Interview with Clive Greensmith
By Dr. Nick Curry
A graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music and the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Clive Greensmith's principal teachers were Donald McCall and Boris Pergamenschikow. He has held the position of principal cellist of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. As a soloist, he has appeared with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, and the RAI Orchestra of Rome. He has collaborated with distinguished musicians such as András Schiff, Midori, Claude Frank and Steven Isserlis, and has won several prizes including second place in the inaugural “Premio Stradivari” held in Cremona, Italy. His recording of Brahms Sonatas with Boris Berman was released on the Biddulph label. Mr. Greensmith has served on the faculties of the Royal Northern College of Music, Yehudi Menuhin School, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music and is currently on the faculty of the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Mr. Greensmith is a founding member of the Montrose Trio with pianist Jon Kimura Parker and violinist Martin Beaver.
Note: This interview was conducted by Dr. Nick Curry, Associate Professor of Cello at the University of North Florida, on behalf of Ovation Press. Dr. Curry’s biography can be found below.
Ovation Press: What was it like starting out as the principal cellist of a major orchestra? What did you take away from the experience of settling into the job?
Clive Greensmith: Well, I remember it was a tough period for me. I was in my late twenties when I won the job with the Royal Phil. My approach with virtually every new work was to learn and then internalize the entire score. I was so worried that I was going to commit all manner of different mistakes that I’d sometimes memorize the whole score. Before receiving tenure, I was on trial for several months. The music director at that point was Daniele Gatti. And so having won the chance to lead the section for him, I was up for my first rehearsal at the Barbican Hall in London. We began with Mahler Fourth. I was so glad that I’d prepared well because he was just relentlessly picky right from the first note. Zeroing in on the cello section, he wanted different fingerings to produce all kinds of different colors. He wanted different bowings and articulations. He was testing me, and if I hadn’t done that preparation, I would have been at sea. Several years later I saw him publically berate a violinist who was in for a co-principal job, sending him home because he just wasn’t prepared. The other thing I would say is, learn first how to play with the section. The section does not like it when you come in and act like a sort of ‘Young Turk’, imposing your will. I think it’s better to seek consensus and to accept the fact that many people are much older than you and more experienced. They’ve certainly played these pieces a lot more than you have. So, learn to play with the section–that’s hugely important. Another thing for the principal player is to be prepared for the short two-bar solos. There’s nothing more frightening for the orchestral principal cellist. The long ones are actually easier, because you have a chance to settle into them. I never found the William Tell solo too tricky, but for example, Elgar–the Enigma Variations–the big solo is hard enough, but there is a little three-bar solo earlier on in the piece, which has the octave shift going up to the E. It seems small and insignificant on the page, but it’s actually really hard. So practice everything, not just the stuff that seems hard. Perhaps this seems like an obvious point, but I often found myself thinking, “I wish I practiced this a little bit harder.”
And it’s fun. You’ll enjoy it all the more if you know the whole score. You become kind of like your own conductor, with a heightened sense of awareness of everything that is going on in the score and that’s surely a great thing. It could be the second bassoon or the tambourine – anything that gives you a sense of where you are in the piece, particularly with complicated scores. If you know what to listen for, then you’ll be okay. Another overlooked subject, which caused me some grief early on – leading pizzicati. There is an art to a well-timed pizz and one’s ability to follow a beat, and bring the section with you. Experienced principal string players seem to have a sixth sense, a kind of radar that senses danger and helps the conductor avoid an accident before it’s too late! I have to say Frank Miller was extraordinary in this regard, at least from what I can tell having studied several films of the NBC and Chicago Symphony.
Ovation Press: You started your career as Principal Cello in the Royal Philharmonic, and you’ve just finished 14 seasons as the cellist for the Tokyo String Quartet. Did you make changes to your playing style when you moved from your position in the Philharmonic to the quartet?
Clive Greensmith: I don’t think I changed on a fundamental level as an instrumentalist, but looking back, I now see that my outlook as a musician really evolved. I’d played a good deal of chamber music before I joined the ensemble—so I actually felt very at home in the Tokyo Quartet. It suited my style more. I had sometimes questioned whether I really had the resilience to be an orchestra principal in London, with it’s famously demanding working routines. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility in the orchestra, leading the section knowing that I had to be completely on top of things at all times. I recall a lot of a stress from that fact that we were typically given very little rehearsal time in London. In the quartet, there were different kinds of challenges. My wife was kind enough to say that my intonation improved, which was a good thing! The purity of the sound, the clarity of the articulation, the clarity of passagework, the reliability of your playing securely is heightened in a string quartet. There’s nobody else there on the bass line. Also the sort of subtle nuances that you make in your playing are multiplied. You have to become more flexible, malleable, more sensitive with your sound, and you have to be very good at knowing when to come in and out of the texture. My natural default mode seemed to be in a quartet. Perhaps the biggest musical development I felt was when the quartet began to tackle the more profound works in the repertoire i.e. the late Beethoven Quartets, the big Schubert works and of course the Bartok cycle. One of my high school teachers always told us that any great novel that we read changes us, and I really felt the same impact as I began to experience the inner world of these composers, revealed to us through such powerful, yet intimate music.
Ovation Press: You said that your intonation improved when you started playing with the quartet. Once you joined the quartet, how did you work on intonation as a group?
Clive Greensmith: By the time I joined, the quartet had already been going for 27 seasons, so former members of the group could have provided you with a clearer answer of how they began the life long challenge of fine group intonation. However, I can certainly share with you some of our common practices. There was of course a lot of slow work, building up of chords, using the drone, and I have to say, even just tuning the instrument changed. I realized I had to tune with tighter fifths. We used to play at A 443, and over the first couple of seasons I asked if we could bring it down because I didn’t think that the Strad cello that I’d been given to use resonated well at A 443, especially in the dry New York winters. We came down to A 442 – big deal! There was a lot of debate about expressive intonation. Our approach was perhaps rather middle of the road, but we did devote a lot of time also working in pairs. The balance and cooperation between the two violins is really crucial. Of course I heard it in our quartet, when the viola and cello weren’t quite in tune, but when the fiddles weren’t in tune one really heard it. I hasten to add, we were all equally guilty, but it’s a question of tessitura. So there was a lot of work involving the two violins pairing off together and sometimes just turning up early and taking 15 minutes to work with a colleague alone, or staying behind after the rehearsal. Vibrato is crucial. That’s one thing that changed [when transitioning to quartet playing] – from the last question. The width of the vibrato: it became more and more apparent that I needed to provide a truly centered sound. I think in a way it purifies one’s tone, playing in a string quartet. If one likes to use a lot of open strings, one has to be so careful not to apply vibrato in a casual way. Damn those Mozart unison themes!!
Ovation Press: Speaking of vibrato, what about matching vibrato or different bow strokes: did you work on that in specific ways or was it mostly by just listening?
Clive Greensmith: I think when the group’s working well and everybody’s sensitive to the environment and to their colleagues, a lot of it takes place subliminally. You’re automatically adjusting to the sonority and the character of the music, adjusting your sound. There were periods of conflict, I remember. Four people can easily have a completely different concept of a passage and even the innate character of an entire movement. After musical disagreements there was inevitably a lot of soul-searching. I think we had to work very hard to agree on left-hand nuance. People have habits that go back many years. I remember one of my colleagues and I discussing vibrato, and he told me that at one point he had a rather fast, narrow vibrato and that he’d worked very hard to overcome that, and I had no idea about that before he joined the group. Then it came up in a rehearsal in a Shostakovich Quartet, and it quickly became a very personal matter. Perhaps it’s like the baggage that finally arrives when you meet somebody midlife, and that happened in our group. There was no right or wrong way; just an approach to sound and nuance that makes players true individuals. Vibrato – maybe that’s the most personal trademark of any string player, or one of the most personal, so we worked a lot at that. And my vibrato changed as I explored many new colors as the group endeavored to refine the tonal picture. I am still horrified to look back at times when I thought my left hand color was perfectly controlled, only to listen to a recording the next day when the evidence told me otherwise!
Ovation Press: What are some of your own impressions from the work you’ve done with the quartet over the years?
Clive Greensmith: The overriding feeling is of deep gratitude to have had the chance to work on this sophisticated, challenging repertoire. You’re getting the very best, the crown jewels, from all the composers that decided to work with this medium, and so I like to think you’re going to grow as a musician no matter what, and the chance to have many repeat performances is a luxury that I’d never experienced before in a chamber group. You gradually realize things after performance number 10, 15 or 20, that you might never have discovered if you weren’t given that broad expanse of time. And then, the rehearsal process can sometimes seem laborious and time-consuming, but it’s also really intriguing. You learn a lot about the craft of playing the cello, the craft of playing with others, the social aspect of living together so closely in this monastic lifestyle shared with only three other people. You learn how to cope onstage with the stress of maintaining your form. You learn how to prepare quickly, rehearsal technique, time management. You learn just about everything you could possibly need as a musician. You learn in the study of these pieces and the presenting of these pieces and communicating them to an audience. You also learn how to explain yourself in rehearsal. You learn how to defend an idea, you learn how to listen to somebody else’s idea, and you learn how to compromise. And you also learn some very practical things, like how to look at an edition, to compare an old edition to a new edition, and when there are inevitably questions that aren’t answered by either edition, how to solve a particular problem. All the skills you learn playing chamber music: tuning, timing, control of sound, understanding of harmony. You learn about what works in a hall, which is such an important thing.
Ovation Press: You’re moving from New York to L.A. to join faculty of The Colburn School teaching cello and chamber music. Are you thus making teaching a more important part of your career now?
Clive Greensmith: Yeah, I’m really excited about that. I’m so lucky to be moving to Los Angeles to be at the Colburn School. We went to the school as a quartet three years ago and had a wonderful time. I studied with Ronald Leonard – former principal cellist of the LA Philharmonic and one of the founders of the Colburn School, for a month at Aspen in 1985, and I have always respected his playing so deeply. I’ve always marveled at his craftsmanship as a player and his dedication, his commitment to music and to the instrument, to teaching and his knowledge of the orchestral rep, solo rep, chamber music and his tremendous experience. There’s a sense of excitement in finding an older colleague, a great artist from whom I can learn so much. I feel like I’m the lucky one to be able to still keep learning from new colleagues. The school is still undergoing some exciting changes. It’s just 10 years old, and there’s a sense of idealism there–and my colleagues really want to see the chamber music program evolve. It’s already very good. The school already boasts wonderful ensembles – the Calder and Calidore Quartets. I’m also really looking forward to working with my own students and having my own studio. I’ll still perform a good deal, but I know already that the schedule there will be more…humane–and I’ll be able to devote more time to everything that I do. I’m very excited. I love Los Angeles, and I love the downtown area. I’m very excited to be part of a school that’s really still developing. We were at Yale for 14 years in the quartet, and it was a great feeling to be part of such a well-established institution. The Colburn School is different. It’s much younger, and so there’s a sense of almost being a pioneer, with an emphasis on creativity, innovation and idealism. I like that. I feel ready to teach–to be a better teacher. I would like to share everything that I have learned in the quartet with younger players, and I’d like to give them the strength and the confidence to become better musicians. I love teaching, I really do. I might even say that in the long term, it’s more rewarding than performing, because you are hopefully able to make a lasting difference to other people’s lives.
Ovation Press: Your time is more available now, of course, because of the end of the quartet as an entity. How did you go about choosing the program for the last concert?
Clive Greensmith: Well, we had to be quite practical because we were very busy that last season. The whole year was crammed full of different dates and a wide variety of different repertoire. We had a cycle of Bartók to finish, and we had requests from promoters and festivals all over the world to play specific pieces. There were new commissions. So in the end it boiled down to, what had we been playing for most of the season, but also what did we feel strongly about from that pool of pieces? Our group always enjoyed Bartók, and we’d performed the cycle at the 92nd Street Y in New York. The 6th Quartet, which we’d been playing a good deal, was a natural choice. We’d toured with it in Australia and in Japan. We also had profound pieces such as the Schubert G Major and Beethoven op 131 – terrific ending pieces and arguably the most sublime in the entire repertoire. So in the end we decided that Bartók 6th had to be there, because we loved the piece and felt so strongly about it. The work seemed so appropriate for the final moments of our own quartet, the final quartet of Bartók’s cycle. It has a sense of melancholy to it, a sense of looking back. Not to try and sound too clichéd, but there’s something kind of bittersweet about it, and that seemed very appropriate for the quartet coming to its 44th season and then finishing. We’ve always played a lot of Haydn, and there’s no better Haydn Quartet than Opus 77 No. 1, a late work from a composer who was at that point in his 60s – the same time of life as our wonderful middle voices, Kazu and Kikuei. And then, following some rather heated discussions, we settled on the Debussy Quartet.
Ovation Press: What would be your advice to a young group that’s planning repertory together?
Clive Greensmith: Well, I think you have to know two things—what you play well and what you need to embrace, to seek the most profound kind of development as a group. I’d say, looking back at my 14 years with the group, one of the most contentious issues was the choice or repertoire. You have to balance out what you know the group plays well, and nobody plays everything equally well, with all of the other considerations and requests from promoters, in addition to potential recording work. There are always things that become clear after a while—we play Haydn better than we play Mozart, or we play Bartók better than we play Brahms. You have to balance what plays to the group’s strengths but what also the group needs to evolve and to grow and develop, and I can’t think of any quartet that I respect that sounds good, with a few notable exceptions, that didn’t grow out of the core repertoire. I don’t think it’s possible to put a Bartók quartet together well without seeing that line from Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, mid-19th century. It’s that much harder, the 20th century, if you bypass all of those composers and they’re not in the core repertoire–if they’re not in the repertoire of the group. Let’s say a promoter calls you up and says, “We’d like you to do the Beethoven cycle,” and you’re not quite ready—the experience of my own group was that there were many times where we weren’t ready and we just had to go for it, and you work extra hard. A good example: once we were asked to play Elliot Carter’s first quartet. The work sapped all of our rehearsal time for Beethoven op 127. Now, most of the audience wouldn’t notice if something went off course in the Carter, but during the same period we were on stage playing Beethoven op 127 and it wasn’t the level it should have been. The Carter had been so time-consuming that there was inadequate rehearsal time for the Beethoven. We were punished for that, and I felt bad about it. So there’s a real-life example. Having said that, a voracious appetite for all kinds of music is, in my opinion, an important attribute of a group that has determination and vision. If you want to succeed as a group, you will inevitably need to work every hour that God sends. Learn how to work with great efficiency and always think creatively about your programming. Hunt around for lesser-known composers and remember that you are their advocate. You must have a vision and a sense of missionary zeal.
Ovation Press: Do you have any advice for younger players that are trying to go about finding other players to form some type of a chamber group?
Clive Greensmith: I think the best, though not exclusive scenario is to find like-minded people at school or at a festival. Just go with your instincts, and if you feel you’ve found a colleague–and it’s mutual–that you can work well with, there’s no time like the present. And if you really feel a sense of vocation for the chamber music literature, specifically for quartet, which is a huge challenge on its own—it’s a huge commitment—then go for it. My personal sadness is that I didn’t have that. I was very fortunate; I joined a group that already had a name brand and that had laid the foundation stones way before I joined, and it’s some sadness to me knowing that I wasn’t part of it at the beginning, because you have the idealism and a sense of vision and a sense of optimism and of building something from the ground up. So, there can be nothing better than that. And I would say if you feel that sense of vocation, go for it. A few caveats: you may not necessarily play well with your best friend, or your girlfriend, or it might work really well. But make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. One thing I do feel strongly about is that you shouldn’t join a quartet because you didn’t make it as a soloist–you shouldn’t join a quartet because there’s nothing better on the horizon. I think you should be in a quartet because you love the repertoire and because you believe that it speaks to you and you believe that you have something to contribute. In an ideal world, people shouldn’t go to any job for the wrong reasons. Quartet playing, it’s tough enough anyway. But you shouldn’t be doing it because nothing better came along. Also, remember that as quartet players, you work for yourselves, for the group. You are all entrepreneurs working together in a very competitive field. Passion, creativity and commitment are as important as technical skill and intellectual rigor. When the chips are down, you will always be better off with colleagues that passionately love what they are doing and who wish to make a difference to the world through the gift of music.
Ovation Press: Staying with advice to younger players, what would be your advice to a young quartet that had just started about traveling together?
Clive Greensmith: I think you should be aware of the fact that when you’re young and perhaps less depends on the quartet—when you’re not married with children—there seems to be a lot less pressure, and that sense of responsibility to the group is not as great as it might be when you’re older and you have financial and personal responsibilities. Don’t be surprised if, as the quartet becomes busier or you grow into a more mature ensemble, you find yourself needing space, and understand that the time that you think you should be socializing actually might get cut down. It should be something that protects you from potential difficulties further along. I think if you make the mistake of being best friends with everybody in the group or just one person in the group, then that is potentially going to give you problems later on. You have to accept the fact that when you are working so closely together, you’re going to have conflict within the group. There’s no avoiding that. Far better to have that realization early on, and so when that inevitable honeymoon period is over, or when you have your first big bust-up with your old friend, that you’re able to move on from that, and it’s not catastrophic and you can still be friends and have a professional relationship without meeting for coffee or beer or shooting pool, relaxing together, going out for a meal–whatever it might be–that the relationship will continue and you retain that mutual respect.
Ovation Press: Those personal relationships are vital to chamber music. How do you maintain them while still giving and receiving critiques in a group?
Clive Greensmith: It’s very important to be able to be as direct as you need to be without being abusive. I do think, however, that there have to be boundaries that are agreed on and clearly understood. That’s very important, because a string quartet can so easily become a breeding ground for petty rivalries, paranoia and mistrust. Wow – it all sounds so alluring! Joking aside, there has to be a sense of what is permissible. You can tell anybody a variety of different things about their playing, but once you cross the boundary and it becomes either malicious or undermines confidence or [results in] behaving poorly onstage because something goes awry, you are in dangerous waters. For me, the stage is sacred, and once you’re onstage and you’re playing, you have to all be committed to playing together, no matter what lingers in your mind from the dress rehearsal. If you don’t have that discipline, you are asking for trouble.
But having said that, I think you should be able to be brutally honest with each other. And that can be tough, and to hear somebody tell you “You’re out of tune,” or “I don’t like your sound color,” or “You’re rushing”—it should be possible for you to be able to hear that and say, “Well, maybe he has a point?!.” And that’s how we get better. You go to the rehearsal every morning; there are three other people that can’t wait to tell you how to play your part. There should be no taboos in rehearsal. You should be able to say to the cellist, “I don’t like the support that you’re giving us here,” and you should be able to say to the first violinist, “You know, I’m just accompanying you, but I don’t like the way you’re playing your melody.” I think those things are all permissible. But how you say them is also very important and you must always think clearly and provide strong reasoning to back up your point of view. Good rehearsal technique will only be achieved by patiently working together. I think the important thing is try to avoid stirring things up. You know that something is going to rile your colleague and you know when that might get to them, then obviously hold back if you can. To err is human, and I freely admit my own guilt where this point is concerned.
Ovation Press: Those personal interactions are so important to quartet life. Do you have some humorous experiences to share with the readers that you had during the years that you performed with the Tokyo Quartet?
Clive Greensmith: There were so many lighthearted moments. Our violist, Kazu, told me once that he was playing Brahms’ Opus 67–big viola solo in the third movement—and he played it with appropriate emotional commitment and sincerity. After the movement the audience applauded, and the first violinist at that point turned to Kazu and said, “You should think about taking a bow.” So Kazu nodded, acknowledging the audience, and then they went on to finish the piece. Kazu felt so touched that the audience thought it was so good that they spontaneously applauded at the end of the third movement. And then afterwards the first violinist came up to him with a huge grin and said, “Oh, look at the program.” They’d only printed three movements! Poor Kazu was crushed. [Another time,] we were in the middle of Bartók 5 and we finished that hugely climactic moment on the penultimate page of the last movement—we were in Lucerne in a very beautiful hall—and the audience spontaneously clapped. We continue with a sort of barrel organ folk song, and then the movement begins again–it really finishes about a page later, but people actually laughed onstage at that point. It was great because it reminded me that during a live performance, it’s is important for people to enter into the experience in the right way—perhaps naïvely so, but with real enthusiasm–and that one should feel free to applaud at the wrong moment if the music moves you to do so. Haydn and Mozart’s music is so full of humor that it begs a reaction from the audience. The more spontaneous, the better! Finally, after a performance of the complete set of Haydn Quartets op 76 in Milan, we opened the door to our dressing room and were confronted by Alfred Brendel, holding the music in his hands and beaming! Now, that was truly memorable.
Ovation Press: Do you have recommendations for the quartets you coach about specific editions that you like for them to use?
Clive Greensmith: I think it’s way better to have an Urtext score. Having said that, there are often multiple Urtext scores and two versions of the same work often differ quite radically. So it’s no good you saying, “Get the Henle edition,” because for example, there’s now a really fine edition of the Beethoven quartets by Bärenreiter. Both Henle and Barenreiter have published the Schubert E flat Trio, but the latter is the one to go for if you wish to play the fourth movement with the famous cut restored. Recently, a student brought the Brahms E minor Sonata to a lesson using the Leonard Rose edition. It’s full of some wonderful ideas, but for a teenager, you’re partly looking at somebody else’s take on the piece. I like to cultivate in younger people, right from the beginning, critical thinking of their own. So it’s wonderful to look at the Rose editions or the Starker/Tortelier. But know that this is a different kind of study from looking at an Urtext score. It’s very important to think on your own two feet. However, staring at a blank page can also be a rather redundant way of learning a piece. Just because there are almost no markings in a Mozart score doesn’t mean that one is not allowed to trust one’s intuition and to indulge in a wide variety of meaningful, tasteful nuances of sound and timing. Students often confuse phrase markings with bowings and though I work hard to encourage a fine legato, we simply have to understand how to project our sound in a larger space, and that will inevitably require compromises and oftentimes, radical changes to the standard bowings. Sanitized playing that is devoid of expression is unbearable. Incidentally, there’s a marvelous DVD lecture by Malcolm Bilson entitled ‘Knowing The Score’ which is a fascinating, provocative and enlightening study on how to forge an interpretation using all the available sources.
Ovation Press: Touching on your previous life as an orchestral player, what type of tips can you give to people that are taking orchestra auditions?
Clive Greensmith: I think it depends where. I do see differences in England, in the UK, and Northern America. I don’t have too much experience in Europe, in orchestras in Germany and France, or Holland, but I would say these days the competition is so fierce you have to be meticulous. I mean, it’s almost like … I wouldn’t compare it to sports, but there has to be a sense of discipline and routine and structure, and you can’t just leave things to instinct. You’ve got to be meticulous in your preparation. I might suggest a lot of metronome practice; all the things that we work for in our solo playing come into play in the excerpts. They’re like little vignettes demonstrating one’s knowledge of a wide variety of styles. I think you should have a sense of your own individuality and that’s important, but when you’re going for an orchestra audition, you’ve got to set personal feelings aside a lot of the time and it’s got to be… I wouldn’t say neutral, but there has to be a strong sense of objective study. Your preparation has to be rigorous, recording yourself, trying mock auditions. Accept the fact that you will give many auditions and that you may not get anywhere at the beginning, but you should continue, be patient, and stick to your routines, and also go and work with people that are in orchestras, that have been through that process themselves, or teachers that are known for cultivating the right kind of work ethos. I have a large CD collection of orchestral music which expanded alarmingly fast during my trial period with the RPO. I even played along with the recordings!
Ovation Press: Now that we’ve covered all aspects of your career up to this point, what kind of plans do you have for your performing career now that the quartet is done?
Clive Greensmith: Well, Martin Beaver, Jon Kimura Parker and I have formed a new group – the Montrose Trio! Whilst recognizing that we don’t have the ambition to play the same kind of volume of concerts that we did in the quartet together, we feel that the idea of exploring a different kind of repertoire will be really stimulating, and this will be a serious endeavor. I think we still feel a little bit bereft, you know. As quartet players, we enjoyed this wonderful repertoire, and suddenly those pieces are not part of our daily lives any longer. The routines aren’t the same and there is a palpable sense of loss–no kidding. I mean, that’s impossible to replace. But I’ve really surprised myself with how much I’m enjoying working on the solo repertoire again. I never felt a strong sense of missionary zeal as a soloist, although I had my moments. I did some competitions when I was younger and had some success and played solo concerts here and there. I will be giving some recitals next season including my debut at the National Concert Hall in Taipei. There are two recording projects scheduled – a CD of chamber music and solo works by the wonderful British composer Gerard Schurmann and the Brahms and Beethoven clarinet trios with my friends Jon Nakamatsu and Jon Manasse. I love new music and am interested in learning a portion of the solo repertoire that I never had time to study. Talking of which, for the Taipei recital, I will be joined by my student Grace Ho, a wonderful player, in a performance of Jan Muller Wieland’s sonata for two celli. I understand that for me to keep growing, I need to keep playing, and I would love to play the Bach suites again and I’d like to keep playing concertos. It’s important for me to still keep my fingers in all kinds of repertoire to maintain my level as a cellist. It’s not quite over yet!
Ovation Press: Thank you for all of your insight!
Clive Greensmith: Thank you—I really enjoyed it!
About Dr. Nick Curry
Dr. Nick Curry is the Associate Professor of Cello at the University of North Florida. He is a founding member of Trio Florida with violinist Simon Shiao and pianist Gary Smart, featuring new compositions as well as timeless classics. From 2004-2007, he served as the professor of cello and the cellist in the Rawlins Piano Trio at the University of South Dakota.
Nick received his Bachelor of Music from Vanderbilt, where he studied with Grace Mihi Bahng. While at Vanderbilt, he served as Professor Bahng’s teaching assistant and was the recipient of the Jean Keller Heard Award for Excellence in string performance. Nick then served as Hans Jorgen Jensen’s teaching assistant for five years at Northwestern University, where he earned his Master of Music and Doctoral degrees. He also was the teaching assistant to Professor Jensen at the Meadowmount School of Music for four summers.
Nick has played in master classes for Lynn Harrell, Ralph Kirschbaum, Paul Katz, David Geber, the Emerson String Quartet, the Pacifica String Quartet, and the Blair String Quartet. Private studies have also included lessons with Harvey Shapiro, David Finckel, and John Kochanowski. He has presented in national conferences for both ASTA and CMS as well as regional and state conferences and is a sought after clinician, adjudicator and plans special projects for the state chapter of the American String Teachers Association. In 2012, he was awarded the Collegiate Leadership Award by Florida ASTA.
In the summers of 2012 and 2013 Dr. Curry was visiting faculty at the Meadowmount School of Music and was full-time faculty at the Tennessee Valley Music Festival. In February 2014, he will be on faculty at the Tennessee Cello Workshop.