I recently sat down with the future of classical music and had a chat. Violinist Stefan Jackiw, Clarinetist Yoonah Kim, and pianist Henry Kramer were in San Diego as a part of the Mainly Mozart Festival’s Spotlight Chamber Music. They performed at the Scripps Research Auditorium on Saturday, February 2 and at the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club on Sunday, February 3.
While I didn’t ask for ages, it was pretty clear that everyone was 33 years old or younger, perhaps much younger. I asked each of them to use one word to describe their relationship with music and to then expound upon that a little.
Henry Kramer’s word was “beauty”. He described it as the search for something beautiful — that there is a certain indescribable feeling that beauty gives to our lives. Music is a way of practicing that feeling all the time. When we hear something beautiful it realigns the cells of our bodies in such a way that it feels great. Music does that all the time.
Stefan Jackiw’s word was belonging. He admitted that there is a cliche about music being a universal language. Beyond that, when Stefan plays a piece by Mozart or Haydn or Brahms — someone who lived hundreds of years ago in a land far, far, away, he recognizes a kindred spirit. They are expressing emotions exactly as we experience them today. That makes us feel as though we’re not alone. There is an intense bond which arises from working with other musicians when you share the same passion for music.
Yoonah Kim’s word was expression. Before music, she felt as if she was somewhat confused as to who she was. Yoonah grew up doing activities from tap dance to scholastics to sports. She wanted to find that one thing which described who she was. She came to the thought that through music she could express everything that she is. Yet that isn’t all. She explained that music allows her to become other things as well. It’s almost as if she’s a method actor when she plays music.
The music which this extraordinary trio performed was Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata, Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 378 and Stravinsky trio arrangement of his theatrical piece L’Histoire du Soldat. The audience response was remarkable and at the Scripps Research Auditorium, almost the entire crowd stayed for the artist talkback which followed the concert.
Stefan, Yoonah, and Henry shared their words with the audience, and I noticed that in the interval since we had spoken, their definitions had become more succinct and more beautifully expressed.
Stefan Jackiw will be back in San Diego next February performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the San Diego Symphony under music direct Rafael Payare.
Listen to the artist talkback at the Scripps events here.