What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?
Music and the arts were always an integral part of my family life. As a very young child I studied ballet and piano, and spent countless hours listening to my parents record collection. I was particularly fascinated with a recording of the Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade. I loved the sound of the violin! When instruments were offered in elementary school I chose the violin, and the rest is history. The defining moment came when I was accepted into the Juilliard School, Pre College division, and was surrounded by other highly motivated students and an inspirational faculty.
What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?
“There can be no doubt!” Meaning that when you step on stage you must have absolute confidence in your abilities and know that you are in control of every aspect of your performance. That, and “Go practice!” – the best way to achieve a state of “no doubt”.
What is your daily practice routine?
I usually begin with warm up exercises for the right arm and move on to “basics”. “Basics” are an individual set of exercises that fit into 20 minutes and are suited to each persons needs. They can consist of shifting exercises, dexterity exercises, basic double stops, anything specific that you think you need to reinforce or improve. For example, I always practice fifths and shifting exercises in my basics. I then move on to scales and arpeggios, and difficult passages from the repertoire. I always leave time for playing through pieces, or sections of works that I will be performing. And I always perform for friends and colleagues before a public performance.
What was a turning point in your career?
Several years after joining I Solisti Veneti I began to develop tension issues. I had the great fortune to work with a wonderful teacher, Kato Havas, who specialized in the elimination of tension in violin playing. She taught me how to reboot my technique in a very natural and organic way. Not only did her techniques help me, but they form an integral part of my own teaching technique, and have helped all of my students in their own development.
What were your 3 most important influences?
Dorothy DeLay who taught me how to think for myself, and to love the process. Claudio Scimone, conductor of I Solisti Veneti who taught me that the most important objective is to communicate with your audience. Also Paul Doktor, who taught me the importance of curating every phrase with intelligence and intention.
What are you passionate about outside of music?
I love to eat and I love to cook. Anything from burritos to classic french cuisine. I love art and one of my favorite things is losing myself in a museum. I love seeing the connections between the visual arts and music… and good TV! I am a huge Star Trek fan and love Si Fi like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I Zombi. Anthony Bourdain was another favorite. He had some of the most intelligent shows on television combining food, culture and politics.
With what ensembles have you performed?
That’s a very long list! I was first violin of the Ives Quartet 2005-2015. I perform chamber music regularly at the Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival. I was Concertmaster and Solo Violin with “I Solisti Veniti” 1983-1992, and have performed as guest concertmaster with the Orchestra Citta di Ferrara, Orchestra Toscanini of Parma, Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Orchestra del Teatro di Cagliari, Orchestra della Fenice, The Academy Orchestra London England, and the Toronto Chamber Orchestra. I founded the Chicago String Trio 1983-1990 and I have [had the pleasure of collaborating with Jodi Levitz in our violin and viola duo, Duo Rolla, since 1983. I have performed on baroque violin with Il Ruggiero 1995-1998, and most recently with Tanya Tomkins and Eric Zivian for the Berkeley Early Music Society. I have also performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto with the SFCM Orchestra, Kurt Weill Violin Concerto with the BluePrint ensemble, Barber Violin Concerto and Haydn Sinfonia Concertante with the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony and most recently the Brahms Double Concerto with cellist Ross Harbaugh and the Orchestra Delray.