As Eric and I enter our twelfth season as musical (and domestic!) partners, we have quite a few concerts under our belt. Our house concert series is no longer just a venture to produce ourselves and our amazing colleagues, but it is happily morphing into a career enhancement center for young musicians. It is not enough just to play your instrument well to become a professional chamber musician. It requires a very broad ranging skill set.
When I was Anner Bylsma’s au pair in Holland many years ago, it was the observing of his behavior with his agent, around concerts, and with his colleagues that trained me to do what I do now. This is not to say I didn’t learn a tremendous amount in the cello lessons themselves, but it was this “apprenticeship” that gave me the tools I needed to go into the world of music and establish myself there.
Now when I program the series, I keep in mind the influence of the master performers on the apprentices. It turns out that all my favorite performers are also amazing teachers. In this second season of mentoring the apprentices, it is striking how every single performer is not only enthusiastic to coach as well as perform, they are eager to do it, even with full-time professorships at major conservatories and brutal performing schedules. Music is handed down to the next generation through people. It is this human exchange, not only in performing, but in teaching, that brings it alive. And practicing performing is also a very important component to becoming a professional performer. This requires many times on many different kinds of stages to hone this skill. There is no other way to practice performing other than by performing!
This season we have guitarist Marc Teicholz performing in a duo with Ian Swensen, violin. Although a guitarist, Marc has always been Eric’s and my go-to set of ears when we are preparing a program for a concert. Perhaps because he was trained in a very different kind of repertoire, he has a very fresh and inspiring take on interpretations of standard chamber music repertoire that has proven invaluable to our rehearsal process over the years. I am thrilled to share his honed insightfulness about music and life with our apprentices this year.
Ian Swensen is a born player, and as it turns out, the most dedicated teacher I know. He is tireless with his students at San Francisco Conservatory and Sacramento State University, spending long hours with each one until progress is made. He never gives up, and his knowledge and inspiration are generously given to the students in a seemingly unlimited way.
Phoebe Carrai is another dedicated teacher performing on the series. She taught at the Conservatory in Berlin for many years before joining the Juilliard faculty — bringing her very in depth and specialized knowledge of early music practice to younger generations. She has many followers and disciples. For the apprentices, as Kenneth Weiss was our previous season, she is an important liaison to possible future study at the esteemed Historic Performance Department at The Juilliard School.
Another ongoing project for the season will be the performance of the Quartet for the End of Time — both by our apprentices, and later in the season by The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. The local Left Coast will be working with them all Fall on this to get it ready for their December performance.