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15 Questions to Tamaki Kawakubo

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hello! I am doing well. Touring Japan for some concerts.

What’s on your schedule right now?

Yesterday, I had a concert with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra in Kawasaki, which is very close to Tokyo. The repertoire consisted of the Dvorak Violin Concerto. Starting next week, I will be touring with the Moscow Radio Symphony under
Maestro Fedoseev with the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

Can you still remember the first time you heard a piece of classical music?

My parents are avid classic lovers, so I remember always listening to the radio since I can remember! Also, my older sister used to play piano, so I would always listen to her practice.

What was the deciding moment, which made you want to become an artist?
I don't think that there was a certain age where I decided... The teacher that I used to study with in Los Angeles. Prof. Robert Lipsett, was always creating opportunities for his students to play in front of an audience. Every Wednesday, he used to have a masterclass where the students would play in front of their classmates to see what needed to be worked on more. It is  a very different thing to practice alone in a practice room, and to play in front of people. I think for me, to be able to play music for people is a blessing and to have the opportunity to do so is what made me decide that this is my life.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?
I suppose the hardest part is the balance in daily lifestyle. Physical and mental health is the most important thing in the long run, and to keep a daily routine is very difficult. Saying that, I love to travel and meet new people, especially making music with fantastic  musicians and artists, and since I love to eat, I tend to remember the cities thatI've been to depending on what I ate there!  

Do you consider it important that more young people care for classical music? If so, how, do you think, could this be achieved?
It is a very important thing to have young people care more for classical music... The history of classical music is a very long one, and to continue this, we must include the young to the power of music. I think that the main thing is that people that do not know classical music think that it is very difficult to understand, but this is not actually the case. Everybody has heard the melody of Beethoven's Symphony no.5 and when people can relate to something familiar, it is easier to get them interested. I think that a great way to get young people to be interested is to actually go to  schools and have a performance/talk concert. They can also ask questions and maybe try out a couple of instruments just for fun... Just to realize that classical music is not just for elite people but for everybody to enjoy.

How would you rate the importance of the Internet and new media for classical music?

I think there are two aspects to the importance of the technology of today. One is the convenience, to be able to find anything... If I'd need to listen to a piece that I am not familiar with, I could just look it up on the Internet! Sometimes, it can be a scary thing! The other part is that due to the possibility of being able to put up websites, it allows people to broaden their possibilities of experience.

With so many different recordings of a particular piece available – how do you keep yours fresh and different?
I think that with each individual, a piece will always sound different. No matter how much one would try to play like Heiftez or Oistrakh, it will never sound like them. The thing about music is that no matter how many times I will play  the same piece, it will always be different!

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A good performance is when the communication between the orchestra, the audience and me becomes one. There is a unexplainable energy in the air when this happens. The magic of a live performance is  that anything can happen, sometimes a passage can be executed better than any other time, and other passages can be worse. But this time spent in the concert hall will never come back, so I try to give it my all.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?

Interpretation can be taken in many different ways. I suppose it can also depend on what kind of training one has been through. For example. the approach of the French and Russian schools can be very different. One thing that is very important is that originality comes from the soul and that person's voice through their instrument.

How do you balance the need to to put your personal emotions into the music you play and the intentions of the composer?
I try to listen to other pieces that the composer wrote around the same time to see if there are similarities between the pieces. Also perhaps what the composer was going through during the time can help me think about emotions or scenery that can be similar.

What’s your view on the relationship between musical education and classical music?

I think that it is very important. Like the answer above, to understand a composer's life, it does help to know where he was from, what kind of music was played there and the history of classical music.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
This is a difficult question... There's so many wonderful programs!

How would you describe the relationship with your instrument?

At the time, I am playing on a Carlos Landolfi Violin which was loaned to about two months ago. It is a wonderful instrument and I am still learning to play it.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?

Oh, before I started the Violin, I played the Piano for about a year... I don't think that I was very good because my mother suggested that I should play another instrument! Also, I have recently purchased an Acoustic Guitar, but Ihaven't played it for months!! I must start learning to play...


Recital (Avex Classics)  2007
Tchaikoski & Mendelssohn (Avex Classics) 2004

Tamaki Kawakubo

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