Violinists (and husband and wife) Nathan Cole and Akiko Tarumoto give you an inside look at performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Each week brings new repertoire, conductors, soloists... and new stories from their life-long love affair with classical music, the violin, and their family.
Music or muddle: Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony
Shostakovich had never had it worse: his latest opera, Lady Macbeth, had been panned. And not just by an ordinary critic: Joseph Stalin himself had paid a visit to the opera house. The official Soviet opinion of the work? "Muddle instead of music."
Shostakovich therefore pulled his Symphony No. 4 out of rehearsals and regrouped. He determined to write "a Soviet artist's response to justified criticism," a work that would become his Symphony No. 5.
Join me and Akiko as we talk Shostakovich, Saint-Saens, and Francisco Coll, along with guest artists Gustavo Gimeno, conductor, and Javier Perianes, piano!
The best cadenza ever? Prokofiev and Ma Vlast
Have you ever "discovered" a major piece, live, in the concert hall? Nathan remembers sitting right next to a big star performing Prokofiev's second Piano Concerto, with its massive and breathtaking first-movement cadenza. Then he and Akiko talk about sitting right next to another big star this week for the same piece.
They also reminisce about those stacks of records, cassette tapes, and ultimately CDs from which they learned all the repertoire.
Finally, they debate the categories for this week's rep: Qigang Chen's l'eloignement, Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 in g minor, and Smetana's Ma Vlast, with Bezhod Abduraimov as piano soloist and Xian Zhang conducting.
Stand Partners “Four” Life
This week's landmark episode marks the return of Akiko, plus a pair of fellow stand partners for life: violists Kate Reddish and Eric Lea! We discuss the slings and arrows of a career in music, what you can and can't get from music school, what it's like to be part of a string-playing pair, and much more.
Kate Reddish is a Los Angeles-based freelance violist. She enjoys a busy and varied career subbing with nearly every major orchestra in the Southern California area, performing as a chamber musician, and teaching and coaching individuals and groups. Kate can be heard on hundreds of film scores, albums, and TV shows, and has appeared on television and on film.
Kate comes from a “numbers” family: her father was a tax attorney and CPA and her mother a bookkeeper; her sister followed that path to work as a bookkeeper and financial analyst. Meanwhile, Kate, who started playing the viola through the public school system in Riverside, was certain that a life in music was the only life she wanted.
Kate earned her BA and MM from UCLA (go Bruins!), studying with former Los Angeles Philharmonic principal violist Evan Wilson. Feeling nothing like a Master, she then trotted across town to USC (go Trojans!) to complete an artist’s diploma with eminent pedagogue Donald McInnes. Since finishing her formal schooling, Kate has also participated in intensive courses with Burton Kaplan, Rob Knopper, Noa Kageyama, and Nathan Cole.
In June of 2021, Kate started her own business, KMR Creative, consulting for online educators and coaches. She currently works closely with Nathan Cole to design and implement his many online offerings and to build the communities that rise up around those courses.
Kate enjoys yoga and dance, good food and wine, card games and crossword puzzles, and creating order out of chaos. She currently lives in South Pasadena with her husband, violist and composer Eric Lea, and their sweet kitty, Misha.
Eric Lea is a reasonably tall violist. He has a BM from the University of Arizona and an MM from USC (see above re: Trojans), both in viola performance. He has subbed with many symphonies and played and recorded with many bands. As the violist for the band Get Set Go, his playing could be barely discerned by millions under snappy dialogue in several episodes of Grey's Anatomy, and he has toured Japan with songwriter/producer Mike Viola (coincidence?), with whom he and Kate recorded an album called Acousto de Perfecto. He fancies himself as something of a composer now, and his song cycles can be heard at ericlea.bandcamp.com.
Travis Maril, Violympic Champion
I'm joined in the backyard this week by Violympian and VMC participant Travis Maril, as well as his fellow USC alum and my Director of Operations, Kate Reddish. Our wide-ranging conversation includes no small measure of pedagogical geekery, as well as such diverse topics as Tae Kwon Do bribery and Michael Jordan's private Space Jam gym.
Violist Travis Maril is String Coordinator and Viola Faculty at San Diego State University (SDSU), where he has taught since 2007. At SDSU he also serves as Co-Director of the Community Music School’s String Academy, a pre-college program for young musicians, which he co-founded in 2012.
As violist with the Hyperion Quartet, Travis was a prizewinner at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Over the years he has collaborated in chamber music projects with principal players of the LA Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Miró Quartet, and Brooklyn Rider, among others. Locally he performs frequently with Camarada, Art of Elan, and with the San Diego Symphony.
Inspired by the Violympics in 2021, Travis started String Gym, his own online program for violinists and violists. Through String Gym, Travis works with players across the US, Australia, Germany and Taiwan. From time to time he also writes about music-related topics on his blog, String Theory. You can also follow Travis on Instagram.
If you’re interested in joining us for the fifth iteration of VMC, starting in 2023, you can find out more information here, and apply here.
Kerstin Tenney and the Light Album
Nathan, Kerstin and Kate (and Kate's SPFL Eric) in Pasadena
Today I'm talking with Kerstin Tenney, VMC violinist par excellence, as well as my Director of Operations, violist (and VMC alumna par equally excellence) Kate Reddish. We talk about Kerstin's musical education, her experience in the Virtuoso Master Course, and the new album she's recorded with Simon Kiln and the English Symphony Orchestra!
Violinist Kerstin Tenney finished recording her first solo violin album in England earlier this year, and is now preparing for its release in the early months of 2023. Her 16-track album, Light, features four newly commissioned pieces, and 8 new arrangements written specifically for this project. Following a lifelong desire to learn, Kerstin has worked with Nathan Cole in every iteration of his Virtuoso Master Course. She plays with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, does freelance work, and has a private violin studio, teaching in person and online. In her teaching, along with focusing on the musical and technical aspects involved with playing, Kerstin incorporates the mental in addressing thoughts and fears that inhibit progression, the physiological and anatomical components of playing in understanding the structure of the body and how this affects one's playing, and looks at the role the neurological system has in playing the violin.
Kerstin can be found on her website at http://www.kerstintenney.com, her newsletter at https://bit.ly/KerstinsNewsletter, and on Instagram at @kerstintenney.
If you're interested in joining us for the fifth iteration of VMC, starting in 2023, you can find out more information here, and apply here.
Tour-ready? Copland 3, Mahler 1, and more
It's tour time! While you're listening, we'll be flying, driving, and playing our way through Boston, New York, Mexico City, and Guanajuato. So to kick off the trip, let's talk tour repertoire and hand out some awards.
Tour rep includes Copland's Third Symphony and Mahler 1 as the "big pieces", plus violin concertos from Arturo Marquez and Gabriela Ortiz. Which composers would we love to have dinner with? What are the scariest moments in these concerts? And what was the most memorable on-stage exchange during tour prep?
Secrets of the Symphony!
A wonderful insider’s perspective of life as a professional musician shared by this phenomenal husband and wife duo, both violinists in the LA Phil. Nathan’s organized, logical approach is well-balanced by Akiko’s hilarious, dry sense of humor. One suggestion to make this great podcast even better: would it be possible to interweave relevant musical excerpts into the background? For example, during the discussion of “goosebump moments,” how cool would it be if we could hear that same orchestral moment swell up in the soundtrack and give us listeners actual goosebumps?
So glad it’s coming back
Nathan and Akiko are a delight to listen to, and I look forward to the upcoming season learning more about their lives as violinists!
This is a wonderful podcast. Highly recommended!
If you have any interest in how an American symphony orchestra works this is the podcast for you. They are wonderfully reasonable and candid about the life of a symphony player. Highly recommended!