The internationally acclaimed violinist discusses a wide range of topics relevant to classical musicians.
Heather: Were there times when you got frustrated with practicing or playing when it came to something that you couldn’t get right away?
Midori: I think that’s something we all go through. And it’s not only as children and young musicians that we have our frustrations that we try so hard and we love our music so much and we love our instrument so much and we have so much respect for it.
Heather: And so with 5 - 6 hour of practicing a day, how did you balance that with homework and also being a kid?
Midori: I went to a regular school when I was growing up and I didn’t think the option of homeschool. I was not widely available at the time. I always liked having fun at school and hanging out with friends, and I particularly liked some classes, some subjects.
Heather: So now you're in a new school and learning a new language, what was the music, how did that translate going from one environment to the other and now how are the kids responding to music in your new school?
Midori: I think what was very different about my life in New York from when I was living in Japan was that I also started to go to music school, to the pre-college program in Juilliard which is once a week.
American choral composer and National Medal of the Arts recipient Morten discusses his life and works.
Morten Lauridsen: Well I think it'd be helpful to perhaps demonstrate on how are pieces put together by using Dirait-on, because it's become such a well-known piece. I always designed as a piece that had never been composed, always been there. I designed this piece in the style of a French folk song. And for that I wanted to use a chord that was very French, and I went to the music of Ravel and Debussy for a single sonority from which to gather my materials for a melody and for the harmony and for the overall piece. And this is a chord that's very much a favorite of theirs. I chose Revell and WC because we're talking about early 20th century French music and this is when this French poem was written, in 1924.
Jonah Rosenthal: If you could give any particular advice to young people interested in becoming composers themselves, what would stand out above everything else for you?
Morten Lauridsen: Well, the composer has to know more than any other musician in a certain way. They have to combine their knowledge of theory and orchestration in history and counterpoint and all of these elements. They must have all of that at hand in order to be able to express themselves musically through the creation of a brand new work out of nothing. And for that you need technical strength.
Jonah Rosenthal: If you could say a bit about how you learned to write for all the other instruments that you might not have actually formally studied.
Morten Lauridsen: That's a very good question, especially for young composers. I certainly recommend to young composers that you have a piano background. It will help you every single day of your adult professional career. But I also had the opportunity to play on in ensembles, which I think is another thing that's important for composers, to understand how ensembles work from our participants viewpoint.
MacArthur “Genius” Grant Fellow and international cello soloist Alisa Weilerstein discusses her career.
Matthew Janszen: On the subject of stage fright too I think sometimes with younger kids when they're starting out is the idea of memorization is also sort of a catalyst to sort of make somebody nervous, do you have any tricks or things that you've dealt with in terms of memorization?
Alisa Weilerstein: I would say as soon as someone's...as soon as you start to learn to play, make yourself memorize things. Get it in really really early because then it will become a habit. It'll make life a whole lot easier.
Matthew Janszen: Were there times when you got frustrated when you practiced?
Alisa Weilerstein: Oh yeah!
Matthew: How did you overcome that or how do you get through that?
Alisa: Using the phrase “this too shall pass!” (laughing hysterically). No, there's no getting around the fact that there's a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved. Maybe not blood, but tears
Matthew Janszen: What kind of music are you listening to right now? What's on your iPod?
Alisa Weilerstein: I’m listening to a lot of Gabriel Kahane songs. That's the project I'm doing now so…
Matthew: Yeah Classical Chops has actually interviewed Gabriel Kahane. So, make sure you check that out on our website.
Alisa: Absolutely!...I’m listening to the Beethoven - Grosse Fuge a lot.
American composer and performer Nico Muhly talks about the challenges of being a composer and studying at the Juilliard School.
Brett Banducci: So what advice would you have for a young composer or even an older composer hitting that wall of frustration?
Nico Muhly: I feel like part of...there's a couple of things with composer specifically, I think I think part of it is recalibrating. Recalibrating what you think being successful is. I think there's a misunderstanding that there is a finite number of opportunities and that there's a...and that if you don't get this then you're ruined you know. Or if you don't...or that there's this hierarchy of opportunities. And that you know a commission from this orchestra is much better from a commission from this Orchestra.
Brett Banducci: Let’s talk a little bit about who you studied with at Juiliard, maybe inspiring professors or composers.
Nico Muhly: I had two teachers in my five years there I had...for two and a half years with Christopher Rouse, then two and a half years with John Corigliano. Very very different teachers, very very different composers. The great things about Christopher Rouse is that he was obsessed with knowing the rep like he's like a crazy “know the rep” person. And he kind of, he gave these endless listening lists and if you didn't know all of the Nielsen's chamber music you know he'd make you listen to it.
Brett Banducci: How did you get started with music as a kid?
Nico Muhly: We found a piano in our basement. We lived in this sprawling house in Providence, Rhode Island. And there was a piano and it was you know in terrible shape but we had it restored. And it was decreed that someone should learn how to play, it probably should be me. You know someone had put something so deep in the basement that there was no possibility that anyone would ever find it unless we were looking for something which we were and then we found it.