Q. What inspired you to pursue music as a career?
A. You can blame it on Beethoven. When I was a little child, my mother, who was an ardent lover of music and an aspiring singer, had a recording of the Creatures of Prometheus Overture. I remember the album cover vividly. It was an image of a Vincent van Gogh painting with all the swirls and energetic brush strokes. It was an aptly chosen cover, because that is what Beethoven’s music is so full of that untamed energy.The Orchestra was the Suisse Romande conducted by Ernest Ansermet. I would lie on the dining room floor, where my mother had the piano and the provincial record player and listen. There is an energy, intensity and tragedy in the music of Beethoven and then, all of a sudden, the most sweet, gut-wrenching beauty. In spite of all the clashes, Beethoven was telling me that human decency can prevail. It was so inspiring. I wore the album out.
Q. What do you like most about the CPO’s ensemble approach to creating music?
A. The CPO is a representation of some of the finest musicians in Chicago. It is especially evident in the high class music making within the woodwinds and brass. I look around the orchestra and feel so privileged to be making music with such great players. Because many of them work together as members of the Lyric Opera, they have an already established tight ensemble. There is also a sensitivity within the orchestra as to which voice should prevail and which voice is supportive. We also have excellent and strong leadership from the principal string players. I can tell you that rarely do I hear such fine contrabass playing. It makes my life so much easier to be nestled in with that!
Q. What new endeavors would you like to see the CPO pursue in the future?
A. I think we should play more music by Latin composers. There is a large Latin American population residing in Chicago. They are, rightfully so, very proud of their heritage and I think we should covet their presence at out performances. One of the most exciting pieces I’ve ever played is Huapango by Moncayo.