Introducing Isaiah Chapman

IMG_0588What is your name?

Isaiah Chapman

Where are you from?

Amarillo, TX

How are you connected to the UNT Viola Studio?

5th year Undergraduate; Triple Major: Viola Performance, Music Education & Music Theory; 2017

Did you choose the viola, or did the viola choose you?

I wanted to play double bass, but my elementary school teacher had a way of choosing an instrument for people. Due to me being one of the shorter students at the time, my teacher said I would have to choose either violin, viola or cello. Of course, everyone wanted to play violin, so that was out; I didn’t want to sit down all the time, so cello was eliminated; consequently, viola was the only one left, so I chose it. Incidentally, I think my teacher would let me play double bass now (since I’m 6′ 3″), but I have grown to love viola eternally!

Tell us about your viola! Who made it? How did you come to play this instrument? Does it have a name?

My viola is new to me; but it is a 1999 Damon Gray viola. It’s 17 5/16″, and has a tone out of this world! This past summer, I was in search for a new viola. Through David Brewer’s Violin Shop, I came across this instrument. Ever since I started playing viola, I heard about the giant violas of the past. I knew I wanted one, so the quest started and now I’ve got my big viola!

Who is your favorite violist? (To listen to or as a mentor)

By far, Tabea Zimmerman is my biggest inspiration. I came across her Penderecki Viola Concerto recording about 8 years ago, and I immediately fell in love with her tone and musicianship. Other favorites of mine would be Nobuko Imai, Kim Kashkashian, and Florian Deuter (baroque viola).

If you could only play the works of one composer for the rest of your life, who would you choose and why?

Well, I would probably choose Beethoven or J.S. Bach. For Beethoven, I feel as if Beethoven complements my life musically and philosophically. His three periods seem to define him well, but all of his styles are developing from the beginning. For me, I see late-Beethoven in his early period more than I see his early style in his late. The potential was there from the very beginning, and I will always respect that. Considering Bach, I started on piano at 4 years old, and Bach has been the composer that has fulfilled my questions about music in regard to life, yet, has provided me with the most confusion. He unequivocally supplies understanding and befuddlement.

What is your favorite piece to play?

I simply can not say I have a favorite piece, but I can say that all musics are my favorite things to play!

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

I would want to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major. The musical language used in this piece provides serenity that hardly any other piece I can think of.

Do you come from a musical family?

Yes. My mother, brother and sister are all pianists and vocalists; my sister-in-law is a vocalist, and my nephew is starting music.

What are your career goals?

To become a music theory/viola professor who performs in a professional orchestra.

What made you want to pursue music as a career rather than as a hobby?

My high school orchestra teacher, Ms. Kathy Fishburn, at Tascosa High School, was such an inspiration, that I just had to continue doing music. It felt like a responsibility to carry that on.

If you couldn’t be in music, what career would you choose?

This is a rather simple question: I would pursue being a mathematician (I’m already minoring in mathematics).

If you could take a lesson from any person, alive or deceased, who would it be and why?

I would probably take a lesson with Paul Hindemith. Even though he’s not my favorite viola player, I honor his playing, as well as greatly cherish his contribution to music theory and musicology. I’ve also heard that he was a fantastic teacher, and his students used to enjoy his teaching very much. He also taught at Yale University, a school I aspire to go to.

Who has been the most influential musician in your life?

I would probably say my mother. She started me in music, but she constantly reminds me that music does not define me. I must search through all portals to see which one allows me to be the person I am most proud of as a musician, and as a human being.

Do you have any pre-concert rituals?

No, I actually don’t get nervous.

What is your favorite memory, thus far, of being a musician?

Getting to watch Gil Shaham play J.S. Bach’s two violin concertos live with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Jaap van Zweden.

Do you have any skills or hidden talents your fellow studio members wouldn’t know about?

I am a geography maven; I can list every country, capital, flag, national language, and currency for all the countries of the world!

Comments RSS You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Introducing Isaiah Chapman”

  1. Ellen McGlone says:

    Wow! A triple major with a minor in math — Isaiah, you are an inspiration!

Leave a Reply