When I was young, my violin was my ticket to friendship. I met nearly all my close friends in junior high and high school through orchestra or summer camp at Interlochen, and these early experiences laid the groundwork for what I love to do today—write about, listen to, and think about music (with the occasional practice session thrown in for good measure). I have a few violin students I work with weekly, and one thing I try and emphasize is that along with the studies about music being good for your brain and the advantages of such extracurriculars on one’s college application, it’s—well, it’s just fun to play music with friends.
Speaking of musical friendships, our March soloist, Imogen Cooper, is great friends with our music director Jane Glover, and last year the two made their mutual debuts with the Cleveland Orchestra in concerts that included Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1. (Imogen just performed Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto (which she plays with us March 29 and 30) with the Philadelphia Orchestra, to rave reviews.) And my colleague just passed along an invitation to MOB principal guest conductor Nicholas Kraemer’s 70th birthday party, which just happens to be a concert in which he leads the English Chamber Orchestra from the harpsichord—along with soloist Imogen Cooper. (Perhaps for my 70th...?)
I have never met Imogen Cooper, but she was gracious enough to converse via email about Chicago, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 2 (which is actually his earliest concerto), her newly launched Imogen Cooper Trust, and more. Hopefully I'll have a chance to introduce myself now that she's in town, but if I don't, I know we'll become better acquainted through her live performances with us this weekend. Here's what she had to say:
Q: You perform with top ensembles all over the world. What do you enjoy about performing with Music of the Baroque?
A: I enjoy the mixture of intimacy and great expertise, the humanity, the sheer love of music and of performing. All brought to the fore by Jane Glover’s passion for the beautiful works we perform.
Q: You’ve been to Chicago several times now. Are there particular places you like to visit, or things you enjoy doing?
A: Exploring Frank Lloyd Wright, doing the architectural boat trip—if the weather allows!—and of course, the Art Institute.
Q: Give us a few insights into Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto. What makes it distinctive? What do you hope listeners notice about the work?
A: I hope that they will not only notice but also be physically caught up in, the brio and joy of the work, in its outer movements, and the interchange/conversation between piano and orchestra. In the slow movement we have one of the gems of early Beethoven writing (he wrote this concerto before the First Concerto); heartfelt, intimate, the piano’s cantilenas soaring above quiet pizzicato strings, speaking as a singer does, and a magic ending, watch this space!