Violinist Jennifer Choi, whom you know from having been a member of ETHEL, is out and about working on various things that will be coming up the pike in days to come–Among these things is the premiere of a work by Daniel Felsenfeld titled Bad Coffee Serenade with Ensemble 212 this Saturday, March 23rd, 8 PM at Good Sheperd-Faith Presbyterian Church. Click here or on the bottom link for tickets/info.
Jennifer spoke to me via Skype.
CM: Can you talk about this World Premiere piece by Daniel Felsenfeld you are playing this Saturday?
Jennifer: I’m really excited about performing it! It’s very rhapsodic, full of energy, fast-moving, like caffeine. Daniel has sort of a complexity in his writing, and his language is very unique in that way, but he’s able to capture fun elements, as well–the spirit of the music comes out. When you mix that in there, it kind of goes with the title if you ask me!
CM: Why is it called the BAD Coffee Serenade? Is it supposed to be about bad TASTING coffee?
Jennifer: I don’t know, I didn’t ask him that, but it’s kind of like everybody’s had bad coffee or bad coffee days in their lives, and I look at it like “that’s a fun title!”–I like the title, it has a nice ring to it! [laughs] And almost everyone has had their fair share of bad coffee, so you can relate!
The nice part is I asked Daniel if I could add a cadenza–he was really open to that idea, and I’ve been writing things out and improvising, but I’m so used to improvising that it sounds better than the stuff I’ve written down, but I’m really trying to be very disciplined to do what I write, so I don’t know what’s going to happen at the concert, but–I can’t tell if it’s going to be improvised or not, but I’m hoping–I don’t think it will matter, no one will know! [laughs] It’s great because it was like “we’re collaborating!”, and that’s just exactly what you want to hear from a composer, that kind of open mindset, and it’s made it a lot more pleasurable too.
Daniel Felsenfeld on the Bad Coffee Serenade:
“It’s a piece that was to be part of a series of works enumerating my own personal vices. Fortunately it never got past the Nicotine Sinfonietta. It’s not big–I even called it a “mini-concerto” for a while–but is compressed. And it’s almost two decades old!”
Café Concert (Courtesy of WQXR): Jennifer Choi “For You”
CM: Is there any kind of solo stuff in the works, a la Violectrica?
Jennifer: I don’t have a solo project right now that’s going to happen very soon, but I have ideas in mind for what I’d like to do, and I’m still letting them brew because I’ve been playing with groups for so long (ETHEL and also the touring group for South Pacific), and these days I’m more full-time with Either/Or Ensemble and I also play with Classical Jam, so it’s just been a lot of chamber music…
CM: And Kathy Supové too…
Jennifer: Yeah, and Kathy Supové! We’re doing a concert in May!
I’ve been working on solo rep, but it’s going to be a little while longer before I can make another album and figure out what it’s going to be all about. I have ideas brewing, but they are still just little seeds. But the great thing is I’ve been able to collaborate with amazing musicians while I was in ETHEL–We played with this Native-American flutist named Robert Mirabal, and I’m hoping we do something together again in the future. I want to do some stuff with world music as well as more classical.
CM: Any more stuff for John Zorn?
Jennifer: There’s a new string quartet of his called The Alchemist. I think it’s one of his best works! I think he thinks it could be one of his best works too! It’s actually his 60th birthday this year! So we’re doing a European tour this Summer, and we’re doing a Canadian tour in May, and along with The Alchemist, we’ll probably play some of his improv pieces as well.