- Tell me a bit about your thoughts/perspective on the Brahms violin concerto.
It is one of two biggest concertos we have as violinist, along with the Beethoven violin concerto. It is one of the benchmarks we have to hit as violinists. I first learned it when I was 18. Brahms wrote his violin concerto as rich and thick as a symphony. The music is dreamy and turbulent – gorgeous oboe solos in the slow movement and a gypsy-inspired finale. I look forward to bringing this immense work to life with my friends at SNB.
- For you, what is the most challenging thing about playing the Brahms, other than its immense technical difficulty.
Its acoustical projection in its very plain form; how to be heard along side a huge orchestration. I think of the Brahms concerto as a huge symphonic work that happens to have a solo violin part. Integration between soloist, conductor, and orchestra is really important and knowing where you fit in as well. The piece is so thick in orchestration, sometimes it is hard for the audience to decipher if the violinist or the orchestra is the more important role. The soloist must exaggerate musically and acoustically so that the audience really understands what is what. Really, it is a fight between soloist and orchestra.
- Talk about your collaboration with Maestro Gueller, I know you have collaborated together quite a few times.
Maestro Bernhardt Gueller is one of my favorite conductors to collaborate with. It was in 2009 I first collaborated with him in Halifax playing the Dvorak Violin Concerto. I immediately felt a connection with him. Perhaps it is because he is cellist and knows how to calibrate with string players. But I think it is mostly because of his dedication in terms of the score. He doesn’t make the soloist feel like the conductor is in his way. Sometimes a soloist can feel like the conductor is the middle-man, steering traffic. He will say “I’ll follow you” but then that means they are already behind. This is not the case for Bernhard Gueller. He knows what is going on in everybody’s head and as a result he is with you, even ahead of you. It is always a genuine collaboration. He is a musician’s conductor, it is not ever about him. You really feel an ease with him, and get the sense that he is one of us. This will be my fourth collaboration with him, and I am very much looking forward to it.
- Any thoughts about returning to New Brunswick/Maritimes?
I love coming to the Maritimes. Atlantic Canada is, and has been, an important part of my career. When I first came here, I had no idea what I was in store for. I could not believe how incredibly supportive the audience was. I felt tremendously welcomed, and a wonderful familiar feel from the orchestra and the community. I also think that what is a luxury for SNB and for playing with them, is the fact that we get to perform for 3 different communities. I really felt like we were in this together. And SNB highlights this community feel in a way. Camaraderie then translates to an enjoyable performance. And I think the audience really feels that as well.