THE FACTS: Born in Quebec, Canada. Education: The Curtis Institute of Music and McGill University. Prior to the Philharmonic: Montreal Symphony Orchestra and a regular substitute with The Philadelphia Orchestra; performed with The Haddonfield Symphony and Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal. At the Philharmonic: Joined July 2013.
HOW DID YOU START PLAYING VIOLA? I started violin at age five because I fell in love with a girl — Karen Gomyo, who today is a superstar soloist and close friend. I played violin through high school but got tired of the high pitch and show-off repertoire and quit music for two years. I traveled in Japan, then cooked at a Japanese restaurant in Montreal. The sushi chef, one of the best in Canada, was very serious about me, and he said I should pick sushi or music. I started having dreams that I was running through the forest looking for my instrument, and I’d wake up with anxiety. I realized I needed to choose music. My neighbor was a violist, and she suggested that I try viola. I loved it: it’s close to the human voice, and violists’ laid-back energy is more suited to my personality.
WHO WERE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL INFLUENCES? Michael Tree, my teacher at Curtis. I was always inspired by his positive spirit; he taught me viola and how to live life. Also André Roy, my viola teacher in Montreal, who built my roots as a violist.
MOST INSPIRING COMPOSERS? I love French music: I’m fascinated by Ravel and Debussy — the textures, the colors. And I love Mahler and Bruckner.
WHAT OTHER ACTIVITIES DID YOU DO IN HIGH SCHOOL? Starting at age 14 I studied to be a master of Japanese tea ceremony. I’d wake up at 8 a.m. on Sundays and take the subway one hour to do tea ceremonies with an old lady from Kyoto.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT WITH THE PHILHARMONIC: Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony with Manfred Honeck — I still have goosebumps when I think about it. It was spiritual, and one of the most incredible musical experiences of my life.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? Yoga; run in Central Park; cook for friends — like my own restaurant, complete with a menu; movies; photography; and tango — those musicians have an open spirit that I love and try to incorporate in my playing. Also I want to learn Portuguese and perfect my Japanese.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER GOTTEN? Simplify your life — advice from Michael Tree — and live with passion — advice from my favorite filmmaker, Pedro Almodóvar.
As of January 2016