Winner of 2000 International Web Concert Hall
Tell us about your musical background...
I started playing the violin at the age of five. Was playing the piano a little since
three or four, but not by much. Basically, the start of the violin was at the suggestion
of my mother, who observed my obsession with the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (listening to
it over and over) Now, I teach at the Mannes College of Music as violin faculty, I
graduated from the Juilliard School, and from the Curtis Institute of Music.
MOL: Was either of your parents a musician?
My mother wanted to be a lyric soprano, and received professional training, but became a
medical doctor, instead.
MOL: Who are your teachers? And when you recall some of your teachers what are the
first and best qualities you remember?
My biggest influences are; Dorothy DeLay, Ivan Galamian, Josef Gingold, and Felix Galimir.
Other teachers include Jascha Brodsky, and Sally Thomas. Dorothy DeLay, I think is a
genius in deciphering the undecipherable. She is master at pinpointing exactly what will
make things better, in an explainable way, where Galamian, Gingold, and Galimir often
relied more on intuition. While intuition is an invaluable instrument to have and to use,
sometimes they can be unreliable, and blocked off, if there are some negative factors,
such as physical misunderstanding of the techinique, or mistaken analysis of the music.
Ivan Galamian, and Josef Gingold on the other hand, strengthened my intuitive
musicianship, sense of style as well as technique, and overall formative training.
Galimir, enabled me to understand the mind of different composers, using different musical
MOL: How did your teacher influence you as a musician?
Gingold, is probably the biggest influence on me as a musician, based on his love, and
unending enthusiasm for music. His way of being deeply influenced me in appreciating the
value of being a musician.
MOL: How did your friend, parents, etc. influence you as a musician?
As a matter of fact, my mother's overzealous enthusiasm turned me off as a musician, often
confusing me about whether it is my choice to be a musician, or hers. It was only after
looking at myself about what music and being a musician is all about for me, and finding
answers, I was convinced to have chosen to be a musician myself.
MOL: Do you teach? If so, where?
I teach both privately, as well as at the Mannes College of Music, Columbia Teacher's
College, and the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory, but mostly at the Mannes College, and
MOL: Tell us about your teaching methods? What do you mostly emphasize to your
students and why?
I teach a person to become a well rounded musician more than anything else. The most
important thing is to judge what aspect of being a musician needs nurturing at a given
moment, and concentrate on it, until another aspect becomes important. For example, when
they are young, their love of music, and technical development would be important, soon,
their sense of
responsibility and commitment would be important, then soon sophisticated understanding of
the music and musicianship could become the focus, then it might become developing a stage
personality. I do not have a method per se, because I base my teaching based on the
student's personality, receptiveness, and the need.
MOL: Do you practice what you preach to your
I do my best to do so.
MOL: Do you have a practicing method you follow everyday?
The word is more of "try to". I try to balance between keeping and advancing my
facilities, my musical sophistication, as well as repertoire.
MOL: How much do you practice daily before a performance?
If I include mental work away from the instrument, 6-7 hours a day. Strictly with the
violin, it is less.
MOL: How much or often do you practice basic (tone production, breathing, etc.)?
I usually combine basics with the scales, and etudes totalling approximately 2-3 hours.
Basics could be things such as tone production, shifting, articulation, etc to scales
involving all intervals, double, triple, and quadruple stops, various shiftings, etc. the
etudes would be combination of
Kreutzer, Paganini, Ernst, and Ysaye
MOL: How do you select repertoire for your recital?
It is usually done after consutation with my usual pianist David Oei. Often, I would have
a center piece or two, and build around them.
MOL: How do you select repertoire for your concerto performance?
The orchestra usually selects for me.
MOL: How many concerts do you have a year?
MOL: What period music do you enjoy playing most and why?
I enjoy all periods, but I do have to admit, less on the avant garde.
MOL: What do you hope to accomplish as a musician?
To become a performer who can transport the listener to the imaginary, artistic alternate
world for the time that the listener is listening to me, and to influence others to
understand and appreciate the possibilities of the music.
MOL: How many different concertos do you have that are ready to play within three
Twenty or so.
MOL: Do you like any other forms of art? such as painting? a favorite writer?
I appreciate all other forms including painting, sculpture, books, ballet, or even martial
arts. I think it is an incredible form of art.
MOL: What do you like to read? And why?
Psychologically intriguing writings showing different sides of human nature.
MOL: What are some of your recent reading?
Plato's Symposium, because I just performed the Bernstein's Serenade based on it.
MOL: What do you do for hobby, if any?
TV, chess, table tennis, martial arts
MOL: What do you hope to achieve ten years from now in your music career?
Exactly what I am doing, but more-playing concerts, and teaching.
MOL: In your opinion, what are the characteristics
of a good performer?
The ability to draw the listener to the world that the performer him/herself is
in while performing.
MOL: How do you judge a good performance?
How much I was moved by the playing
MOL: Do you believe a performer must attend conservatory? What is your opinion on
Not necessarily. A good performer could easily come out of a liberal arts college as well.
However, the general interest, and atmosphere of the school is important. If one is
surrounded by people who can never understand the time one has to have for oneself, to
practice, it is not an environment condusive to producing a good musician.
MOL: I think we need to wrap up at this point.
So on behalf of MusicalOnline, we would like to thank you for your time and we wish all