Hometown: Elgin, IL
Alma mater: Bard College
Appearances: Bard Music Festival, 2015 & 2016; Kneisel Hall, 2011 & 2012; Colorado College Summer Music Festival, 2008 & 2009; Encore School for Strings, 2007; Heifetz International Music Institute, 2006; MYA Summer Music Festival, 2004 & 2005; Credo Summer Music Festival, 2003; Meadowmount School of Music, 2002
Instagram account: @birrdman
Musical origins: From what I remember, I observed my older brother learning to play the violin and wanted to be like him.
Favorite thing about TŌN: What I like best about TŌN is the sense of camaraderie within the orchestra.
Favorite piece to play: Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132
Favorite obscure piece: It isn’t the most obscure of his pieces, but Kodály wrote an Adagio for Violin and Piano which I adore. Subsequent transcriptions by Kodály and others are for viola (the perfect register for it, of course), cello, and double bass.
Favorite composer fact: Upon growing bored during opera rehearsals, Mozart is said to have imitated cats by leaping over tables and meowing.
Favorite musical memory: Playing Shostakovich’s 15th Symphony in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. It was a very powerful feeling to perform that music in the hall where it was premiered.
Which composer would have had the best social media: Mozart liked to party so his Instagram and Snapchat would be lit.
Favorite fact about your instrument: It has a C string.
The thing most people don’t know about classical music is: Most people don’t really know about classical music. It seems safe to assume that most people have had more exposure to a symphony orchestra through Hollywood film scores than either live or even recorded symphonic masterpieces. What they might be surprised to find is that Mozart and Beethoven rock every bit as hard as John Williams or Hans Zimmer.
Favorite non-classical band: This is constantly in flux but right now I am listening to a lot of trap music, and when the mood strikes me I am always willing to put on some 90s grunge or metal. I have a deep affinity for Deftones, Queens of the Stone Age, and other bands along that vein.
Best album to have on repeat: I could probably listen to The Wall on repeat for quite a long time.
What recording would you take to a deserted island: Janos Starker Live in Concert, Tokyo, July 29, 1988
Proudest accomplishment: This is a bit corny, but last year I performed in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall for the first time and felt as though I had reached a milestone in my career.
Favorite non-musical activity: I have been paintballing since I was a kid and continue to do so as often as I can.
Last book read: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
Favorite painting: A large unnamed piece hanging in my bedroom by my very talented friend Eddy Aparicio
Piece of advice for a young classical musician: Broaden your musical horizons as often as you can. Listen to non-classical music of every vein. Search for and play with musicians so different from you that you are forced out of your comfort zone into an area that allows you to create without preconceived notions.
Time travel destination: Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Bethel, N.Y. – Aug. 18, 1969