February 5, 2014
During the weekend of February 22nd, Danielle and Tiffany will meet Rebecca in Florida to make music with other members of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra. Sound Impact is privileged to work with such generous, adventurous and gifted musicians.
Violinist Eliza Cho is the Associate Concertmaster of the Ash Lawn Opera Orchestra and a violinist with the Sarasota Opera orchestra, Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Ballet orchestra, and the Reading Symphony Orchestra.
Costa Rican native Elizandro Garcia-Montoya is principal clarinetist of the Sarasota Opera and the New Hampshire Music Festival. He has also performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, Charleston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera and Jacksonville Symphony.
Matthew Roitstein is principal flutist of the Sarasota Opera Orchestra and was a previous member of the New World Symphony and the Honolulu Symphony and has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, and Houston Symphony.
Following is an interview conducted by Rebecca Jackson. Read on to learn more about our new musical partners.
Tell us a little about your background. How did you get into music?
EC: My memory is convinced that I saw a violin while window shopping and begged my mother to let me learn, but according to my mother, it was her idea to get me started. She’s probably right.
GC: As a child I always played with music. I use to sing and play the guitar and the recorder. I would play by ear, imitating any melody which caught my attention. Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky was one of my favorite to imitate. The harp came as an unexpected encounter in my life when I was about twelve years old.
EGM: I was born in San Ramon, Costa Rica, a small town in the central valley one hour northwest of San Jose. I started playing the clarinet at age nine taking my first private lessons from my father who was the band director at one of San Ramon’s high schools. The following year I enrolled at the University of Costa Rica pre-college program and for the National Symphony of Costa Rica Youth Program.
MR: I was raised in a musical family. My mother is a flutist, and my dad is a jazz pianist and composer. My siblings and I all took piano lessons when we were very young, and because of my mother we were all exposed to the flute all our lives as well. I took to the flute quite naturally and enjoyed playing it. My twin brother, on the other hand, was so sick of hearing so much flute in the house that he wanted to go as far away as possible–he’s now a professional bass player!
What is your process when tackling new works?
EC: “Slow and steady always wins the race.”
GC: I usually become obsessed with a new piece to learn. I listen to multiple versions of it. I analyze the score and imagine the sound I would like associated to different passages. Then I dissemble the piece into little sections and start working on them very slowly. Especially, I try to find the best fingering which will allow me the maximum degree of comfort and expressiveness. In playing the harp, using the most appropriate fingering is an art of its own. The instrument is not user friendly and most of the time you need to figure out a way to play a passage. It is like solving a puzzle, finding the perfect combination in a specific finger dance. Most of all I sing all the lines and always commit to playing the harp as if I were a singer. When working on a new piece I always look forward to the day in which I suddenly realize that the piece is not foreign anymore, that it has become a part of myself.
EGM: I first go through the piece and practice any technical demands that the work requires. However, I find most important trying to understand what the composer is trying to express or convey through their own musical language so that the piece becomes accessible for me as a performer and the audience.
Who has been your most influential musical hero?
EC: I’m not sure if I can pinpoint one musical hero, but there is a live recording on YouTube of Renee Fleming singing “Song to the Moon” from Dvorak’s Rusalka at Avery Fischer Hall in NYC that I like to listen to and be reminded of how true musicality should be sung. All instrumentalists strive to “sing” in the same way.
GC: Johan Sebastian Bach is the reason I like music so much. I think that when I first listened to his music when I was a child I felt such pleasure and wonder that I fell in love with him right away. There are so many wonderful artist who have inspired me immensely in my musical and otherwise journey. I adore the voice therefore singers of any music genre that I like tend to become my heroes. Lately Diana Damrau is one of my muses. Her queen of the night aria in the royal opera house magic flute production in London is one of the most inspiring performances of all time. I also adore Bjork for being such an
expressive and unconventional artist. Maria Callas is another of my favorites. I like artists who use expressiveness at all costs, musicians who are willing to take risks, who become what they play.
EGM: One of the most influential musical heroes in my life is Pablo Casals. I feel a connection with his music philosophy and how it is applied to life in general. Casals had an immense love for humanity and always wanted music to be a driving force behind trying to achieve the highest spiritual and humanistic ideals.
MR: While I have MANY musical heroes, I would say that the most influential ones are those in my family. My parents, flutist Rosy Sackstein and pianist David Roitstein, not only raised me to be the person I am today but also gave me the entire foundation of my musical education. My grandmother, pianist Rosalina Sackstein, is the musical matriarch in the family and has always inspired and supported me as well as the hundreds of students who have passed through her studio in Miami. My brother and sister, bassist Andrew and singer Alina, also never cease to inspire me with their unique artistry. We are all constantly learning from one another and love to collaborate together.
Why is music important for our world?
EC: It is an expressive universal language that can unite all people and countries together without words.
GC: Because love is essential to our world and music is another way to call love.
EGM: As Casals says, “Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.” Music is a form of expression that connects us spiritually.
MR: Music is a reason to love and appreciate being alive. It is something that brings indescribable joy and meaning to practically everyone on earth in some form or another, and anything that positively impacts the world that broadly and deeply is too important to live without.
If you think of your favorite teacher, what made them a great teacher?
EC: My favorite teacher, Mark Zinger, believed in me more than I believed in myself during my high school and undergraduate years. He challenged me every week to play better than my best and was extremely supportive and patient when I felt I was at my worst. He always knew what was best for me, and never failed at being wrong. I still trust him entirely with my life.
GC: That they recognize themselves as a facilitator, somebody with the unique gift of being able to unfold and reveal their students’ true potential, with a nurturing attitude.
EGM: Some of the most influential teachers in my life have taught me to make a change in the world through our love and devotion to our music making. Music is an expression that happens in the framework of time, for this reason each moment becomes a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again.
Do you play any other instruments?
EC: Does the jaw harp count?
GC: I have played the guitar in several performances of Barber of Seville and the mandolin in Don Giovanni. I sing and write songs.
EGM: I play all instruments of the clarinet family and occasionally play the saxophone.
MR: I also play a little piano.
What is the favorite place you have visited?
EC: I have been to many different countries, but my favorite musical place has been Berlin, Germany. I love the audience involvement and appreciation given at classical concerts. Concerts are usually sold out no matter the prestige of the group, the halls are smaller for a more intimate experience between audience and musicians, and numerous encores are always requested by the audience after the performance. The experience is truly rewarding and the audience never wants to leave.
GC: Istanbul was magic.
EGM: One of the favorite place I have visited is Brazil. It was my first trip as a musician at age 13, and it was after this trip that I decided I wanted to become a professional musician.
Who is your favorite visual artist and why?
EC: Pablo Picasso, especially his paintings from his blue period. In general, his paintings stir many mixed emotions within me and questions that can now only be answered by my imagination. There is something so intriguing and mysterious about his doleful subjects that draws me into staring at a painting for a long period of time and leaving me wanting to know more of the view point from Pablo Picasso’s perspective.
GC: As it happens with music composers as well, I don’t have a single favorite one. There are too many wonderfully different artists. I can tell you about a single work of art which amazes me: Apollo and Dafne, the statue by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
EGM: Vincent VanGogh is one of my favorite visual artists. He was able to express through a unique style the hardships and ideals he had of the world. His expression was original and the devotion he had for painting inspires me to continue pursuing my own ideals.