Aaron Dworkin: Founder of The Sphinx Organization

Last fall, I spoke with Aaron Dworkin, who, at that time was Dean for the University of Michigan's College of Fine Arts. Though he has since stepped down from this position, Aaron Dworkin has still maintained an active hand in the cultivation of 21st century musicians. Dworkin is founder of The Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx was founded by Dworkin while he was an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. Its primary aim is to to address the stark under-representation of people of color in classical music.

Though I did not ask Mr. Dworkin as many questions as I would have liked about Sphinx, I did ask him his thoughts about concert collaboration and presentation, as well as how millennial musicians should prepare for a career in music. 

Read More
Lydia Sewell
Steve Hackman: Creator of Fuse concerts

Last March, I interviewed Steve Hackman, Creative Director of FUSE Concerts with the Pittsburgh Symphony. These FUSE concerts are truly different than any other "Classical" concert experience I have attended. In fact, the whole point is that these concerts are not "Classical" but rather a completely new genre of music. Featuring the music of both Tchaikovsky and Drake, Hackman beautifully fuses two seemingly opposite musical genres, and presents a concert experience that forces its audience to rethink their compartmentalization of musical genres. 

In this interview, I ask Hackman questions regarding his take on the future of symphony orchestras and classical music, and his thoughts on the curriculum for music conservatories in the US.

Read More
Tracy Silverman  

Tracy, like many others went on to study classical violin at Juilliard. But as a kid who grew up in the 1970’s with Rock’n’Roll, Tracy wanted to reflect the sound of his musical culture, which at that time, was the electric guitar. So, he created his own electric violin with Mark Wood, and became an electric violin soloist. In this interview, he talks about how he views classical music now, shares his thoughts on music education, and speaks about his electric violin gear.

Read More
Lydia SewellComment
Mike Block: The Ideal Musician of the 21st Century

Last year, I interviewed Mike Block, a pioneering cellist who has performed in unlikely venues, worked with YoYo Ma, and revolutionized the way cello is performed. I wanted to know how he went from studying at Juilliard as a classically trained musician to becoming a musical pioneer known for challenging the classical status quo. 

A bit about Mike:

MIKE BLOCK is a pioneering multi-style cellist, singer, composer, and educator, hailed by Yo-Yo Ma as the "ideal musician of the 21st-Century", and acclaimed by the NY Times for his "vital rich-hued solo playing". While still studying at the Juilliard School, Mike joined Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, with which he has toured extensively throughout the world, and won a 2017 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. Mike is also an active recording artist of original material, folk music, cross-cultural collaborations, and he has an ongoing project to record all of the Bach cello suites in acoustically glorious bathrooms of famous concert halls, via BachInTheBathroom.com. As one of the first wave of cellists to adopt a strap in order to stand and move while playing, Mike was the first standing cellist to perform at Carnegie Hall, using a cello strap of his own design, called the Block Strap, a performance which the NY Times called "Breathless ... Half dance, half dare." 

Read More
Gregory Sandow: Music critic, Consultant, & composer

Not too long ago, I interviewed Greg Sandow--a complete guru on the future of classical music. His blog speaks to much of what I feel lacks in the classical music world, and he has decades of music criticism and journalism to back up his opinion (link to his blog attached at the bottom of the page).

A composer, music critic and consultant, Greg Sandow, teaches at Juilliard, where he's a member of the Graduate Studies Faculty. He holds a Masters in Composition from Yale, has successfully composed and performed (though not all at the same time) four operas, and frequently guest lectures at music conservatories. With decades of classical music criticism behind him, he seems to be one of the few individuals who can criticize the current state of classical music with authority.

Read More
Lydia SewellComment
David Kim: Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra

This fall, I interviewed David Kim, Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Curious about what he would have to say about orchestral excerpts, I attended his masterclass at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (I guess if I want my Don Juan to be less scratchy, the first step is to use less rosin...DUH!!!). Afterwards, I approached Mr. Kim about my blog, and he agreed to a phone interview several days later.

Despite his position as Concertmaster for arguably one of the most famous orchestras in the world, Mr. Kim is one of the most grounded and generous musicians I have ever met. For lack of a better word, he's totally "normal". In our brief interview, I asked Mr. Kim about life as a Concertmaster, the skills needed to be a 21st century musician, and his most memorable concert experience (Spoiler Alert: It involves Martha Argerich!)

Read More
Lydia SewellComment
Scott Pingel: Principal Bass of the San Francisco Symphony

Early in 2017, I interviewed Scott Pingel, Principal Bass of the San Franciso Symphony (SFS)  to ask his thoughts about the future of the symphony orchestra and where it’s headed. Prior to SFS, Pingel served as principal bass of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, performed with the Metropolitan Opera, the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, and served as guest principal with the National Arts Center Orchestra in Canada. His solo performances with ensembles such as the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Academy Orchestra, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and in recitals frequently consisting of his own arrangements, have been met with high critical acclaim. 

A few of the questions I ask:

Where is the Symphony orchestra headed?

Have you ever considered a different career?

What actions has the San Francisco Symphony taken to increase audience engagement?  

Read More
Lydia SewellComment
Trala: A Practicing Game changer

RECORDING FOR TRALA:

Last June, I was connected by a mutual friend to a new music education startup called Trala. I had heard about Trala only two months before, while completing research for my Master’s thesis on the future of classical music. After googling “music education apps," I came across Trala.

Read More
Lydia SewellComment
Paul Hogle: Dean of CIM

Last fall, I interviewed Paul Hogle, Dean of the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) to discusses his views on the future of symphony orchestras and 21st century music education. Prior to CIM, Mr. Hogle served as the Executive Vice President of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), and held posts in senior fundraising and education with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. During one of the most tumultuous times in its history, Mr. Hogle helped to rebuild and reinvent the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Under his leadership, the DSO experienced  growth in subscription sales, fundraising, the DSO patron base, and has since built an  international webcast audience which now approaches one million viewers. Beyond his experience as an Executive Director, Mr. Hogle is also a passionate educator, encouraging millennial musicians to take charge and ownership of their own career. 

 

Read More
Eric Nowlin: Principal Viola for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

After interviewing over a dozen violinists, I decided it was time to gain the perspective of other instrumentalists. I was specifically looking for an instrumentalist who was both a Principal of a major American orchestra as well a passionate advocate for music education. While I'm sure there are many musicians who fit this description, I decided to interview Eric Nowlin, principal violist of the Detroit Symphony. Over the phone, we spoke about his experience with the DSO, his thoughts on preparing for orchestral auditions, and my favorite topic---how millennials should approach their musical career. 

Read More