Other Projects

1. I found your website to be the most “public”-accessible of any musician I have ever seen. Can you tell me why it is so important to you to have this kind of contact with your fans? What made you decide to highlight, in particular, the fan art? Do you think it helps people feel closer to classical music?
The website grew out of my different experiences as a musician and audience member. As you may know, I always stay around after my concerts to meet the audience, no matter how late it might get. (I only leave if I have to catch a plane.) The online postcards are an offshoot of a snail-mail postcard project I did with a third grade class when I was fifteen or so; posting my entries on my site just makes them available to everybody. And I enjoy writing, so the journal is a good outlet for that form of creativity. The student essays came from an encounter with another group of students. The factoids and FAQs comprise the information I’m comfortable sharing with the public – I keep my personal life private, but I have been asked many things about my work and touring life that I thought people might be interested to know and that I’ve often wondered about my colleagues. As for the fan art, I was compiling quite a collection of artistic presents, especially from my younger audience members, and I wanted to share the drawings with everyone who visits the site.

The content on my site might help people feel closer to classical music, but I compile it also because I like to interact with an audience on a longer-term basis. I hope that listeners will keep returning to the site to stay up to date, because I think it’s nice for people to feel in the loop when they’re sitting in the audience. What I never expected when I started touring is to see a lot of people grow up, but that has been happening more and more lately. I meet kids after concerts who then come back to other concerts of mine when they’re teenagers, and then they return with new spouses, and then they bring their babies. Yes, I’ve been giving concerts for that long! Art is a cycle of life.

It’s important to me that my site be a resource for concertgoers and young musicians; the only way one can find out what it’s like to be a touring performer is from someone who does it, and performers are hard to reach in person. This is my little addition to the worldwide pool of information.

2. I know doing elementary school outreach made a big impact on you. What are your future plans in this area?
I work with as many schools as I can; if they invite me, and I’m in the area, I make every effort to come to them. If that doesn’t work out, then students often come to specially organized rehearsals in groups and I’ll meet with them afterwards; we’ll talk and get to know each other.

Sometimes the school visits are part of established programs; sometimes they’re concerted outreach efforts; and sometimes I know someone who works at a school that wouldn’t mind if I came in and did a little demonstration-discussion. I don’t really plan the student activities far into the future, because I never know what opportunities will arise on their own, and I don’t want to plan anything that would keep me from participating in those situations. I’m sure that at some point, when I’m not so busy touring and performing, I will begin to think about what kinds of programs I might like to start and how I’d like to make them happen.

3. What do you like about your work with Josh Ritter? Do you have similar projects planned for the future, either with him or with other artists?
Josh is a contagiously joyous performer live, and sharing the stage with him is musically gratifying – even though, half the time when I’m joining in his songs, I feel as if I have no clue what I’m doing!
I also work with other artists, though those collaborations tend to be more time-specific, geared towards particular albums or tours. I look for the same things in everyone I work with, whatever world (classical or not) he or she inhabits: collegiality, open-mindedness, a sense of adventure, mutual artistic trust, responsibility, quality of performance, and care about the music. Whether it’s Tchaikovsky or a folk song, we are all putting notes together to communicate something personal yet abstract.

4. Are you aware that your violin case is Tweeting?
I have heard rumors of this! I don’t know what it’s saying. I had a conversation about Twitter within its earshot one day, and I think it went and set up an account. My violin case has insider info that no one else has.