What do you remember about your first performance with the Pacifica Quartet?
Ha! My terrible review! It was at the University of Chicago and we played Schumann’s Piano Quintet. The reviewer, a student, wrote that my open ‘C’ string in the second movement honked so loudly that you could probably hear it out on 57th Street! My colleagues tried to hide the review to spare my feelings!
What is your secret for long-term success in a quartet?
Staying in it! 99.9999% of string quartets just call it quits because it is easier to do that than to sort out your issues. We’re now among the very oldest of the regularly touring string quartets with almost all its founding members. That counts for something…
How do you divide quartet-related responsibilities among your colleagues?
We rotate a little bit, but basically everyone has an area of quartet business and can make basic decisions independently within that domain. It streamlines the operational conversations. Every year poses new challenges and we’ve had to adapt a lot over the years. It’s a constant learning process.
What is currently on your iPod’s most-played list?
Podcasts. I devour them. This American Life, Radiolab, 99% Invisible, Wiretap, Love + Radio, The Moth, The New Yorker: Fiction, Fresh Air. It’s hard to stay on top of current episodes but walking to school and long drives certainly help.
Do you have any pre-concert good luck rituals?
I don’t really believe in luck, but I do usually drink tea before I perform to sit down and try to forget the mundane aspects of the day and focus. Focus and presence of mind is probably one of the hardest aspects of performance, especially when coupled with a busy touring schedule.
What is the most memorable experience you have had onstage with the Pacifica Quartet?
Unfortunately the most memorable moments are usually the most embarrassing ones, like when you turn a page and the music is missing, or you start by playing the wrong piece. Silly mistakes are prone to happen. Happily, we are fortunate enough to have plenty of rich musical experiences to make up for the embarrassing ones
If you were not a musician, what else could you imagine yourself doing?
“What if’s” are hard. I can’t really separate myself from my identity as a musician anymore. In high school I was interested in theoretical physics, but my brain has since atrophied…
How do you stay sane while traveling?
Any recommendations for finding good food on the road?
Follow Brandon. He often runs to every restaurant in sight and considers as many menu options as possible before making a choice. Besides that, I try to eat and drink local fare as much as possible.
Who do you most admire?
Karen Tuttle is my viola mother and role model. She was a pioneer in the 20th century viola revolution! She was deeply inspiring to me both musically and personally.
What is the best advice you have ever received?