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15 Questions to Christine Anderson

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi. I’m doing wonderfully. I’m at home in Los Angeles where I just stuffed and seasoned a huge organic chicken. It’s roasting right now with bell peppers and purple potatoes.

What’s on your schedule right now?
I set aside several months to focus on composing, and that’s what I’m working on presently.

If you hadn’t chosen music, what do you think you would be doing right now?
Music chose me, not the other way around. I couldn’t imagine my life without music, but if I didn’t have it, I’d probably be a teacher. I love children, and I’m writing a children’s book, so teaching seems like it would be a very rewarding experience for me.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?

Besides Mozart, my greatest influences have been Beethoven, The Beatles, Broadway and Billy Joel.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician, and what’s the best?
The hardest part about being a musician is missing out on that bumper to bumper commute to the office every morning and evening. It makes me feel left out of the rat race that has become so essential to the great Amercian experience. Just kidding. The hardest part about being an artist, for me, has been that a lot of my peers don’t understand where I’m coming from.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Here in Los Angeles, there is plenty of access to classical music. We have Frank Ghery’s newly designed Walt Disney conert hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and a plethora of classical concerts promoted on college campuses. We also have the LA Philharmonic, which is, in my opinion, one of the finest orchestras in the country. Unfortunately, younger attendees are few, as the demographic tends to be older, and upper middle class. So, while there is not a crisis, it is unfortunate that so many talented players have yet be appreciated by the younger generation.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?

It has been done before. But truly gifted performers are able to harness and channel a composer’s energy and filter it through their own emotions, turning out music that is new and different, even if the work has been performed a million times before. I believe musicians, who are blessed with enough ability, have an obligation to keep classical music alive. We’re talking about some of the greatest art ever created here.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
A good live performance is an emotional one; the music has to grab you, stir you, shake you up. I realize we’ve all had the importance of technique, theory, and status quo accuracy pounded into us since day one – if we’re serious musicians – but this is 2005. It takes a lot more than just the right notes and just the right dynamics to capture an audience. That’s why I enjoy composing and performing my own music in addition to classical works. The audience knows they are connecting with a real person, and that moves them.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
It means doing someone else’s music my own way.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
True. Otherwise, he’s not an artist at all, just a musician, and he’s no better than my computer.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
Oh, true!

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music before they can really appreciate it.
False. Music is either in your soul or it’s not. Remember the film Pretty Woman? Richard Gere’s character takes Julia Roberts’ character to the opera. He tells her there are two types of people. One hears the incredible melodies washing over them and their hearts are captured forever. The other type of person is not so moved, and while they can grow to appreciate it, they will never truly love it. As far as music education is concered, I tend to agree with Walt Whitman, whose poem about the “learn’d astronomer” warns that once you analyze something enough, it loses its magic.

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured to much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
- Walt Whitman

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
Tchaikovksy’s piano and violin concerti, Philip Glass’ Koyaanisquatsi, and David Bowie’s “Hunky Dory” arranged for a 90 piece orchestra.

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?
My favorite classical recording is on a tape made from old records by a good pianist friend of mine, Avis Wright. It’s got some of the greatest piano work ever composed performed by Vladimir Horowitz.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I tried the viola, but ah, I kept hurting my own ears. :o)

Pianist Envy
Live Summer Session 2005

Christine Anderson

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