National Symphony Orchestra: Helmuth Rilling, conductor: All-J.S. Bach Program including the Concerto for Oboe, Violin, and Orchestra
NSO Pops: Happy Holidays! with Cirque de la Symphonie / Steven Reineke, conductor
National Symphony Orchestra: Handel's Messiah
The Kennedy Center Chamber Players: Works by Bartók, Ravel, Bowen, & Arensky
Boston University (BM), Rice University (MM)
a. Was it for music?
Yes, both schools
2. What is your favorite piece (or pieces) to play in the orchestra?
I love anything by Dvorák, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Janácek
3. Describe your favorite NSO moment:
We performed Brahms First Symphony with Christoph Eschenbach in February of 2008 (soon after that he was named our next Music Director). The last page of the piece was some of the most exciting music making I've ever felt in an orchestra concert. There was a real visceral feeling to it, almost as if it was the first performance of the piece ever....
4. What are three songs or pieces you love to listen to?
My favorite composer is Bach, so I am often listening to his solo pieces for violin or cello, or his chamber music.
5. Did you grow up in a musical household?
Yes. Both of my parents studied violin from childhood through college. My mother is a private violin teacher and my father studied violin and bow making in college. He opened up his own violin shop in 1979 and has been in business in Houston, TX, ever since. When I wasn't in school, at a sports practice or game, or rehearsal/concert, I was at my Dad's shop, watching him rehair bows, restore a violin top, or any kind of repair. I worked for him at various times, learning the basics of the business. It's given me a deep appreciation and understanding of how string instruments are constructed, how each part of it works and contributes to the sound. There are so many nuances in string instrument set up, and a professional musician like myself needs to know those things. My brother played cello for a few years and my sister played violin, but they eventually moved on to other interests.
6. What did you want to be growing up?
I love basketball deeply...played on teams for years as a teenager and felt very connected to it. But whether it was a fear of failure or skepticism of whether I was any good, I decided to focus on music.
a. When did you know you wanted to be a professional classical musician?
I was a sophomore in high school, and just decided that I was going to push myself to be the best bassist and musician. It became an obsession. Practicing many hours, participating in youth orchestras, competitions, summer festivals, and ultimately planning to go to a fine music school in college, which worked out for me in both of my degree programs.
7. What is your favorite thing about living in the DC area?
The green space. I love the beautiful view I have driving to work every day - Rock Creek Park and 16th Street are basically the woods so it doesn't feel like you are driving in a city.
8. Where is your favorite DC hangout?
These days I'm in the car a lot between NSO, Peabody teaching, and my home life. I actually prefer the bike and running trails as a "hangout" location more than any other restaurant or establishment. But DC does have great museums - I'm sure when my daughter is older we will be exploring DC more than we are now - she's only 4 months old!
9. Do you have any pets?
Yes, our German Shorthaired Pointer, Tia, is almost 3 years old. We rescued her when she was 1. She is my running and training partner. She's quite the hunter too!
10. What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
I started running shortly after we rescued Tia. That has become a passion - ran my first marathon last month! In addition I love watching sports games on TV or in person. My wife, Heidi and I love to cook every kind of cuisine.
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14. Name one thing people would be surprised to know about you.
Everyone seems surprised I am from Texas, maybe because I have no accent and I have the Jewish New York East Coast vibe going on. But, yeah, I'm a Houston boy. Yee haw!!!!