At what age and how did you choose your instrument?

I began playing the violin when I was 10 years old. When I was around 6, I had started taking piano lessons, then, for some reason I don’t recall, I began to play the accordion. It was fun – great for elementary school talent shows! - but I was, to say the least, not thrilled with the repertoire for that instrument. So I switched to violin, because I wanted to play an orchestral instrument. I had always loved the sound of the violin, and my older brother, who is a wonderful pianist, was the accompanist for some really fine violinists from his high school. One of them, Don Kramer, became my first violin teacher. He went on to have a long career with the Utah Symphony.

What is your full-time profession and how do you balance it with other commitments?

I am an attorney, specializing in music for film and television. Most of my career was spent working in the music department of Sony Pictures Entertainment. I retired from that position in 2018, so now I do occasional lawyer work from home, and I sit on several charity boards – mostly involved in music and music education. Even when I was logging long hours at Sony, I always played in lots of orchestras and chamber groups (and one 20s band), both as an artistic outlet and as a social activity. I met my wife, Lisa, playing in Santa Monica Symphony. She claims I was only there trolling for girls. That’s partially, but not entirely, true (the “only” part is an exaggeration). There was a time, during my first year of law school, when I stopped playing the violin to concentrate on my studies, and I learned at least two things from that experience: (1) that a life without music was completely unacceptable for me, and (2) that musical activities, even though they technically took time away from studying, actually helped me to focus and be more efficient in my schoolwork. 

What does chamber music mean to you?

I believe that great music is the hallmark achievement of humanity, and it is all about connections: the harmonic resonances that connect us to the universe at large; the mystical auditory and neurological triggers that connect music directly to our emotions; the links transcending time and space that connect performers to composers; the magical, transitory vibrations of air that connect audiences and artists. Chamber music adds another, interpersonal connection among a small group, working and playing together to make all the other connections work out. Symphonic and solo playing both have their own unique delights, but chamber music is something joyfully intimate and special.

What motivated you to join the VCO?

I met Zain in 1994, when we were playing together in a chamber orchestra in Orange County, and we have been friends ever since. When he told me that he was starting up a new chamber orchestra, I immediately wanted to be a part of it. 

Do you have any advice for young musicians?

I think that with a pursuit as difficult and demanding as music, it’s easy to get absorbed in conquering the technical challenges and lose sight of the communication of one’s own unique expression that is really the core goal of the process. Be the most well-rounded person you can be. Everything that you can learn about life, culture, humor, tragedy, art, nature, empathy, will inform what you can do as a musician. I have a friend who refers to some professional players as “owner/operators” of their instruments, with as little enthusiasm and artistic integrity as a forklift driver. That should never be the case, even sitting in the back of an orchestra. Whether you end up having a career in music or you keep music as an avocation, it can and should be a lifelong source of enjoyment and beauty. 

Updated September 2019