Miroirs CA: In Conversation with Anne Akiko Meyers

Miroirs CA
Leonne Lewis

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers doesn’t just set the standard; she is the standard. Her internationally acclaimed recordings and performances have a distinction that’s all about interpretative sophistication, silky sounds and crystal intonation. She also has a keen interest in promoting and commissioning works by composers of our time.

A child prodigy in the truest sense, Meyers performed with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta at age twelve. Her studies include the Colburn School in Los Angeles with Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld, Indiana University with Josef Gingold and The Juilliard School with Felix Galimir and Dorothy DeLay.

Meyers received the Avery Fisher Career Grant award and in 2014 was Billboard’s number one classical charts instrumentalist. She performs a varied repertoire that includes Bach, Bruch, Barber, Prokofiev, Arvo Part and premieres of au courant works such as Somei Satoh’s Violin Concerto, Joseph Schwantner’s Angelfire for amplified violin and orchestra, John Corigliano’s Lullaby for Natalie (for Anne’s first-born daughter Natalie) and cadenzas by Wynton Marsalis for Mozart’s violin concerto No. 3, K. 216.

Meyers plays the legendary Ex-Vieuxtemps 1741 Guarneri del Gesu.

She discusses the importance of playing composers of our time with Editor Leonne Lewis.

HOW MUCH INPUT DO YOU GIVE WHEN COMMISSIONING WORKS BY COMPOSERS OF OUR TIME, SUCH AS MASON BATES’ VIOLIN CONCERTO, EINOJUHANI RAUTAVAARA’S FANTASIA FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA AND SAMUEL JONES’ VIOLIN CONCERTO?

Each experience is a unique collaboration, which is what makes commissioning new works so interesting and inspiring. At the start of a new project, a commission’s length, orchestration and type of piece (concerto, fantasy, shorter work) will be decided. From there, each composer has his or her own process of creation. The Mason Bates Violin Concerto was the first concerto he wrote for any instrument and he had many questions about playability, technical challenges, harmonics, etc. It was very collaborative work and we went through many revisions until reaching the final version.

I BELIEVE EINOJUHANI RAUTAVAARA’S FANTASIA HOLDS A SPECIAL PLACE FOR YOU. WHAT MAKES HIS MUSIC SO RELEVANT?

Einojuhani Rautavaara wrote his fantasy in record time, not changing a single note. I reworked the bowings and a bit fearfully asked if he was ok with this. He thanked me for changing them and said he always found violin bow markings super challenging. After I played Fantasia for him in his apartment in Helsinki he smiled and said how beautiful it was. I couldn’t agree more.

There’s a deep spirituality and feeling of transcendence that comes from Einojuhani Rautavaara’s works. His tonal palette is much like that of a master impressionist painter – Monet to be exact! You feel nature’s grand forces in his music and it deeply stirs the soul.

IN FEBRUARY, 2018 YOU WILL PREMIERE ADAM SCHOENBERG’S VIOLIN CONCERTO WITH THE SAN DIEGO SYMPHONY. COULD YOU PROVIDE A PREVIEW OF THE WORK AND ITS COMPATIBILITY WITH THE VIOLIN. {ADAM SCHOENBERG IS ON THE FACULTY OF OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE IN LOS ANGELES}

Funny you should ask this as I just got the first movement yesterday. Adam showed me a picture of the incredibly beautiful place where he got married. There was an orchard in fog that had a very ethereal quality to it. The first movement is based on that picture, as it possesses a feeling of wistfulness and quiet reflection. He told me to buckle my seatbelt because the second movement will be wicked and super challenging. The last movement returns to the original theme. To be able to discuss the music directly with the composer reveals so much more about a work than just seeing the notes on a printed page.