THE FACTS: Born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Attended the Peabody Institute, studying with Laurence Lesser and Stephen Kates, and Yale University as a Wardwell Fellow and Houpt Scholar, studying with Aldo Parisot. Prior to the Philharmonic: soloist, and prize winner in major competitions. Most recent recording: the complete cello and piano works of Chopin, with Garrick Ohlsson. At the Philharmonic: Joined in 1996; solo debut in 1997 in Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with Kurt Masur.
EARLIEST MUSICAL MEMORIES: My mother singing lullabies to me, and my parents taking me to a revival of Porgy and Bess when I was five
WHEN DID YOU START LEARNING AN INSTRUMENT? I began the violin at 9, switched to the cello at 12, and began private lessons at 16. I thought the violin sounded shrill. I regret that decision every time I hear a Mozart violin concerto!
WHO WERE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCES? Judy Garland, Jascha Heifetz, Mstislav Rostropovich, Glenn Gould, and The Beatles
HOW MANY CELLOS DO YOU HAVE? Three: a 1754 Guadagnini for most of my concert use, a 2010 James McKean for backup, and a Yamaha folding electric for practice and travel
YOU HAD A MAJOR SOLO CAREER — WHY DID YOU JOIN THE PHILHARMONIC? It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join one of the great orchestras of the world, and it gave me more time to spend with my family. And I still occasionally go back on the road as a recitalist, soloist, or chamber musician.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE ORCHESTRA: Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony with Kurt Masur in Cologne in 1998
WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES AS PRINCIPAL CELLO? Playing solos to a high standard, and taking care of section bowings and divisi assignments
WHAT ARE YOU ESPECIALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS SEASON? John Adams’s Absolute Jest. I’m part of the New York Philharmonic String Quartet, and we’re making our official debut as the solo ensemble in this piece.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? k.d. lang’s album of Canadian ballads, Hymns of the 49th Parallel. I always learn something about lyric phrasing from gifted pop artists like her.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE IF NOT A MUSICIAN? An airline pilot or a delivery captain for offshore yachts
HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR SUMMERS? I sail alone along the Atlantic coast in my 38-foot sloop. It clears my head and connects me to the primal power and beauty of the natural world.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO OUTSIDE OF WORK? Running, dancing, and sailing
As of March 2017