Summer Performance and Changes

Summer Performance and Changes

Summer Performance and Changes 1
Ivana Carlson on Violin and Michael Drusdow on Piano perform Gershwin’s Prelude #1 & #2.

A huge shout-out to my summer chamber partners violinist Ivana Carlson and cellist Carlene Soderberg. We had joined the legions of musicians whose summer programs fell victim to COVID, and so finding ways to partner to perform chamber music became our top priority. Everyone worked very hard and showed great flexibility resulting in two very successful experiences!

Carlene is my Subito Duo partner and our summer work (Shostakovitch) can be found here on my site. Also, I am very pleased to announce that the video we produced has led to an offer of a live online solo performance for Carlene in August!

Ivana and I go a bit further back, having toured together in Cincinnati several years ago performed at the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Ronald McDonald House, and participated in a master class at the Willis Steinway Gallery under current Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Stefani Matsuo and her husband, CSO cellist Hero Matsuo. Now moving on to college, Ivana herself just recently ended her tenure as concertmaster of the Carolina Youth Symphony Orchestra, having won among many other awards the Senior Concerto Competition (Saint-Saens Concerto no. 3) and sitting as concertmaster at Carnegie Hall in 2019 during her last season with her orchestra. Her violin studies will continue at Belmont this fall under Elizabeth Small.

The opportunity to work with two high-powered chamber players was exactly what I needed heading now into my sophomore year at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) under Dmitri Vorobiev. For me, regardless of whether I was playing the violin, the piano, or both (I am exclusively a pianist now!) the summer was always chamber time as I was freed from orchestral commitments and could focus solely on this aspect of my musicianship. The exposure inherent in chamber playing demands a precision of repertoire mastery, performance, and collaboration that can too easily slide by if hidden in a large section of identical instruments, and so this is why the highest orchestral chairs are typically occupied by phenomenal chamber players.

I was introduced to this concept around age twelve during my first summer at Chamber Music on the Hill (CMOTH). It was the patient mentorship of Karen Collins and Sarah Johnson that elevated my level of playing so that I could credibly participate in a chamber group at this level; mostly what I remember about that first year is feeling completely lost in this new venue. But the final performance pulled together and I was hooked and have never looked back! My acceptance to Meadowmount this summer as only one of a handful of pianists was a validating, culminating moment for me showing that hard work really does pay off, and I will be forever grateful to CMOTH (also canceled this year unfortunately) for setting me on the right path.

Hence now the absolute conviction that summer is for intense chamber work despite the fact that I am no longer an orchestral musician. With Ivana and Carlene I have been fortunate enough to find two colleagues who share that conviction and are willing to move heaven and earth to make the experience work. Here’s hoping that these turn into lifelong collaborations!


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