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Keoni

“Why does my music matter? That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I’m trying to get good enough in school so that I can, can…make my own music matter.

 

So, I played this summer in Rome with Mr. McDuffie. I was in his quartet. We did the Brahms piano quartet. And he grilled me alive every single rehearsal. He was so rough on me, and it was a very enriching experience. But, he refused to conduct the rehearsals in English. He speaks Italian, which I did not know until the first rehearsal. And…the other two people in the quartet were Italian. And…he would only speak English when he was yelling at me.

 

But, at the end of the performance, it was, he was, he told me he had never been more proud of me and that he, he was just so intense and so demanding because he said he knew that I could take it and he knew that it would get a fantastic performance out of me and out of our quartet.

 

And it did.

 

And I just felt so exhausted after the performance and so relieved and so happy with how we played. And it was really stressful, but the performance was worth all of the intensity and the stress of the rehearsals. And it was such a fulfilling performance.

 

I’m a junior. I actually play both violin and viola…I have my feet in both ponds right now. I came here as a violin major. I started playing viola over the summer in between my freshman and sophomore year.

 

There’s really actually no other school that I could kind of straddle the, the line between violin and viola.

 

Last year, I played both violin and viola in chamber music, and I go to both violin and viola studio and have both violin and viola lessons. And, that’s not something that I would just be able to, to swing sort of last minute anywhere else.

 

So, I’m very lucky that I had that epiphany that I wanted to play both instruments here.

 

I think what led me to viola was I played on a really, really nice viola one time and realized how, how deep the sound can go and the sort of depth and the quality that the instrument of a viola can have.

 

One of the experiences that affirmed it was playing second violin in a Beethoven quartet and then playing viola in the same Beethoven quartet later in the year. And I liked playing the viola in that [quartet] more than I liked playing violin.  

 

But that’s not the case with everything.

 

There’s just so much good repertoire for both. It’s kind of hard for me to choose one side or the other. So I kind of chose both.

 

I’m probably going to…there’s fewer violists in the world. And, so, probably career-wise, it’s a smarter move to…to try and pursue something on viola because there’s the thousands and thousand and thousands of people who play violin out there.

 

But there are lots of people who do both. Pinchas Zukerman is an example. He’s famous in the classical world. My teacher, over the summer, at the Aspen Music Festival also teaches both violin and viola.

 

That would be ideal, but I guess I’m gonna see whatever opportunities come my way.

 

I guess a lot of times people are able to reconcile both, and I guess that’s what I’m trying to do.

 

Probably the ultimate goal for me is to play in an orchestra. And…a conductor once told me that, ‘Whenever you perform a piece of music, you have to remember that sometimes it’s one of your audience member’s first time ever hearing that piece and for some other audience member it will be their last time ever hearing that piece.’

 

And, that really stuck with me…There’s that kind of mantle of responsibility of…those are different bits of music that are almost personality defining. And so for me as a musician, I might be performing one of those defining bits of life for the last time that they hear it or the first time that they hear it…and then it might go on to be one of their personality defining memories.

 

Music matters to me, because there are so many things that you can’t put into words, that are easier to put into music, that are able to be expressed more through music. There’s a lot of different examples of composers even being able to enact tons of social change through music and through composing and performing and writing.

 

Even an example here…we had the ‘What Color is Your Brother?’ concert. That was a hugely inspiring concert for me because I could tell how much it meant to the community. It was a completely packed audience and they were even…audience members were in the church across the street, watching the live stream.

 

It was so interesting to see how the music…it’s a play that’s put together from real interviews…that are reenacted on stage, and then we played music behind them. And it was a huge responsibility to, to direct the interview in a contextual way that brought it to life in a certain perspective with the music.

 

I was skeptical when I first heard about the project. Like, ‘OK, there’s gonna be some, some interviews happening and we’re gonna be playing behind them.’

 

But the end result was, was really stunning to me, someone who had only been in Macon for seven months at that point.

 

I think it was meaningful to so many people…kind of a snowball effect…because they could see that it was meaningful to so many other people…so many different slices of Macon came into this sort of cohesive, almost ode, to the city.

 

And, I think that meant a lot to the people who’ve lived here all of their lives who know that it has problems and who know that there’s a lot of work to be done but who still love the place for what it is.

 

The reason music feeds my soul is connecting with people. I think that’s kind of all we, all we have in life is the relationships that we forge with other people.

We actually live on a farm in Pennsylvania…it’s a dairy farm. So we have lots of goats and horses and chickens. And my mom makes her own goat cheese. So, growing up in…Tucson, which is really close to Mexico.

 

My mom would make this chili relleno and it’s like stuffed chilis with vegetables…she makes that with goat cheese that she’s made from our goats milk. That’d be my last meal.

 

The last music I want to hear? Mahler’s 9th Symphony and Beethoven Opus 130.”

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