Where are you?
Right now I’m in LA. I was supposed to “move” here 2 weeks ago, but I got lazy and have been living in hotels the past 2 weeks! Fun! Plus, I needed the time to practice for this past Sunday’s concert at Disney Hall. I have 2 weeks off before Flutes by the Sea, so I’m figuring out where to go next!
What’s on your schedule right now?
I played principal flute in Disney Hall for the Symphony of the Goddesses (music from Legend of Zelda video game) symphony on 6/14, and I will be playing the same show in San Diego 7/11. After that, I’m getting ready for my NFA performance, which will be presented as an installation fusing technology, light, and music. I’m writing all the music as well as building the installation and doing the tech. I’m working on a hologram show in London, most likely August or September. I shot the video when I was there last month.
If you hadn’t chosen music, what do you think you would do right now?
I’d probably be on an ice cream truck. I always wanted to be an ice cream man (woman) before I wanted to be a musician. I did a few appearances in Times Square this summer when I had time. I like it because it’s totally mindless and even zen-like. Serve ice cream, get money. Repeat. I don’t even really have to speak.
What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
Overall, I’d say Sir James Galway. I had many of his CDs as a kid, and I remember listening to his Rodrigo Concerto over and over and over. But now, I am inspired by all kinds of artists. Right now, I’m into Japanese visual artist Yayoi Kusama.
What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
The hardest part is getting “known” or “seen” etc…it’s always been somewhat arbitrary and not always talent based. Sometimes it is very frustrating, but if you love your art, even if you only have 2 fans, you must keep going. I know so many super talented people who are not getting the attention they work so hard for and deserve. It is very difficult.
The best is the feeling you get when playing music and connecting to people through music. There’s really nothing better than that!
What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
There is absolutely a crisis, and I’m not sure how it can be solved….when I played in Disney Hall on Sunday, the show was sold out for months, and it was the youngest and most enthusiastic audience i’ve ever played to in a symphony setting. There was no soloist or singers, just purely orchestral music with some visuals from the video game projected on the screen above the stage. People dressed in costume from the game, and it was abuzz on social media. The only issue was that it was video game music. But maybe that should no longer be an issue. I don’t think that just because it is music from a video game, that it is dumbing down the symphony orchestra in any way. The arrangements were beautifully done, and the audience was screaming for encores. That rarely, if at all, happens in the USA. Orchestra management needs to be more progressive in their programming. I think New World Symphony is doing a great job with that, and San Francisco Symphony is making strides in the right directions also. The East Coast orchestras…need to come a long way.
What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your
approach to performing on stage?
Attitude and personality is really important to me. To see someone totally connect with the music and project that to everyone can be amazing. I also think fashion and style is important. When I perform on stage, I go all out. I’m a perfectionist, especially aesthetically, so everything from lighting to the shoes I’m wearing is equally as important as the music I’m playing, because I need to feel comfortable. If I don’t feel comfortable and fabulous, then I feel I’m not giving my best. This is probably why I perform so infrequently!
True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into
the music he plays.
Absolutely true! We don’t want to sound like robots. But I like robots, too 🙂
True or false: “Music is my first love”.
True. Duh. It is my first and only love (except for Yubeen Kim, who will be my future husband).
True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they
can really appreciate it.
Depends on the education…I’ll share a recent story: This summer, I was training a recent immigrant to NYC originally from Romania. He was around 35 years old and did not have a college education, and came from a country Romanian family. I asked him, out of the blue, if he knew any Romanian folk songs and that many have been transcribed for classical musicians. He totally surprised me when he rattled off composers’ names like Liszt and then started whistling the Czardas. I asked him how he knew about this music, and he said they taught it in school up to high school. More importantly, I think it was because it was music of his people, and they had a sense of pride in it, even for the younger generations. That made me think…as a nation, America is fairly new, especially when it comes to composers and music. I think it is more difficult for us (USA) to appreciate and understand classical music written by composers from Europe. American classical music is still fairly new, however, that’s not what is being taught in schools. And I think if that changed, there could be a better appreciation for it in this country.
You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What
would be on your program for this season?
I’d love to see symphony orchestras use technology. Bring back Heifitz, Rostropovich, the great soloists of yesteryear, in hologram form with orchestra! Utilize the latest technology in new music and new performances. There is a world of options that we’re not even close to exploring yet. Draw examples from the dance and theater worlds.
What’s your favorite classical CD at the moment?
Are they still making classical CDs?
I have a vimeo link: https://vimeo.com/108361483