Jennifer Koh launches Off Stage On Record

06.17.14
Jennifer Koh
Schuman Associates Inc

Violinist Jennifer Koh has launched a new video series called Off Stage On Record, comprised of short, documentary-style episodes aimed to entertain and inform music students, artists, and fans alike.

In Ms. Koh’s cover profile in Strings magazine’s June 2014 issue, where she describes her inspiration for creating this series, she says, “When I was young, I had so many questions, and this series is about exploring all of the different aspects offstage … People only see you when you’re onstage, but 99.9 percent of the work is when you’re not onstage. Being a musician is 24 hours a day—I want to show people those things I had no idea about.”

The first three episodes—“Creativity”, “Collaboration”, and “Body”—respectively address how Ms. Koh continuously finds sources of inspiration for projects; how she works with a variety of musicians and composers, including Kaija Saariaho and Jean-Baptiste Barrière; and how she is mindful of exercise, diet, and rest. Future episodes will focus on subjects such as the recording process, instrument care, juggling one’s schedule, and coordinating with a team that includes a manager, publicist, donors, and presenters. Watch the series on Ms. Koh’s YouTube channel here.

The series is a co-presented by Strings and MusicBridge, Inc., a new non-profit founded by Ms. Koh which supports both current and future collaborations between artists of different disciplines.

Jennifer Koh’s latest recording Two x Four with Jaime Laredo and the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble celebrates mentorship

Two x Four, named for two violinists performing four works with orchestra, celebrates the relationship between teacher and student through music andis the first joint recording between Jennifer Koh and Jaime Laredo, her mentor and former teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music. Released by Cedille on April 29, the album features Ms. Koh and Mr. Laredo performing Bach’s Double Concerto for Two Violins, Philip Glass’s Echorus, and the world-premiere recordings of Anna Clyne’s Prince of Clouds and David Ludwig’s Seasons Lost. They are joined by musicians from their alma mater, the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble led by Vinay Parameswaran. Digital downloads and physical CD copies of the recording are available at Cedille Records, Amazon.com, and iTunes. Watch the video trailer for Two x Four here.

John von Rhein at the Chicago Tribune says, “The performances and recording leave nothing to be desired” and honor the friendship between Ms. Clyne, a frequent collaborator, and “musical soul mate” Jennifer Koh, “the brilliant, Chicago-born violin virtuoso.”

ConcertoNet calls the partnership between Ms. Koh and Mr. Laredo “the stuff of musical kismet,” stating that the pair conjures “a certain X factor … between sublime musical energy and clean technique” in the Two x Four recording. This X factor “is palpable from the start” with the Bach Double Violin Concerto, and “there is immediacy in their playing that builds their edge.” Prince of Clouds has “disquieting atmospherics” and “admirably, unpredictable, unmannered development,” but the driving force behind the piece is the “core dual strings narrative.” Echorus is “meditative Glass, well-suited to the breadth of tone and texture that Koh and Laredo achieve,” and in Seasons Lost, “Koh and Laredo lead through beautiful and harrowing sound field that inevitably wend toward jarring resolves.”

Ms. Koh and Mr. Laredo have also performed select works from Two x Four with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and presented the program of all four concertos with the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

Summer concerts: chamber music and the world premiere of Light and Matter

This summer, Jennifer Koh performs the world premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Light and Matter with pianist Benjamin Hochman and cellist Nicholas Canellakis at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, ME. The piece, commissioned by the Aeolian Chamber Players, honors the 50th anniversary of the Bowdoin International Music Festival. The concert takes place at the Studzinki Recital Hall on Wednesday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. and includes a performance of Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, BMV 1041 by Ms. Koh and the Bowdoin Festival Chamber Orchestra. The trio will also bring Ms. Saariaho’s work to the TELUS Centre in Toronto and the Library of Congress in Washington in May 2015.

Ms. Koh “has championed music of both Ms. Saariaho and Bach,” says The New York Times. Ms. Saariaho’s Nocturne appears on Ms. Koh’s Bach and Beyond Part 1 recording, and Frises, her work for solo violin and electronics, performed by Ms. Koh at the Miller Theatre in 2014 with a “dynamic, muscular approach” (Strad magazine), will appear on the Bach and Beyond Part 2 recording when released in November 2014.

Other summer engagements include Ms. Koh’s performance of Bernstein’s Serenade for solo violin with the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra led by Jean-Marie Zeitouni at the Colorado Music Festival on Sunday, August 3 at 7:30 p.m. and at the Estes Park Music Festival on Monday, August 4 at 7:30 p.m. Ms. Koh then performs two chamber music concerts with Mr. Hochman, among other musicians. On Tuesday, August 5 at 7:30 p.m., she plays in Tsontakis’s Eclipse, Saariaho’s Nocturne, and Mozart’s Viola Quintet in G minor at the Salt Bay Chamberfest; on Sunday, August 10 at 1:30 p.m., she plays in Schubert’s Sonatina in D major, D. 384 at the Bard Music Festival as part of the festival’s Schubert-focused 25th anniversary season.