Before I even knew what a cello was, music played a powerful role in my life. My parents may not have known L'Eliser D'Amore, but they definitely knew Les Miserables. The first time I heard the majesty of a symphony orchestra was not through Schubert, but Schonberg and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I would even go far as to attribute my quick love of opera to my early exposure of musicals (thanks Mom and Dad!). The release of the new Les Mis 'Extended First Look' Trailer got my attention for many reasons. Along with Anne Hathaway's raw portrayal of one of the most heartbreaking characters in the history of literature, I am extremely excited about the film's focus on the importance of the music and its artistic expression. When was the last time you heard A-list Hollywood actors talk about that?
To me, Fall is the most exciting season for music. Besides the return of apple cider and pumpkin pie, I relish the rush and vigor of season openings that bring us back to ensembles we respect and performances of music we love. In addition to our old favorites, we can look forward to new artists presenting music in intriguing and exhilarating ways. One ensemble that has caught my attention (not just because of the killer palindrome), is the piano / cello duo iAN&ANi. The duo's innovative and passionate performances of classical music with dancers and multimedia struck me as particularly fascinating. Their new album "Tango Plus" comes out October 10 and I took a moment to ask cellist Ian Maksin a few questions about this rising duo:
Every once in a while, I realize what a huge nerd I am. Though this is a label I proudly wear, sometimes I have to notice that the terms I toss around daily might as well be in ancient Estonian / Finnish to my non-classical friends. While you might not need a full Rosetta Stone course to grasp the language of classical music, we've all been through some kind of journey to pick up the jargon. If you can, think back to a time when you had never heard of terms such as "sonata form", "principal player" and "atonal music". Now those terms are crucial to even getting through most concert program notes! Living in Chicago brings us in contact with all kinds of different people - many who have no idea that in an orchestra there are two different sections for the violins. When it comes to explaining classical music, how do you get past the technicalities?
One of the most rewarding parts of being a musician is having the opportunity to see on the faces of others that what you are doing is worthwhile. If you can hear firsthand from an audience member what spoke to them and what they enjoyed - this is even better. We work hard and put our minds, bodies and souls into the music we love with the hope that you will love it too. Communication between the audience and the performers is key to the success of any artistic organization. Having said this, there are still boundaries that need to be maintained between the stage and the audience. What are the best ways and times to approach a musician to speak with them? I will share my thoughts and I invite you to share yours as well.
How would music sound if you lived in a country different from your birthplace?
For me I immediately think of my favorite books about the kind of culture-clash and longing for home experienced by many people in today’s world. So when I attended the Chinese Fine Arts Society’s Migratory Journeys concert last week, hearing those emotions in music, not words, was something I was really excited for.