October Musician of the Month Interview:
When did you start playing the clarinet?
“I started playing the clarinet at age 11 in middle school.”
What made you choose the clarinet?
“I don’t really remember why I chose the clarinet over other instruments. It was probably because most of my friends chose it. We’ll just say it chose me.”
What is it about performing for a live audience that you enjoy?
“There are probably several reasons I enjoy performing for an audience, some of which I may not even be aware. There is a unique dynamic between performer and listener in a live setting that is hard to describe and impossible to replicate. Even when you are performing in a large concert hall for thousands of people, there is a connection that is felt by those on the stage and those in the audience. The acts of sharing and communicating rewards all involved in the performance, everyone is giving and receiving simultaneously. The energy and excitement of a live setting enhances the performance itself, I actually play better when performing for an audience. Don’t get me wrong, I get quite nervous when performing live, but I somehow play more musically and with more purpose. And truth be told, it’s also an adrenaline rush which I must crave because I love to perform, even though its scary and nerve-racking. Ya, I know…issues.”
If you could play any other instrument, what would you play?
“I’ve always said the cello. But, recently I told a good friend if I could do it over again I would play the cello, he said, ‘The cello? You, the cello? No, no. You are much too neurotic and fastidious.’ Perhaps the oboe then, an instrument that welcomes OCD with open arms.”
When you aren’t playing music, what are your hobbies?
“Hobbies, what are those? I’ve told myself for years I need to form an answer to this question because all the number of times I’ve been asked this question and have no response other than a blank stare and uncontrollable throat-clearing. I’m somewhat of a workaholic. I will say, though, that I’ve managed to renovate three houses, the last of which was taken down to the studs. Total extreme makeover. I do most of the work myself which astonishes people. Contractors look at me like I wouldn’t even know how to hammer a nail. Pretty funny.”
What is the most bizarre performing experience you have ever had?
“Fortunately, I haven’t really had anything bizarre happen or been asked to do anything too weird. Well there is Brazil. I played the opening recital of a week-long music festival. I don’t typically wear coats/ties at performances, but my collaborative pianist said that these people take their concerts seriously and that wearing my usual attire while playing the opening concert might be insulting. Fine, suit and tie. Long story short, she completely saved me. Before the concert, I had several on-camera interviews with television reporters, one after the other. Then newspaper interviews. The concert was sold out, actually standing room only, and as the opening of the festival, there was a good bit of pomp and circumstance. Everyone spoke – the mayor, the festival organizers, for over an hour. I didn’t play my first note until after 9:00 p.m. Then at the conclusion, more interviews as they followed us to the dressing rooms. I had paparazzi! And the most bizarre thing of all was sitting at breakfast later that week and hearing clarinet. I hear clarinet in my head all the time, but this was different. I looked up and saw myself on the television screen playing one of the recital pieces. I was on a show similar to Good Morning America. They played one of the interviews. Not sure what I said, but it sounded so nice in Portuguese.”
Are you excited about your upcoming performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto?
“I can’t express enough how excited I am about this. Playing one of the most perfect pieces of music with GDG and my orchestra for my friends/family and the Columbus patrons that support us each and every year…it just doesn’t get any better. I played the Mozart my first season with the CSO and that was without a doubt one of the most special nights in my career. That was thirteen years ago, which hardly seems possible. I’m a different player now and my approach to the piece is somewhat different, but its like visiting with an old friend. Many people know the piece, but I’m especially excited to perform it for those that have never heard it live. Hope I can do is justice!”
What did you want to be when you grew up?
“A lawyer. Or an accountant. I’m the poster child for Accidental Performers.”
What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
“My career. I didn’t have an unusual amount of talent growing up, I didn’t go to fancy schools, and am terrible at networking. Yet somehow I have managed to piece together a career. I play in two highly respected orchestras with amazing colleagues that inspire me all the time, I’m a tenured university professor, and I perform a lot of solo and chamber recitals with musicians so much better than me. And I just released a CD and someone actually bought one (OK, it was probably a student). Not too shabby. #hardworkpaysoff”