In a capstone to our Leonard Bernstein centenary celebration, we present his quirky, complex, irreverent, and very humorous operetta Candide, with orchestral staging.
Each month in the Orchestra’s Playbill, we feature one musician in a question-and-answer segment. Below is that feature in its entirety.
Where were you born? In Lutherville, MD. I moved to Philadelphia when I was seven though, so I consider myself a Philly native.
What piece of music could you play over and over again? Any Beethoven string quartet.
What is your most treasured possession? My viola. It was made in Ferrara, Italy, in 1700 by Alessandro Mezadri and was once owned by President Hoover’s family. I feel pretty lucky to be able to play such an amazing instrument!
What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? That's hard because I love to eat! Monks is one of my favorites (I love good beer, too!) and Fermentaria in Ardmore. My last meal would be pho at Pho Saigon.
What’s in your instrument case? Pencils, nail clippers, and gum or mints. We sit pretty close to one another onstage.
If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? I would ask Beethoven to write a viola concerto or sonata.
What piece of music never fails to move you? Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I will never forget one of the last performances with [former Music Director Wolfgang] Sawallisch. It was one of the most powerful musical experiences of my life.
When did you join the Orchestra? In 1999.
Do you play any other instruments? I played trombone in high school. It was fun to be the loudest instrument in the orchestra!
What’s your favorite type of food? Pho and Korean food. I'm lucky my wife, Priscilla, is Korean and a good cook!
Do you speak any other languages? Chinese at a second grade level.
Do you have any hobbies? I love golf. Whether I am playing well or badly, if it's a beautiful day or 40 degrees and raining, there is never a bad day for me on the golf course.
Do you have a favorite movie? Elf. I loved it when it first came out, and just this past Christmas it was awesome to watch it with my wife and my two girls! I laugh so hard every time I watch it and it was so great to see them laugh just as much as I do. When they get older I can't wait to watch Dumb and Dumber with them!
Is there a piece of music that isn’t in the standard orchestral repertoire that should be? Maybe because I'm a violist, but I love Hindemith. I guess it's standard but we don't play too much of it.
What’s the last recording you purchased? Sadly the Frozen soundtrack.
What’s on your iPod? Classical stuff, Jimi Hendrix, Beck, the Roots, Baba Booey.
When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? I was 12 and my parents bought a subscription to the Tuesday B series with the Orchestra. I was spoiled growing up listening to, and watching, the Orchestra, I don't think I can play anywhere else now. It's truly a dream come true to share the stage with so many of the people I admired.
Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? The Musikverein in Vienna for the tradition and history and Royal Albert in London for the amazing experience to play at the Proms in front of thousands of rabid classical music lovers.
Photo by Jessica Griffin