Author: Simon A. Lee

Interview with Nobuko Imai

With her exceptional talent, musical integrity, and charisma, Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding violist of our time. After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University and the Juilliard School, she won the highest prizes at both the prestigious international competition in  Munich and Geneva.  Formerly a member of the esteemed Vermeer Quartet, Ms. Imai combines a distinguished international solo career with various teaching commitments. She has appeared with numerous wolrd’s prestigious orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, the London Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony. As a keen chmaber musician, Ms. Imai has performed with various prominent artists such as Gidon Kremer, Midori, Isaac Stern, Mischa Maisky, and Martha Argerich. In 2003, she formed the Michelangelo Quartet. The quartet gained the international reputation quickly and now became one of finest quartets in the world. Ms. Imai has dedicated a large part of her artistic activities to explore the diverse potential of the viola.  She returns to Japan several times a year, to perform as soloist …

Interview with Katarina Markovic

Katarina Markovic is a musicologist and pianist specializing in late- and post-Romantic music. She has contributed articles to Beethoven Forum and New Sound International Magazine, and read papers at national and international conferences on a wide range of topics, including the music of Gustav Mahler, Mahler’s Beethoven interpretations, cyclicity in the nineteenth-century symphony, the lament in Balkan folk traditions, and French Early Modern Opera. Her scholarly interests are interdisciplinary in nature, and also include fin-de-siècle European arts and culture, German Idealist aesthetics, and music and national identity in the Balkan region. A native of Belgrade, Serbia, she has lived both in Europe and in the U.S. Katarina is a recipient of research grants and awards from the French Ministry of Culture, Max Kade and Sachar Foundations, and Brandeis University. What’s the first piece by Schoenberg that you’d performed? The sixth and final piece of the Sechs kleine Klavierstücke (Op. 19). It’s dedicated to Mahler and I wanted to figure out how Mahler is reflected in it. How did you prepare for this performance, mentally and physically? The pieces by Schoenberg that I’d performed …

Interview with Tom Simone

Tom Simone is a professor at the University of Vermont, where he has taught for over 40 years in the English department. He’s translated the first two parts of Dante’s Commedia and is currently in the process of finishing its third and final part. Together with Paul Orgel, he has organised one concert per semester for the past 7 years that explores a literary era through its classical composition. Do you know any stories about Schoenberg? My teacher, who was a pretty good pianist and taught music history, actually met Schoenberg. He told me about the meeting. It happened around 1951 or 1952. So, just before he died? Yes, that’s right. Schoenberg apparently said to him, “I’m really interested in the electric piano, because of the different way of doing music.” I couldn’t figure out what he meant. This was before computers were around and tape recorders were just coming in. Schoenberg, even at that time, was interested in new ways of thinking about music. What is it like for you to listen to Schoenberg’s music? I don’t listen to it as much …

Interview with Marcy Rosen

Marcy Rosen has established herself as one of the most important and respected artists of our day. Los Angeles Times music critic Herbert Glass has called her “one of the intimate art’s abiding treasures.” She has performed in recital and with orchestra throughout Canada, England, France, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, and all fifty of the United States. She made her concerto debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of eighteen and has since appeared with such noted orchestras as the Dallas Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Caramoor Festival Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, the Jupiter Symphony and Concordia Chamber Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, and the Tokyo Symphony at the famed Orchard Hall in Tokyo. In recital she has appeared in New York at such acclaimed venues as Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street “Y” and Merkin Concert Hall; in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center, Dumbarton Oaks, the Phillips Collection and the Corcoran Gallery, where for many years she hosted a series entitled “Marcy Rosen and Friends.” In recent seasons she has …

Interview with Kim Kashkashian

Kim Kashkashian, internationally recognized as a unique voice on the viola, was born of Armenian parents in Michigan. She studied the viola with Karen Tuttle and legendary violist Walter Trampler at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. Since fall 2000 she has taught viola and chamber music at New England Conservatory.

 Following Grammy Award nominations for several previous recordings, Kim received a 2012 Grammy Award in the “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” category for Kurtág and Ligeti: Music for Viola, on the ECM Records label. Kashkashian’s recording, with Robert Levin, of the Brahms Sonatas won the Edison Prize in 1999. Her June 2000 recording of concertos by Bartók, Eötvös and Kurtág won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award for a premiere recording by soloist with orchestra. Kim has worked tirelessly to broaden the range of technique, advocacy, and repertoire for the viola. A staunch proponent of contemporary music, she has developed creative relationships with György Kurtág, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, and Arvo Pärt, and commissioned works from Peter Eötvös, Ken Ueno, Thomas Larcher, Lera Auerbach, and …

Interview with Charles Neidich

Hailed by the New Yorker as ‘a master of his instrument and beyond a clarinetist’, Charles Neidich has been described as one of the most mesmerising musicians performing before the public today. He regularly appears as soloist and as collaborator in chamber music programs with leading ensembles including the Saint Louis Symphony, Minneapolis Symphony, I Musici di Montreal, Tafelmusik, Handel/Haydn Society, Royal Philharmonic, Deutsches Philharmonic, MDR Symphony, Yomiuri Symphony, National Symphony of Taiwan, and the Juilliard, Guarneri, Brentano, American, Mendelssohn, Carmina, Colorado, and Cavani String Quartets. He is currently a member of the New York Woodwind Quintet and a member emeritus of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In 1985, Charles became the first clarinetist to win the Walter W. Naumburg Competition, which brought him to prominence as a soloist. He then taught at the Eastman School of Music and during that tenure joined the New York Woodwind Quintet, an ensemble with which he still performs. His European honours include a top prize at the 1982 Munich International Competition sponsored by the German television network ARD, and the Geneva and …

Interview with Jonathan Biss

Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who extends his deep musical and intellectual curiosity from the keyboard to classical music lovers in the concert hall and beyond. In addition to his performance schedule, the 34-year old American has spent eight summers at the Marlboro Music Festival, and has written extensively for prestigious media outlets about his own relationships with the composers with whom he shares a stage. A member of the faculty of his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music, since 2010, Jonathan led the school’s first massive open online course (MOOC) to a virtual classroom of 51,000 students last season. Jonathan has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Shouse Debut Artist Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s …