What you are doing now? I perform actively as a freelance bassist on the East Coast and all over the country (and sometimes abroad!), with both orchestral and chamber music ensembles including American Ballet Theatre, New York Classical Players, Musica Sacra, Frisson Ensemble, New York Oratorio Society, and more. I’m also the General Manager of Decoda, the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall, an organization that is on the cutting edge of creative community engagement and chamber music. Decoda’s work with incarcerated composers in South Carolina was recently featured in The Washington Post.
Why TŌN? It was a very special experience to be in the inaugural class of TŌN and a part of something so innovative from the ground up. The program offered something beyond the typical graduate performance degree or training orchestra by inspiring us to think deeply about the role performing arts play in communities while also preparing us for the many demands of a professional orchestral career. TŌN and Maestro Botstein’s approach to programming is singular. I performed so many incredible pieces which I would never have gotten a chance to otherwise.
How did TŌN help to further your career goals? I knew early on in my studies that I wanted to be a professional musician and also understand everything that goes into making a performance possible behind the scenes. I find myself very fortunate to have a dynamic and varied performance career, all the while serving in a leadership role at a world class arts organization. The TŌN program provided the ideal groundwork for my vocation: in addition to orchestral and chamber music performance, it incorporates the full spectrum of professional development—grant writing, curatorial skills, public speaking, and teaching artistry—training us to consider the message our audience is receiving and how a concert program can inspire a deeper connection. I use these skills every day.
Describe a favorite concert, class, or other special memory from your time in TŌN. I had the chance to perform the famous Pulcinella bass solo with Maestro Gerard Schwarz at Town Hall in NYC my first year as part of TŌN’s Free Concert series. I will always remember the opportunity to play it somewhere besides a practice room and get a bow at the end of the concert! Also, the Bard Music Festival every summer is a joy. Each year you get to dive deep into the world of a different composer and the orchestral programs are innovative and eye-opening. (My favorite was Puccini and His World in 2016.)
No doubt, performing with TŌN as the soloist for Tan Dun’s Bass Concerto at Lincoln Center this past Sunday, with Maestro Tan Dun conducting, is also a concert I’ll never forget!
What does it mean to be a classical musician in the 21st century? Being a 21st century classical musician is exciting because more than ever before, you have to be able to create your own opportunities. Being in NYC, the amount of innovation and entrepreneurial drive in the classical music scene is exhilarating. It also means that you can’t just sit in your seat and play the notes, you need to engage with the issues and ideas that are captivating society and then find a way to bridge them to your music. I’m always amazed at how enthusiastic audiences are when a concert or program manages to express ideas beyond the music itself by sheer way of how each piece relates to another, and how they all connect to form a full experience. I think that’s the key.
What does TŌN mean to the world of classical music? A true classical music education means preparing pre-professional musicians not just for the current moment, but the future musical landscape. TŌN is guiding a generation of classical musicians to make a difference and chart new paths in a field that is very much in need of fresh perspectives.
What would you say to other young musicians who are considering TŌN? Apply! It’s an amazing program and I’ve made life-long friends and connections from it. Also, the Hudson Valley is gorgeous!