The Kennedy Center and Music Everywhere

What an intense week this has been! Performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, a program of Old and New with my trio, The Weiss-Kaplan-Newman Trio. The evening included two masterpieces, Beethoven’s so-called “Ghost” Trio, and Schubert’s sublime B-flat Trio. This particular Schubert happens to be the first chamber music work I studied very deeply and performed with wonderful colleagues – that was during my first summer at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont, while still an undergraduate student. The other works on our Kennedy Center program were two new pieces – “Piano Trio” by Jennifer Higdon, and “Juxt-Opposition”, which was written for us by our cellist, Clancy Newman. It is definitely a special process performing a new work with the composer as a member of the group. The work tends to evolve and change while rehearsing, and it did all the way until we walked on stage! Here’s the Washington Post review that came out following our concert: “Trio Triumphs at Terrace”

I absolutely love interacting with the audience after a performance, and we had a chance to do that here, signing CDs in the lobby. I find it refreshing and also very important to hear impressions from people who are not professional musicians, people who go to concerts to be nourished, to be moved and inspired, hopefully even to be elevated to some level beyond that of daily life.  As I write this I’m thinking of one woman who came to the CD signing and said how grateful she was.  And she had such an amazing glow on her face – she clearly experienced something really special listening to all this wonderful music, was transformed by it and had a magnificent evening. I was in turn moved by how music can speak so deeply to so many people, whether or not they have ever actually studied music seriously.

A week earlier, I was in Oregon, presenting an outreach concert for young high-school students following a recital there. There too, I felt such a sense of joy sharing what I do with young people, most of whom had never heard classical music before. Combining playing with conversations, I was really surprised by how engrossed the kids were, and how they were able to connect with some challenging repertoire on first hearing.  Again, hearing their thoughts, young non-musicians reacting to music intuitively, was a reassuring experience – yes, great music can indeed reach people, and it isn’t going to disappear even if the “industry” is suffering….

By the way, here’s a really fun article by another non-musician. This relates to the trio’s new Brahms and Smetana recording.  I really love this – it is as important to me as any official “review”: Two Piano Trios to Research by

And – one last thing…: If you are in New York City, this Thursday, 1/26 I’m giving a Masterclass for NYU’s Artist MasterClass Series. This will be an all-Beethoven class, free admission, at the Steinhardt School of Music, 75 3rd Avenue North. I’m really looking forward to working with these students – don’t be surprised if you hear something about it on some future podcasts!

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