A conversation with Dani

For our 2014 Costa Rica tour, we are absolutely thrilled to be joined by violinist Daniel Andai.  Dani is not only an incredible violinist but a passionate music educator, as Artistic Director of the Kilington Music Festival and violin professor at the University of Texas in Edinburg.


Tell us a little about your background. How did you get into music?

I got into music as a young boy when my parents gave me a toy violin as a gift.  It seemed to have been my favorite toy because I showed enough enthusiasm for it that my parents felt compelled to start me on violin lessons.  Apparently the hard work I put into the instrument was paying off because I started winning competitions, leading the local youth orchestras as a concertmaster and traveling to perform.  I was fascinated by expanding my knowledge of instruments and learned to play the cello and piano as well.  By the time I was in high school, I was being invited to different parts of the world, as far east as Russia, to perform as a soloist with orchestras.  By the time I earned a doctorate degree from graduate school, I had performed as a soloist, chamber musician, clinician and concertmaster of professional orchestras in over 50 countries, on 5 continents, and over 30 States in the U.S. and won violin professor positions at universities in Texas and Florida.

You are the Artistic Director of the Killington Music Festival.  Can you talk about your experience there? 

Being the Artistic Director of a music festival is a highly rewarding position.  I am responsible for unifying a vision of educational standards and performance goals for interested students, faculty artists and audience members, so that they have a memorable experience. Managing all the artistic needs of the 32 year old festival is particularly meaningful to me because I am an Alumni of the festival.

Why is music education important to the younger generations?

Education in general is one of the most powerful tools our world has in shaping its future.  Experiencing high quality education permits a student to meet or exceed their potential.  Music education in particular offers many benefits that students can use in their musical and social development. While these benefits are too many to describe in detail here, as a violin professor, I have witnessed first hand the power that music has had on students that have permitted them to take control of many other aspects of their lives.

Can you tell us about a rewarding experience you’ve had working with underserved communities? 

I recently created and directed a project to link music composition, paintings and a symphony orchestra to young students from an under-served area of Miami.  The students’ creative and inquisitive minds yielded astounding results.  In several sessions over a period of a few months, my team and I witnessed how this project gave students an opportunity to express their inner love of music, art and poetry, regardless of their skill level, that resulted in 5 symphonic world premieres performed by The Miami Symphony Orchestra during one of their subscription series.  It was moving for everyone involved, the orchestra, the audience, the parents and most of all, the young and talented students!

What is your process when tackling new works?

Tackling new works can seem like a daunting experience if one isn’t used to the process.  The first thing I like to do is acquaint myself with the work as thoroughly as possible.  I like to have an idea of the style it should be played in, find different sections that appear throughout the work and also understand the technical demands of the piece.  Once this is in order, I work on combining the style with the technique, to achieve the sound and character I feel the piece is asking for.  Only then do I decide on the bowing and fingering decisions I’ll use to achieve the character and sound I seek.

Who has been your most influential musical hero?

This is a challenging question to answer because I have learned valuable lessons from so many people I have encountered over my lifetime that have contributed to my musical development.  Sometimes I wish I could meet some of the the composers whose music I interpret, to thank them for their inspiration, and other times, thank those individuals who shared their wisdom to help me nurture my musical voice.

Why is music important for our world?

Music is all around us.  We experience some aspect of music, sometimes without realizing it, in just about everything we do.  Everyone has the power to connect with rhythm and pitch at some level.  What is often times challenging is the organization of these elements to achieve expressive results, to be effectively shared with others. Music allows people to express feelings when words would fail to do so, while it is a tool that can also be used to enhance feelings when words are available.  Having the ability to coordinate pitch and rhythm to match an emotion helps develop ones brain and motor skills, in addition to being able to communicate using one of the world’s most universal languages.  It is also one of the biggest promoters of peace that I have ever encountered.  Imagine, 40 nations can be represented in a symphony orchestra to work towards a common goal – to experience music together!

If you think of your favorite teacher, what made them a great teacher?

My favorite teachers had something in common: they were talented and deeply cared about music and the transference of that music to me.  I also think that in order to be a great teacher, the student needs to be inspired and ready to learn.

Who is your favorite visual artist and why?

Lately I have been focusing my attention to the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer.  I am fascinated by his techniques and possible methods of painting.  He seemed to be a visionary, and I appreciate that.


Hailed by The New York Times as an “Exemplary Leader” for leading members of the New York Philharmonic and the Manhattan School of Music in Carnegie Hall, violinist Daniel Andai has shared his versatile artistry as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, concertmaster, conductor and recording artist in major concert venues across five continents, the Middle East, the Caribbean and over 30 United States.

Daniel Andai is concertmaster, frequent soloist and guest conductor of The Miami Symphony Orchestra (MISO). He was also concertmaster and frequent soloist of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas in New York with whom he recorded the Billboard’s highly rated SONY Classical CD’s and made televised solo appearances for a crowd of millions during Mexico’s Bicentennial celebrations at the Angel de Independencia. He has held concertmaster positions with orchestras in Mexico, Brazil, Switzerland, and France, performed in the sections of the New York Philharmonic and the Miyazaki Festival Orchestra in Japan.  Daniel Andai is the Artistic Director of the Killington Music Festival in Vermont and violin professor at the University of Texas in Edinburg.  Previously he served as visiting professor and chair of the Marialice Shivers Endowment in Fine Arts at the University of Texas in Edinburg and on faculties at Miami-Dade College and New World School of the Arts. He earned a doctorate degree from the University of Miami, the masters and professional studies degree from the Manhattan School of Music and the bachelor degree cum laude from Lynn University Conservatory of Music.


If you would like to help support our Costa Rica tour, please visit Sound Impact’s KICKSTARTER page for more information.  



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