In a VC-exclusive guest blog, Orion String Quartet violinist Todd Phillips shares his thoughts on the importance of musical curiosity – and the impact it has on ones personalized interpretation.
“It is not only important to be musically curious, but also to be artistically and intellectually curious in a broader sense and to open one’s mind enough to be receptive to different art forms- literature, art, dance, drama. Being inspired by other disciplines can spark one’s imagination and can deepen your relationship with music.
The greatist artists – in all genres – are looking to create an experience that is more meaningful and powerful than the normal events of our everyday lives. Beethoven was certainly an example of this. He requires us to be stronger, more intelligent, more emotional, and more uncompromising in musical intent than just about any other composer.
Being curious enough to explore the varied choices of harmony, melody, articulation, and phrasing that composers make when putting together a piece of music can lead to discovering some of the underlying essences of character, emotion, and structure.
Looking beyond the simple, external markings on the page and to be courageous enough to endeavour to internalize the music can help one develop a way of playing a composer’s piece with naturalness and authentic feeling.
It is then necessary to explore specific instrumental techniques such as tone color, vibrato, and articulation as well as a more direct and efficient physical approach to the instrument so that one can illuminate what has inspired you about a particular work.
When you have a curious mind you can enjoy a lifelong journey of artistic exploration that can keep you connected to the most cosmic creations humanity has to offer!
A graduate of The Juilliard School and the Salzburg Mozarteum, where he studied with Sally Thomas and Sandor Vegh, Todd Phillips currently serves as a founding member of the famed Orion String Quartet and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra – and performs regularly as a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center | He holds teaching positions on faculty at the Mannes School of Music and the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University