I’m excited to announce that I won the position of Principal Viola of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The audition was held in May 2018.
There were over 50 candidates, including members of the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Berlin Philharmonic, The Los Angeles Philharmonic and others. We were all heard in a completely “blind” audition, everyone played behind a screen and utmost care was taken to be as fair as possible. Personally, I am hardly delighted to have “beaten” anyone else, because this is not what the aforementioned day, and the process that preceded it, meant to me.
I had been playing in the Met for 12 years as Assistant Principal and had witnessed seasons of great success, as well as seasons of relative gloom and weakened morale. My sentiments followed a similar pattern. There were feelings of pressure I had to overcome in order to get to a point where I could deliver my optimal performance at the exact moment when it mattered the most. While it might seem that moving to a seat only a few feet away should be easier for someone like me, nothing could be further from the truth. I plan on writing about this in detail in a future blog post.
I have always loved the MET Orchestra, and the people in it remain some of the most dedicated, serious and inspiring musicians I have ever known, not to mention great human beings. It is my promise that I will help usher a new era of prosperity and artistic growth, at what is proving to be a pivotal moment in the company’s history. And last but not least, I will help the Met’s viola section, who are like family to me, enter a new and very different period, the one we all wanted for so long.
Thank you to all of you who have written or called about this. Couldn’t have done it without loved ones standing by me.
It is always a pleasure when someone other than your immediate family members love and appreciate the art you create. All jokes aside, I was very honored to receive accolades from The Strad Magazine, the UK-based monthly classical music magazine about string instruments, in their October 2017 issue. My album Sonata-Song received a glowing review, described as a “vivid, varied recital”, with the title piece by Aram Khatchaturian receiving a “definitive performance”. The reviewer has “nothing but praise for [the] tonally most alluring renditions of the pieces” and… so I don’t have to blush retelling these quotes, please read the rest here. And get yourself a copy!
Yours truly is making his conducting debut with New York’s Camerata Notturna on May 6, in Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 and Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with Sean Lee, soloist. That this is no ordinary group is demonstrated by the poster below – “Cameratans” are a bunch of very creative and interesting people. Buy tickets here.
I spent a week in Toronto as Guest Principal Viola of the Toronto Symphony in early April. And what a program it was – in addition to the excellent Joe Johnson, the orchestra’s Principal Cello, in R. Schumann’s Cello Concerto, we played Mahler’s Tenth Symphony. A serious piece for any viola section, what with its many, despairingly bleak statements made by the violas alone in the first movement, one of which opens the symphony, in strong contrast to the more luscious and positive rest of the movement. (Oh, and another fifty minutes of music after the first!) (Read More)
I was in Ottawa on March 13 to coach the violists and chamber music students of the University of Ottawa’s School of Music. It was great fun, I learned and was inspired by the students, the sense of the community was heartwarming, I got to see some old friends, and last but not least, I had lots of poutine!