Anne Akiko Meyers on Commissioning New Works (Interview)

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Former guest artist Anne Akiko Meyers, an accomplished and traveled violinist, recently spoke with Classical KUSC’s Jim Svejda in an interview on their Arts Alive blog about the importance of commissioning new concert works.

“It’s very important to me to respect the tradition of the old but also always be forward thinking, and I think it really does expand my brain to work on different techniques with new music. It’s very empowering when you’re actually performing onstage and realizing that you’ve worked and created this… with the composer by your side and there have been revisions up until the last second. And to think what it would’ve been like if I could’ve done this with Mendelssohn, with Chopin—to ask him to write something for the violin—and to have their ears and eyes right there and ask questions.”

Meyers then goes on to discuss modern classical music, and the importance of music as story-telling.

“[with] a lot of the music today… I can’t respond to it because it just does not resonate with my take on really needing to feel that there is a story within the music. A lot of the music today almost feels like you need a science degree to understand what is happening onstage because it’s just so obtuse, it’s just so scientific and atonal, and it doesn’t tell a story—at least to my ears. So, when I’m working with a composer, I’m always looking for ‘What story are they trying to share?’”

Pacific Symphony

Meyers, in her 2018 performance of Ravel’s rhapsodic “Tzigane” with Pacific Symphony

She continues:

“The whole point of music [is] that you’re there to have a good time… You don’t need this doctorate to understand ‘Am I supposed to like this?’ like ‘Am I supposed to like plates and plates of spinach and kale?’ That’s always the fear—I think—with most audiences and new music. It’s just like ‘Okay, give me the tried and true, and I might just listen to a little bit of the new’ because it’s usually intimidating. But I love to choose and work with composers where the music deeply resonates with me and there’s this beautiful story to be shared.”

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