Future episodes include Matthias Pintscher, Marc-André Hamelin, Jennifer Koh, the Artemis String Quartet, Claire Chase, Seymour Bernstein, Alex Klein , Gary Graffman, and many more exciting guests -- stay tuned!
“You really cannot make any progress if you’re not okay with yourself. You can’t make progress until you let yourself sound like you.”
Grammy-winning singer Nathan Gunn has made a reputation around the world as one of the most exciting and in-demand baritones of the day and has appeared with the world's major opera houses and orchestras. He opens up about the world and magic of stage, the psychology and survival of the performer, the musician's breaking free financially, and breaking down barriers in every sense.
“Our rule about rehearsal from the beginning was to not complain about each other to anybody else afterwards. You don’t talk about Fight Club outside of Fight Club.”
Winner of the prestigious Banff, Young Concert Artists, and Fischoff competitions, the Cleveland Quartet Award, and an Avery Fisher Grant, the Jupiter Quartet features graduates of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Oberlin Conservatory. They discuss competitions, rehearsals, sound, management, group dynamics, and making a living in a changing musical world.
“I was very bad at being told how to play — I wanted to find out for myself.”
Roger Chase has been invited to perform as guest principal violist with most of the major British orchestras and many others in North America and Europe. The current owner of the 1717 Montagnana viola, he has recorded for EMI, Virgin, and Hyperion, and taught at the Royal College of Music, Guildhall, and Oberlin. This episode includes rehearsals with host Zsolt Bognár in Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata, and an intense conversation about fear and elation on stage, overcoming frustration in the pursuit of perfection, making a living, and being a rebel.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
String Quartet No. 14 in d minor, "Death and the Maiden"
In performance at Smith Memorial Hall, University of Illinois.
“It’s easier for me when I can’t see the audience.”
Grammy award winner and recipient of the 2013 Richard Tucker Award, Isabel Leonard is on the Board of Trustees at Carnegie Hall and is in constant demand as a recitalist, having appeared with some of the foremost conductors of her time. Highly acclaimed for her “passionate intensity and remarkable vocal beauty,” she continues to thrill audiences both in the opera house and on the concert stage in repertoire that spans from Vivaldi to Mozart to Thomas Ades.
"Historically, violinists have been gamblers... My mother, my sisters, and I, we all have the gambling bug."
Joshua Bell is one of the most celebrated violinists of his era. His restless curiosity, passion, and multi-faceted musical interests have earned him the rare title of "classical music superstar." Recently named the Music Director of the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Bell is the first person to hold this post since Sir Neville Marriner formed the orchestra in 1958.
“It’s a paradoxical, Buddhist concept: the way to really influence an orchestra is let their sound go through you, with your ears open.”
Winner of the Solti Foundation Conductor’s Prize, Case Scaglione went from trombone player in a Texas high school band to Associate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic, a position revived specially for him by Music Director Alan Gilbert. He discusses his life, the complex relationship between conductor and players, and how to make a modern orchestra sound as Bach intended.
“Life... music and what I do... has to be intermixed, has to be together... or else I feel like I’m not alive.”
In an unusually intimate portrait, young piano superstar Yuja Wang speaks of her life and work, demonstrating by musical examples throughout—including a staggering and delightful rendition of an Art Tatum arrangement of “Tea for Two.” She describes her musical aspirations in contrast with audience perceptions, the value of practicing and not practicing, learning and relearning a piece, and the importance of struggle for musical results. She ends the interview with a touching tribute to the late Claudio Abbado.
“Luck favors the prepared mind.”
Peter Takács describes how a traversal of the complete Beethoven Sonata cycle takes the performer to the heart of Beethoven's human qualities. He reflects on the performer's relationship with the musical score, the recording process in the studio, and how to sustain spontaneity, demonstrating with musical examples.
“How early do you really need to be a virtuoso pianist to succeed as a pianist in life? At one time people assumed that the world was flat—by a function of agreement.”
Filmed at his home in Philadelphia, Durso discusses misconceptions about musical promotion in the world today, the importance of balance, the role of teaching in a musician’s life, and describes his own encounters with the work and life of Dorothy Taubman as well as the controversies surrounding her work. The episode ends with a performance excerpt of Bach-Kurtág.
“I want the audience not to come with preconceived notions but to decide on the evidence of their ears and their hearts what is good.”
Filmed in his home in Cleveland, Christopher O’Riley talks about his multifaceted musical life, from the practicalities of traveling with a keyboard to nurturing the next generation of musicians. He explains and demonstrates how he found his musical voice through a diversification of projects, ranging from his Radiohead arrangements to his Liszt Project.
“Establishing closer connection to the music... your fingers go directly from your heart.”
Extraordinary young piano phenomenon Daniil Trifonov describes his workday and methods while demonstrating from his repertoire. He discusses the importance of isolation in musical discovery, his experiments with sound and emotional impulse in practice, and shares some unusual methods of practice to illuminate the creation of authentic musical performances.
“You get to a certain age when you don’t care so much what people think about you... and that’s one of the great things about getting older.”
Filmed in Steinway Hall in NYC, polymath pianist Stephen Hough describes his diverse creative projects, the importance of making a positive impression, the non-linear progress of learning, and how to deal with success and failure. Hough emphasizes the influence of his teacher Gordon Green, performance psychology, the artist’s role as an outsider, and his own perspective on the state of human rights in the world.
“The thing I hate about classical music is it’s basically a selfish pursuit.”
In one of the most talked-about episodes, Tanya Gabrielian begins with a performance of Glinka's "The Lark" and then discusses elitism in music, the highly engineered nature of some musical careers, her own way to find rewards in a lack of pretense, and her involvement in mental health awareness activism.
“Every time I practice, I decide to quit. When I don't practice, everything is fine.”
Rising star David Aladashvili discusses the his early musical education, his background as an actor and how to translate method acting to music, the challenges of daily practice, his dislike of competitions, and Juilliard as a source of musical opportunities. The episode features excerpts of Chopin and Liszt in recital.
“The people who seem to have the best and most fulfilling musical careers are the ones who are warm human beings—good people—and attract people to their human qualities as well as their musical ones.”
Paul Schenly, winner of the Avery Fisher Prize, discusses the founding of Pianofest, the importance of friendships in careers, the role of competitions in musical development, the different types of stage fright, and dealing with reviews. He also shares his own personal reasons for becoming a musician.
“We’re working constantly as artists to overcome what we feel are our limitations”
Zsolt talks to Joel Smirnoff, recipient of the Lifetime Grammy Award and former first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, about his life and work in music: composing, avoiding the straight and narrow, what makes a complete musician, and why the musical life in Cleveland is special.
“If you do what you love, you do it well, and you give it your all, somebody will notice eventually.”
Four young rising stars in the classical music world discuss how to make a living, dealing with auditions, competitions, the role of teachers, and getting concerts. Featuring soprano Ariel Rose Bodman, violinist Filip Pogády, conductor Kyle Ritenauer, and composer-violinist Fernando Arroyo García-Lascurain.
“We live in fear of other people’s judgment—it really doesn’t mean that much, as long as we’re doing our job and touching people.”
Cosmo Buono of the Bradshaw and Buono Competition discusses the world of managers and marketing, finding a niche, avoiding disappointment and tunnel vision, and the dangers of perfection.
“Live performance and recording are not even the same art—nobody knows better than me how fake CDs are.”
This episode begins with a recording session of Schubert’s A-flat Impromptu D935. Patrych discusses the changing world of recording and the prolific underground world of pirate recordings. He also sets the record straight about a scandal at Carnegie Hall on November 1, 2006 that was reported on in the New York Times.
“I don’t believe in time zones.”
Award-winning young American cellist Joshua Roman discusses the challenges of a musician's travel, health and injuries, the world of competitions, and the role of mental practice. The episode concludes with host and guest in a rehearsal of Schumann's "Five Pieces in Folk Style."