New Zealand Herald: Brief encounter - violinist Anne Akiko Meyers

Photo: Molina Visuals

Photo: Molina Visuals

You describe yourself as a modern classical musician - why is this an important definition for you?

I think it is important for performers to embrace technology to connect with today's audience. In addition to traditional concerto, recitals, chamber music and recordings, I reach a wider fan base by collaborating with a diverse group of musicians (including Wynton Marsalis, Il Divo, Michael Bolton, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Isao Tomita), embracing technology and social media. I also love supporting and commissioning composers to expand the violin literature. All these diverse musical ideas make me a much better musician.

Mason Bates Violin Concerto was composed for you - how does it feel to have a concerto composed especially for you?

Working closely with living composers always gives me a greater understanding of music from prior periods and makes me ask questions. Was it a muse or situation that inspired the composer to create a work that lives on for generations? I don't really think of the concerto as written for me, it's more a piece for the world. Over time, any great music needs to attract lots of performers who add the piece to their repertoire.

It's about a pre-historic dinosaur taking flight - were you a big dinosaur fan as a kid as so many young ones are?

There are many descriptive sound effects in the concerto; one where I am supposed to be the actual dinosaur trudging through swampy lakebeds with a sensual quality - that takes an active imagination! My children and their cousins love dinosaurs - it makes you always aware that humankind came from a very prehistoric place. Mason Bates, the composer, also has young children, and I think they are huge dinosaur fans.

If you could travel back in time to any concert, meet any composer - who would it be and why?

I think this would have to be Beethoven conducting his Symphony No.9. It's impossible to imagine that he composed that stone cold deaf.

What's the greatest threat to the future of classical music?

I think classical music has a wider audience than ever before due to technology. I am shocked to see videos I have put on YouTube have been played millions of times. My family and I "attend" performances of the Berlin Philharmonic and Detroit Symphony Orchestra streamed into your home. This is amazing and incredible and will build the audience in younger generations. I wish I had that kind of access to recordings when I was in my 20s!

What makes you want to work with the NZ Symphony Orchestra?

I am super excited to see and experience New Zealand for the first time. My dad actually motorcycled around the country and sent photos of places I thought only existed in heaven. It will also be the first time I work with Fawzi Haimor [conductor] and the orchestra and it will be so much fun to bring Mason Bates' violin concerto to life together.

Why is this work important - and why should people want to come and see/hear it?

Mason Bates is a dynamic and extremely popular young American composer who is composer-in-residence with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center and was also composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony. A leading composer of his generation, his music is inventive, colourful and highly expressive, not to mention incredibly challenging. Audiences always clamour for more and I am thrilled to bring his first violin concerto to New Zealand!

• Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers joins the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for its Bold Worlds concert at the Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall on Friday, October 7.