?

I was born in South Korea, but my family moved to San Diego when I was little.

How did you come to the viola?

I always loved the deep mellow sound of the viola, so I decided to switch from violin. Also, I think viola fits my personality better than violin.

Are you a Juilliard student?  Were you?  Or do you now work as part of the studio?

Yes. I am a second year student at Juilliard.

If you could perform any viola piece, what would it be?

If I could perform any viola piece, I would definitely be Reve D’enfant by ysaye. I feel like I could express myself so much through this piece and it’s absolutely a beautiful piece. Another one is schumann piano quartet op. 47, the slow movement. Whenever I feel a little upset or down, I listen to this movement. It instantly makes me feel better and puts me in a good mood. I always wait for the viola solo towards the end.. It’s the best thing in the world.

If you could play any non-viola piece, what would it be?

I want to conduct the Brahms symphony No. 2.

Who made your viola and how did you get to be the one playing it?

My viola was made by Giulio Cesare Gigli in 1706. It is on a loan to me from the instrument collection at The Juilliard school.

You are forced by the United States Government to not practice for a day.  What do you do with yourself?

I would thank the Government and watch the simpsons all day!!