The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday March 21st

Violinist Jennifer Koh talks art, performance

With a respected technical excellence and a reputation for being creatively daring, Jennifer Koh has become an internationally renowned violinist. Her album, “String Poetic,” was nominated for a Grammy in 2008. Known for reimagining similarly constructed songs to revive past compositions, Koh will perform a number of works in her first visit to Memorial Hall.

Staff writer Abby Gerdes sat down with Koh to discuss art, outreach and the experience of performing solo.


Time: 7:30 p.m. today
Location: Memorial Hall

Daily Tar Heel: Describe what it feels like to be on stage alone.

Jennifer Koh: This program, it’s one of the most naked programs possible … but it’s also one of the most intimate journeys you can take with an audience, and there is something really beautiful about that.

DTH: You’ve played in a multitude of symphonies. How is a solo performance different for you?

JK: Playing in a symphony, there is something powerful about being a small part of something greater than yourself. What is different about a very intimate solo violin recital is that it’s still about being a part of something greater than yourself, but in a much more esoteric way. You are carrying out music that was around over 300 years ago, so you become a small part of that process.

DTH: Why did you first start exploring the connections between past and present pieces?

JK: That’s just the way my brain works, and I’ve always liked programming thematically.

It just seemed natural. Contemporary music creates a thread to the past: Being alive in this time period, we don’t necessarily relate to the social circumstances of when Bach was alive, but you can reach that place by making connections through music ­— and in many ways that makes music of the past seem more relevant.

DTH: Your new CD, “Rhapsodic Musings,” includes a video aspect by Tal Rosner. In what ways have you seen your art become more complex?

JK: What’s exciting is that I’ve always loved working with other artists, so it’s about continuing a conversation into a different genre. It just felt like a natural progression: having a conversation with the screen.

DTH: You do a lot of work sharing music with children. Could you tell me a little bit more about your Music Messenger project?

JK: The arts should be an integral part of any students education. I wanted to reach out to parts of the community.

Music is such an organic part of who I am as a human being, so it became something I wanted to share with kids.

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