Interview with Kikki Tso (1 of 2)



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00:00:00 - Non-Musical Background

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Partial Transcript: So first off, if you could, umm, just tell me a little about yourself in general, non-musically?

Non-musically? Umm, so I came to the University of Richmond fall of 2011, umm, I came on a music scholarship so music played a big part into that, but the other part was umm I was an accounting major, so umm yah so I split my time between two halves of campus, umm music is a big part of my life, so outside of music, I guess, I could - I come from a big family and we all play instruments. umm But Yah uh let’s see I guess after graduating I work right now as a certified public accountant at a - a CPA firm here in Richmond so I mostly go and audit companies, not for profits, just about any entity except for banks umm so yah that’s what I do now.

Segment Synopsis: Kikki gives an overview of her non-musical background and her career field.

Keywords: Accounting; Audit; CPA; Music Scholarship; University of Richmond

00:01:07 - Musical Background

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Partial Transcript: Ok, and then, can you tell me about your musical background

Ok, I started playing violin when I was four, and uh played all the way through – through college, through now, essentially um but yah, I had siblings who played, older brother played the violin, also learned a bit of piano one year when I was nine and one year when I was fifteen, umm and I uh I yah I went around to colleges to audition for music schools but wasn’t really interested in umm making that a profession, umm I had taught a lot in high school, umm kids as young as three and some adults as old as you know, 45, and it was fun and it was very umm engaging and it was, you learned a lot of life lessons that had nothing really to do with music, umm but in the end, so my teacher in high school, umm he’s actually the umm, the one of the concert masters at the national orchestra in DC at the Kennedy Center, and he told us umm if you can’t imagine doing yourself anything – if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything apart from music then, like, yes, go and do music, but there’s so many other things you can be doing, so for me part of it was kind of, I had spent up to that point fifteen years of my life doing music and I could have gone to music school and done more music and been a better musician, but for me it was kind of like I felt like college should have been an opportunity to do something completely different that I hadn’t done before, so that’s where the accounting came in, and the practicality of making a living. But um, yah that’s mostly my music history, and after college, I think I’ve done a lot of chamber ensembles and orchestra at U of R, and umm I haven’t done quite as much since leaving school, partially because of travel and work schedule, but yah, that’s where we’re at today

Segment Synopsis: Kikki Tso discusses her background, choices, and experiences in music.

Keywords: Audition; Chamber Ensembles; College; Kennedy Center; Musician; Orchestra; Piano; Teach; Violin; Work

00:03:11 - Return to Chamber Music

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Partial Transcript: So have you, umm done chamber ensemble after college, like have you been back to this group before?

No. no I - I actually moved out to Winchester VA which is like north west of here, umm it’s the same city where like Shenandoah Conservatory is at, but umm I didn’t I dint exactly have the time to devote to committing to a regular group umm so it’d be like I practiced a lot on my own and I have some siblings, younger siblings who play instruments so one of my brothers plays cello so when I went back to Maryland - back home - I'd sometimes accompany him on the piano things and like that but I didn’t do formal like week to week chamber groups

So what brought you back to this now?

Well. you want the real story – or the – ok so I’d always planned to come back to Richmond, umm for my work, for their headquarter office was in Winchester so that’s why I moved up there. Coming back I figured it would be easier to plug into a group just cuz I knew Dr. Kong and I played in so many chamber groups in the past, umm so I actually saw her out, I was at a Richmond symphony concert a couple-- gosh a couple months ago before the summer started and I saw her and said like “oh yah like yah it would be fun to do chamber” and she said like “oh yah like let me know” and then a couple days later I got an email and I was assigned to a group so that’s how we got to here but umm yah it was mostly, it’s - it’s an easier way to , especially with chamber groups and I know working with umm college students like I feel awful cuz my schedule is notoriously bad and I travel a lot and I just can’t make the kind of day time week day time frame that is very convenient for college students so because of that I was kind of like maybe I shouldn’t do this now, but Dr. Kong said that wouldn’t be a problem so here we are

Segment Synopsis: Kikki Tso explains the circumstances which brought her back to the UR chamber ensemble program.

Keywords: Chamber Ensemble; Dr. Kong; Richmond Symphony Orchestra; Time; Winchester, VA

00:05:03 - Benefits and Advantages of Chamber Ensemble Study

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Partial Transcript: That’s great. umm so what did you like about being in chamber ensemble when you were a student?

Umm I’ve always found chamber – so I did orchestra and chamber music – I was in a string quartet for all of high school umm and in a large orchestra in the DC area for the last two years of orchestra. I’ve always noticed that you learn far more in a chamber group because you’re- there’s no cover you have to know your part, it's very exposed, umm at the same time I feel you tend to learn more umm because of that so when I was, my last year, actually at U of R I did a whole year of chamber music with uh two of my best friends and uh they were all piano trios umm but what I learned from a lot of those experiences in the past and currently is you learn more in part because there are fewer people, there’s less cover, you have to know your part and you feel bad if you don’t know your part and you should, umm, but yah, I think - think it's - part of it is you can dialogue a lot more, in a bigger setting like an orchestra you know a lot of it filters through the principles and the conductor you don’t get a ton of input into how a certain passage is played or, you know, its -you – it’s not about being individual – an individual in an orchestra, cuz you need to blend in your section and then therefore blend with whatever else is going on. With chamber, chamber music, uh you compare like what youre playing, you might have somebody else in your group who’s playing something similar, and then you can talk about how you wanna do that. You get far more of an opinion and a say in what happens in a smaller group, just kinda like group projects, or things like that when there’s less people you have more control, you have more say. But yah I just I just found that there’s so much repertoire for chamber groups and you just learn so much more and I think it’s- it’s a more efficient use of time then, I think I’ve been in to too many orchestra rehearsals where it’s - I think it’s just a waste of time, cuz you know you can only do so much, if you know, if sections don’t know their part or that sort of, or sometimes its just a matter of you’re just waiting for other sections to work out something, and you really can’t do anything so yah

Segment Synopsis: Kikki Tso explains her opinions on the advantages of chamber ensembles over larger ensembles and the benefits of chamber work in it's own right.

Keywords: Chamber Ensemble; Dialogue; Discussion; Efficient; Individual; Input; Learn

00:07:26 - Thoughts on the First Rehearsal of the Debussy Trio Chamber Group

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Partial Transcript: So can you tell me if you have any thoughts about how the first rehearsal went?

umm it was not bad, umm, I think it’ll be interesting to see how quickly we can actually put the piece together, umm what’s interesting about this piece is – I hadn’t heard of it before, I’m not as familiar with Debussy but umm, I think its very important to come prepared to rehearsals, so I think it’ll be good to see how far we can progress in just a couple of weeks, and I think especially I think next week, we aren’t actually meeting cuz I’ll be out of town, but umm, it’ll be helpful to, cuz I think it's hard to put something together when we don’t all have our parts down, so I think it’ll be good the next rehearsal to be able to build on you know we can understand I think we also have different levels of chamber music experience, so kind of being able to understand that and being on the same level and understanding where everyone is coming from I think it'll just make it more a productive session but yah.

Segment Synopsis: Kikki Tso discusses the first rehearsal of the Debussy Chamber Group.

Keywords: Build; Experience; Prepared; Productive

00:08:29 - Roles and Interpersonal Relationships in an Ensemble

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Partial Transcript: What does the word “ensemble” mean to you?

Ensemble? a group

I only have two more questions. First, umm, what do you - what do you see as your role in the chamber group?

What do I see as my role? Alright I’ll be honest, violinists are – are notorious for having to lead a lot just because I think the nature of our instrument and the way it’s, the- the- the line that we tend to play and the way in which we, you know, sit, our position, it’s easier for us to give cues. Umm, I th--From what it sounds like, I think Davis and I have a little more experience, having played in groups together and I think that’s very, I think that string players tend to have a more experience in that just because umm piano is a very self-accompanying instrument, but I think it’ll, I think for us a lot of it will be trying to figure out coordinating our parts, and then also fitting in the pianists parts and kind of trying to, I don’t know, I think, everyone has to kind of just, I think, chamber music, everyone should kind of have a say in anything and everything umm, especially when there’s so few people, so I think umm, I don’t know exactly what my role is, I’m the role of the violinist, but I think it’s-it’s mostly, kind of being able to facilitate things, or because Davis and I have been through the process of rehearsals and coachings we understand what that process is like, hopefully, being able to help the pianist, help umm her with you know how that works, and what our – what are our expectations and how can we be realistic about our goals and that sort of thing, but yah.

Ok and then, lastly, umm, do you think that there’s, any kind of, uh importance, in terms of how the performance is perceived, to the relationships between the members of an ensemble?

how—wait sorry say that again

So do you that there is , uh , can the audience tell the differences in relationships between the members of an ensemble, can they- is there a benefit to having a close knit relationship personally?

Yes. Yes, I would say definitely, umm I think often times, in the groups I’ve played in where I know the people I play with very well or on a personal level, um I think we take more freedom with each other, so sometimes there’s wasted time cuz we’re just bickering about who’s right and who’s wrong, but at the same time there’s that freedom to - be honest about how we feel about something, or you know - we – we - we’re more direct, let’s put it that way, umm, and I think when you, truly enjoy what you’re doing and the time that you rehearse is not just a rehearsal that you go to, you go into it with a different energy, a different perspective umm with people that you don’t know as well, there’s only been a couple groups that I’ve been a part of where I don’t really know the people im playing with but I think, again, it’s always an opportunity, so um, I think it’ll be interesting, mostly just because our particular group, we have two community members, essentially, who aren’t gonna be plugged in the way three students would be, umm, but at the same time I think it’ll be helpful having the balance of experience, so umm, yah I -I do think it makes a difference, yah.

That’s all I have for now, Thank you!

Yah no problem, no problem.

Segment Synopsis: Kikki discusses her role in the Debussy Trio and the impact of close interpersonal relationships on the success of a chamber ensemble.

Keywords: Chamber Music; Community members; Coordinating; Ensemble; Expectations; Experience; Facilitate; Personal level; Rehearsal; Relationship; Role; Violinist