I am very happy to be part of Carnegie Hall’s American Mavericks series. Maverick composers are historically the composers that we now look back on and view as the “great” composers: Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartók (the list should continue, but there is not enough space) were all iconoclastic, maverick composers of their times. I am proud and honored to be alive in a time where I have the chance to perform and know some of our greatest American maverick composers.
John Adams is the ultimate American maverick composer. His music crystallizes what it is to be American. In a voice that is uniquely his own, his music is individual, yet all-embracing; intimate, but also raucous. For me, Road Movies evokes in sound the vast American landscape into which I was born, and that—with its boundless dimensions—has always piqued my imagination.
My first encounter with Lou Harrison’s music was through John Adams when we played Lou Harrison’s Concerto in Slendro together at the opening concert of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. I began to search out more of Lou’s music, and eventually found and fell in love with his Grand Duo for violin and piano. Although Grand Duo lives within the perimeters of traditional instruments of the violin and piano, its musical soul lives in the fringe. The work embodies the American idea of multi-culturalism and reaches throughout the world’s cultures from east to west, ultimately creating an enveloping work that ends with one of my favorite polkas of all time!
I have known Jennifer Higdon since my days as a student at the Curtis Institute of Music, and String Poetic was the first of two works that Jennifer Higdon wrote for me. Each movement of String Poetic was inspired by her own poetic verses. String Poetic ultimately ignited a desire in me to be part of the creation of works that would take me out of my abstract world of non-programmatic music into the world of language.
In 2011, the Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned Missy Mazzoli to write Dissolve, O My Heart, which is inspired by Bach’s D-minor Chaconne for solo violin. Although the title comes from Bach’s St. John Passion, the opening chord and musical weight of the piece comes from Bach’s Chaconne. Missy takes the idea (and the historical weight) of the opening d-minor chord and spins it into a musical web all her own.
I have been incredibly lucky to perform and know some of our great American maverick composers. All of the compositions being performed today are works close to my heart, and all of them have been written in my lifetime. As I believe art and music are dialogues and reflections about and of our society, I wanted to create a program that encompasses the musical influences that have inspired and shaped me as a musician. I hope you enjoy listening to this program as much as I enjoy playing it!