Interview with Kikki Tso (2 of 2)



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00:00:00 - Update on the Progress of the Debussy Trio

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Partial Transcript: R: Alright, umm, so now that you’ve had a couple of rehearsals, umm, can you maybe share some thoughts on how you think the process is going so far?

T: It’s going really well! I think we all more or less have notes down and that sort of thing so umm, even last – last week when Shanshan and I and Dr. Kong met without Davis, you know, we were able to work on like, musical things, umm phrasing, articulation, that sort of thing, so I think it’s going really well.

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Kikki Tso provides an update on the progress of the Debussy Trio since the last interview.

Keywords: Articulation; Musicality; Phrasing; Well

Subjects: Music - Art Music, Western

00:00:29 - Goals for the Debussy Trio for the Rest of the Semester

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Partial Transcript: R: Umm, so going forward, umm up and through the concert what are your goals for the ensemble?

T: Umm, I think for at least the movement that we’ve been assigned to learn, it’s going to be mostly working out a lot of the transitions, just between, you know the first section into the poco piu lento, like those kind of transitions, umm to be able to cohesively play it from beginning to end, cuz we’re – I think we’re used to practicing it in sections and everything and you forget that you have to play it from beginning to end, so I think a lot of that, just solidify phrasing, maybe, like – like what we did today – listening to a recording, like “oh, like, that’s what they do” or “we could think about doing that” and like that sort of – those sort of things, umm, and, I guess learning the next movement would be (laughs) the next step but, yah I don’t think it will be bad, considering we have quite a bit of time.

Segment Synopsis: Kikki Tso discusses goals for the Debussy Trio for the rest of the semester.

Keywords: Goals; Listening; Movement; Phrasing; Poco piu lento; Transitions

Subjects: Music - Art Music, Western

00:01:25 - Communication and Tso's Role in the Debussy Trio

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Partial Transcript: R: Umm, how well do you think that you and the other members of the ensemble are communicating now that you’ve had a little bit of time to get to know each other?

T: I think it’s good, I mean I think we’re not afraid to call each other out which is always a good thing. It’s – it’s not fun, but it’s always a good thing, so I think – I think we’re getting along fine. I don’t think we have anybody who has too strong opinions, but at the same time it’s – we’re – ah – it’s – it’s nicer when you play in groups where people are more willing to talk and to share their opinions because beyond that you end up having to either say “let’s do it this way” because no one else is suggesting anything, so I think it’s good that we all kinda can bring something on to the table.

R: Umm, so I asked you a while – the first time that I spoke to you, umm but I’m going to ask you again to see if there’s any changes, umm, what do you think that your role has become in the ensemble?

K: Honestly, just that of the violinist. I don’t – I don’t really know – I know you’re probably trying to get to a more specific answer, but at the end of the day, you’re a member of a group, so it’s kind of like, you have your role in terms of the notes you play, or you know, whether you’re the top line and therefore, you know, the one to be more voiced, er, that sort of thing, but at the end of the day, you’re – you’re a – a piece of a group, if you will, so it’s kind of, I don’t know how to phrase that.

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Kikki Tso discusses communication between members of the Debussy Trio as well as commenting on her role in the ensemble.

Keywords: Communication; Opinions; Role; Share; Violinist; Voicing

Subjects: Music - Art Music, Western

00:02:50 - Personal Growth through the Ensemble

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Partial Transcript: R: Umm, can you, umm maybe talk a little bit about what you personally hope to gain from being in this ensemble?

T: Mostly, I think just getting back into playing has been a big thing, previously, the past three years since I’ve been out of college, I – there wasn’t, between work and that sort of thing, I don’t have time or I don’t – I can’t commit to a regular rehearsal or even, let’s be honest, I don’t get to practice that much in between even our rehearsals and coachings, but just being able to get it out and play and doing it in the context of a group is always helpful, because it’s – it’s a lot harder to just say “oh I’m gonna go practice by myself for an hour” or something, umm whereas “oh we have a rehearsal, we have a coaching,” you know there’s set – at a bare minimum you’ll be taking your instrument out twice a week, so there’s that, umm but I think most of it is just kind of getting plugged back to like the university community and getting involved in music again, cuz that was such a big part of my life before I started working full-time, yah.

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Tso discusses that which she hopes to gain from being a member in the Debussy Trio ensemble.

Keywords: Coaching; Ensemble; Gain; Involved; Music; Practice; Rehearsal

Subjects: Music - Art Music, Western

00:03:56 - Dr. Kong's Role in the Debussy Trio

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Partial Transcript: R: Umm, can you talk a little bit about Dr. Kong’s role?

T: Mmm hmm! So Dr. Kong, as the ensemble coach, her role is that of – I think she – it’s almost – I would approach it like every coaching we have with her is almost like a master class, basically she can bring things to the table – and she’s very good at both the technical and the musical aspects – so the technical aspects – I think it’s – sometimes it’s a little challenging in trios – like especially if – like I don’t see the score the way the pianist does, so like that today, when I was asking Shanshan like “oh, like do you have that tied over?” it’s because I have the little – umm cues, so that I could see that that’s how it was written in my part and I just wanted to check and make sure that was what was written in her part, but that’s something Dr. Kong would easily be able to like, catch on to, umm being a pianist, so that’s always helpful, but also I think Dr. Kong’s also very good at talking about like visual cues and kind of like, the need to like, communicate, uh, visually with each other, umm because if you think about it, in like, orchestral music or that sort of thing, you like look to the conductor, you might look to your section leader for cues, but you don’t quite do it on the same level that you do in a chamber ensemble – there’s not really a need to, umm so she’s very good at reminding you to like, look up, and umm, communicate with your other members, so I think her’s is that of uh – the – like someone giving a master class – she’s able to give both like technical pointers and like musical – and things to think about, yah.

Segment Synopsis: Tso discusses the role that the ensemble's coach, Dr. Kong, in the ensemble.

Keywords: Coach; Communicate; Cues; Master class; Musical; Technical

Subjects: Music - Art Music, Western

00:05:27 - Communication Between Members of the Ensemble While Playing

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Partial Transcript: R: So going off that, can you talk a little about how during the rehearsal you guys are communicating for those transitions that you were talking about?

T: Uh – like when we’re playing?

R: Yah.

T: Ok, umm, yah, I think most of it – so from like the beginning – the very top I guess, Davis and I play pizzicatos together, so I give a cue, we play that together, but a lot of that is we look at each other, umm and I give the cue. When they go into the un poco piu lento, that’s just Shenshen and Davis playing. She gets the downbeat, so she’ll give that, as her – and he’ll come in, but they do have to still be together on terms of the tempo-wise and that sort of thing, umm but I think it helps that she has big block chords and he’s, you know, after the downbeat, so there’s a little bit of room there but e-even when I come in afterwards, umm, I get the cue as well, so a lot of it is – is – is visual, you – and breathing, we – we breathe whenever before we come in, more audibly than normal. Yah.

R: Cool. That’s all I have. Thank you!

T: No problem!

Segment Synopsis: In this section, Tso discusses the methods by which the members of the ensemble coordinate entrances and stay in rhythm while playing.

Keywords: Breathing; Communication; Cue; Downbeat; Un poco piu lento; Visual

Subjects: Music - Art Music, Western