Cuthbert Sun is one of more accomplished musicians and soloists in the Andover orchestra. And he's smart enough to know that when one of the world’s best at anything offers constructive criticism, you embrace it.
“I can already tell that the music sounds better after listening to her," the senior said following his 20-minute session of performing and a detailed critique by renowned violinist Midori during a “Master Class” event Tuesday afternoon at Andover High School. “I’ve got some technical things to work on, and I know her insights will really help me as a musician.”
Sun was just one of the students that left the auditorium with a smile following performances by Hieja Kim and the school's orchestra ensemble. Students from Lahser High School, the International Academy and the district’s middle schools were also invited to the event.
"It has to have meaning"
Fresh off a plane — and just hours before her concert Tuesday night at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts in West Bloomfield — Midori spent more than hour on stage with students listening and offer insightful tips of how to improve their craft. She got very specific with some students about technique, and also spoke in broad terms with all the students about the approach and emotion needed to engage an audience.
"When playing with others, it’s just as important to stay engaged, even when you're not physically playing," she said she said after observing the 11-piece chamber ensemble perform multiple times. "The music is always going somewhere . . . always moving in a direction. It’s not just about playing the notes right, but it has to have meaning.”
Midori will celebrate three decades of performing this year. Her career debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 11 launched a career that includes appearances with the world’s most prestigious orchestras in some of the greatest music venues on the planet.
She performs close to 100 concerts annually around the world and is currently a professor and chair of the strings department, and Jascha Heifetz Chair in Violin at the USC Thornton School of Music, according to a news release. She's also actively involved in community and charitable projects involving music.
“It’s always nice to connect with the younger musicians," she said as she hurried off to her pre-show rehearsal Tuesday.
The "Master Class" event has drawn famous musicians before — such as composer and soloist Joseph Siverstein last year — but Midori is probably the most contemporary artist to visit, said Andover Orchestra Director Dave Reed.
“This is huge and the kids were really looking forward to it. We’re really fortunate to have her come in for this type of opportunity,” he said.