One of the things we’ll really miss is sharing meals with our musicians and our lovely hosts. Along with their incredible artistry, our musicians are also delightful company, as many of you know from your connections with them as hosts, drivers, and simply audience members who have enjoyed our musicians concert comments for years. As we have profiled various MSCM musicians over the years, we’ve always asked them,“if you could have dinner with a classical composer, who would it be and why?” Although we can’t be together this year, you’re invited to imagine we’re sitting down to a lovely dinner together as you enjoy their thoughtful and amusing answers here.
And while our musicians will not be on the North Shore this summer, they are keeping busy. Find out what musicians are doing about their pandemic based and ongoing projects.
Ryo Yanagitani (piano)
I’d have dinner with Chopin. His works have always been my springboard for artistic inspiration, and a crutch when I needed support to reaffirm my love of music. I’m quite sure he’d be a quirky and yet very proper and composed guest at the dinner table.
Anna Fedorova (piano)
I must say it’s quite a hard question as it’s so hard to choose just one! I’m divided between Mozart and Schumann but probably if I really need to choose one – it would be Mozart! His genius is so fascinating and personality is so exciting – I am just so confident we would have an incredible time!
Emily Marvosh (contralto)
Clara Schumann (or for that matter, Barbara Strozzi or any female composer). I would love to know what it was really like to be a woman in classical music before the 20th century. What was the best advice anyone ever gave her? Did she have any regrets? Did she face discrimination? Did she have female peers who understood talent and intellect?
Simon Powis (guitar)
Leonard Bernstein. Because he was one of the great communicators and educators. Plus, my non existent German would make for an awkward dinner at the Bach’s.
Nicholas Schwartz (bass)
I would love to have dinner with Schumann, whose music is at the same time classic and hopelessly romantic. There is something complicated or hard to fulfill when playing his music which I could never figure out completely. Maybe he could enlighten me. He was also one of the most respected music critics in history. I’m sure he could answer all my questions about music!
Jacques Lee Wood (cello)
Yikes…what a hard question to answer! I can’t imagine a dinner with a composer like Beethoven or Schumann, for example, would be very enjoyable. Too much ego, expectation, and inhibition on my part at least. So perhaps a more enjoyable alternative: I would love to spend an evening with Schubert and his friends. The liveliness of the Schubertiade with music, art, poetry – not to mention the crew Schubert ran with was a particularly wild bunch. Did you know one of his close friends was imprisoned for a year then permanently exiled from Vienna? Admittedly, I’m not the law-breaking sort, I put my kids to bed at 8:30pm and pass out at 9pm…but still, what an experience to run with Schubert’s crowd! Though, I’d likely skip the brothels they were known to frequent.
Verena Sennekamp (cello)
It would have to be Beethoven! We are both from Bonn and I wonder if he would have spoken with a strong accent from the Rhineland area? Quite a funny thought! But seriously now, I am very curious about Beethoven’s personality. His music is full of extremes. He wrote some of the harshest and most daring moments in music. And in the next second, his music turns incredibly intimate, almost sweet. Just like in human nature, the most endearing and the most awful things exist so closely together. Even though Beethoven had quite a reputation for his temper, I wonder if he was a very wise and sensitive man underneath?
Estelle Choi (cello)
I’m totally fascinated by Felix Mendelssohn. He really was a renaissance man– a philosopher, a painter, fluent in many languages, and a true prodigy. His musical writing is so idiomatic for all the instruments that it really is a joy to perform his works. My quartet just did Mendelssohn’s whole string cycle and it was eye opening to explore these works that spanned his entire life, from his teenage years to just months before his death (at the age of 38). I think it would be really interesting to be in the presence of such genius.
Clare Bradford (cello)
I think I would love to have dinner with Beethoven. He is the one composer where I can listen to anything he’s written and be completely absorbed in it. His string quartets, symphonies, sonatas, concertos etc. all give me a feeling no other composer can. I would love to just get to know him, and also to ask him why in the world he never wrote a cello concerto!
Izia Weyman (viola)
Gah, so many to choose from here! I’ve always been obsessed with string quartets so I’d probably go with someone who really shook up that genre. Would it be Haydn, who started it all? Beethoven, whose late quartets still sound revolutionary to me? Bartok, whose use of folk melodies make for an amazing listening and playing experience? Can they all come?
Abigail Rojansky (viola)
I would be fascinated to dig some secrets out of Clara Schumann if possible over a meal prepared by the amazing contemporary composer and famously skillful cook, Ned Rorem. And naturally the chef ought to join us at the table too…
Kerry Kavalo (viola)
I would have dinner with Beethoven and ask him: why didn’t you write a sonata or concerto for viola? What gives?!
Rose Hashimoto (viola)
Haydn, because he’s one of my favorite composers, and I have a feeling that he would be a very entertaining dinner companion!
Matt Cohen (viola)
Shostakovich, because I would love to ask him to write a viola concerto–I believe he could really capture the soul of the instrument in that medium!
Jacob Adams (viola)
I would like to have dinner with Puccini. I realize he is known as an opera composer, so it might seem a strange choice for an instrumentalist. But, having played most of his operas, I always marvel at his ability to write for the viola. He had a real sense of its capabilities as an orchestral color and as a melodic instrument. I would, in my bad Italian, over many glasses of wine, try to convince him to write a sonata or a concerto for viola. Plus, we would likely have some great Italian food.
Sophie Heaton (viola)
Sophie and her brother Eliot (violin, see below) were asked an additional question: Who would your sibling want to have dinner with?
I think Eliot would have a very hard time answering this question on his own behalf, because he would find it so hard to choose just one composer he wanted to have dinner with. If he were absolutely forced to pick, however, I think he might say Mozart, because I gave him a compilation of all of Mozart’s letters for Christmas, and I know that after reading it (as he has most assuredly done by now :-)), he is probably as charmed by Mozart as I was after finishing the book.
Eliot Heaton (violin)
Eliot and his sister Sophie (above) were asked an additional question: Who would your sibling want to have dinner with?
Sophie will say Mozart because he’s her favorite composer and has a great sense of humor according to a lengthy collection of his letters that she has been trying to get me to read.
Roseminna Watson (violin)
György Kurtág because I love the specificity and sparsity of his music (especially the “12 Microludes for String Quartet”) and because he is still vivaciously composing at age 93! I want to hear all about his process, his life and his opinions. Also, I recorded some of his miniatures from the set “Signs, Games and Messages” a couple of years ago and I would like to hear his honest and detailed feedback!
Keiko Tokunaga (violin)
I would love to have dinner with Satie. He just seems wonderfully witty and strange. I once read a short essay written by Satie that made me curious about him; in his delightfully sarcastic tone, he talked about how he only allowed himself to eat white things (such as white bread and egg white) because he was a composer. It made no sense and made me laugh. It would be fascinating to share a meal with him.
Emilie-Anne Gendron (violin)
Definitely Mozart. By all accounts, he was a pretty funny guy and enjoyed immature bathroom humor. I think he’d be hilarious to hang out with.
Emma Frucht (violin)
Probably Leonard Bernstein. He was such a dynamic and versatile artist. I would love to pick his brain! I’ve heard so many stories about him, and I love watching videos of him playing and conducting.
WHAT ARE OUR MUSICIANS DOING THIS YEAR?
Violist and Assistant Professor of Viola at University of Alabama, Jacob Adams – Listen and Watch
Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, cellist Estelle Choi will be performing live broadcasted concerts with The Calidore String Quartet
Violinist, Emma Frucht, released a new music video and recording album Aizuri Quartet this past Spring
Lauded “Brilliant soloist” by the New York Times, violinist Emilie-Anne Gendron – On August 4, 6-7:30pm EST there will be a curated concert of performances by Composers Conference Ensemble members (of which Emilie is a member!) This broadcast will be a compilation of various archival videos collected from Ensemble members playing in their own groups during the year. All of it is contemporary/20th-century music. Emilie will be 3rd in the broadcast, in a performance from Oct. 15, 2019 with Momenta Quartet in Alvin Singleton‘s new work “Hallelujah Anyhow” (2019), which he dedicated to us as the result of a Chamber Music America commission.
Aug. 5, 6-7:30PM EST (pre-concert conversation with Eric Chasalow at 5:30 PM EST): The complete Synchronisms of the late great Mario Davidovsky (1934-2019), performed by Composers Conference ensemble members. Emilie performs in Synchronism #2 for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and tape.
Concerts will be uploaded to YouTube to be livestreamed on the assigned dates/times, but will archived immediately on the Composers Conference YouTube channel for later viewing.
Complete virtual festival (August 1-9) schedule and all streaming links can be found here: 2020 Virtual Composers Conference Events
2020 Grammy Winner, violinist Keiko Tokunaga has launched KeikoTube
Henry Wang, violinist, has introduced Basic Pitch, an online talk show by musicians for musicians
Violinist Audrey Wright, Associate Concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, has started a project called “An Excerpt a Day”
If you’re missing pianist extraordinaire Ryo Yanagitani this summer, you’re not alone! To fill the void, you can watch him give an online Master Class for the Cactus Pear Music Festival.
MSCM connection we wanted to pass along to our friends:
Racism touches everyone no matter the industry. You may not know but Jacques Lee Wood’s wife, Mai Uchida, is a child psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital who recently wrote this interesting article about discussing racism with children