10 Questions for : AVERY MORRIS
1. What is your program? What year are you in?
I just completed my Master’s in Music in Violin Performance at uOttawa where I studied with Yehonatan Berick.
2. What are your plans for next year?
I will be pursuing my DMA in Violin Performance at Stony Brook University in the fall with Arnaud Sussman, Jennifer Frautschi and Hagai Shaham. During my first three years there, I will be participating in the Emerson String Quartet Institute. I will also have a teaching assistantship on campus and plan to teach students privately. I am very excited to reconnect with my family and friends in the Manhattan and the New York state area!
3. What are some of your greatest accomplishments within the program?
This past fall, I gave a solo recital at NAC’s Fourth Stage and was accepted into the NAC Institute for Orchestral Studies. Since my first semester here, I have been a member of the Ottawa Symphony-uOttawa Mentorship Program. Last summer, I attended the Sarasota Music Festival and Chautauqua Institute’s Music Festival Orchestra. One of my chamber music performances at Sarasota was featured on WQXR, New York City’s main classical radio station!
4. What opportunities have you had for performances while studying here?
I have performed frequently at Dominion Chalmers with the Ottawa Symphony. Last year I performed with my string quartet as part of a noon concert series at the NAC atrium. I have also led the uOttawa Orchestra as concertmaster for three concerts at St. Joseph’s church. Some of the performance opportunities I have cherished the most have been weekly violin studio classes; Yehonatan fosters such a supportive and casual atmosphere in the studio!
5. Which professor has had an impact on your studies?
Yehonatan Berick has had a huge impact on my studies and career as a performer. He has helped me develop a positive performance mindset and open my ears to what sounds I aspire to create. I’m also very grateful for the opportunity to work and perform with pianist Frédéric Lacroix.
6. What are some of your favourite styles to perform?
One of my favourite genres of classical music is the string quartet. I love the richness of the sound. One of my career goals is to form a string quartet that functions as a Classical Music Start-up, one which organizes global benefit concerts for social causes, such as issues of Climate Change to those of gender politics in the 21st century.
7. What was the most pivotal moment in your music studies?
When I was a senior at Crossroads School in LA, I participated in an alumni concert in which the music director invited some of our high school’s most esteemed conservatory alumni including members of the New York, Chicago, and San Francisco Philharmonic Orchestras. To be immersed in such a resonant string sound, playing Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, was surreal and one of the most inspiring musical experiences of my life.
8. What did you learn about yourself while studying here?
Throughout my lessons with Yehonatan, I learned that I have something to say with the instrument and something unique to bring to the field. I also learned just how much I love playing the violin and how much I need to play the violin to bring purpose to my life.
9. What does a glimpse into your creative process look like?
I usually begin by reading an entire piece through to get a feel for it and assess what needs the most work technically. I break the piece down into smaller passages, work these up to a medium-level tempo, experiment with technical solutions that make them easier to play, and musical strategies to make the piece feel more personal. This often involves me singing the passages and playing them back on the violin to imitate my voice. I try to memorize the piece as soon as possible; this allows me to learn it by ear which makes it sound better and feel more natural.
10. How has the current situation had an impact on your studies?
At first, it was difficult for me because I was struggling to find the motivation to practice. One of my favourite aspects of music is playing with other people – without this, it was difficult for me to contextualize my music making. I’m organizing a social distancing concert in my front lawn for my neighbours! I will be performing solo works as well as duets with my twin sister. I have also been recording some virtual videos with friends for social media. I started a new obsession with Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society’s archival recordings, particularly with a recording of Beethoven’s Archduke trio performed by Erin Keefe, Efe Baltacifil and Jeremey Denk!
– Nathalee Jacques