Community School Violinists Prepare for their Performance with Anne Akiko Meyers

Violinists Katherine Zhu, Jae Yeon Hong, and Natalie Boberg

I’m really glad I get to work with one of my role models. Natalie Boberg

Three talented violinists in the Community School of Performing Arts will recognize a dream this month: performing side-by-side with world-renowned violinist Anne Akiko Meyers. Katherine Zhu, Jae Yeon Hong, and Natalie Boberg will each play a movement with the famed soloist in a program featuring Bach’s Double Violin Concerto at Taste of Colburn on March 18.

Soloists and alternates for each movement were selected through auditions during February. Last Sunday, Community School violin instructor Aimée Kreston led a master class in performing with an orchestra and a partner for those students in Mayman Hall. She coached each student through the process of soloing with an orchestra, from walking on stage “with purpose” and shaking leaders’ hands, to exuding confidence and final bows.

For the students, the masterclass offered another valuable chance to hone their performance skills and get comfortable with the piece in front of an audience. Following the class, I caught up with each soloist as they shared a bit about themselves and their upcoming appearance with Anne Akiko Meyers. The interviews below have been lightly edited for length, clarity, and style.
I. Vivace
Katherine Zhu, 15
Studies with Samuel Fischer at Colburn and Hernan Constantino in San Diego

What are you most looking forward to about Taste of Colburn?
I’m so excited that it is Taste of Colburn, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Community School. To be chosen to play with Anne Akiko Meyers – who got her start here – at such a big event really inspires me.

We’re three weeks out from Taste of Colburn. What in particular are you going to be focusing on until then?
I’ve been looking up Anne Akiko Meyers’s performances, paying attention to the way she plays and her style. I’m going to study that and try to match that as much as possible, while, of course, still playing the way I play. The partnership between the two violin parts is so important.

Was this master class valuable for you?
Performances are always different than when you’re playing alone. It’s a different environment, different atmosphere, so to have experience performing the piece before Taste of Colburn is very helpful. The more that you perform a piece, the more comfortable you’ll be in the actual performance.

You travel up to study at Colburn from San Diego. What makes it worth the trip?
There are so many chances to perform, accompanists always ready, and the faculty here is amazing. I have another teacher in San Diego, Hernan Constantino, and he really helped foster my musicality and made me love music. Coming up here has helped develop different aspects of my playing.

II. Largo ma non tanto
Jae Yeon Hong, 16
Studies with Aimée Kreston

How does it feel to be performing with Anne Akiko Meyers at Taste of Colburn?
I’m just so excited by the fact that I’m playing with her and really looking forward to it. It’s such an honor to perform with a really great violinist. It’s going to be the first time doing that, playing with a soloist of that caliber.

Is there anything in particular you’ll be working on between now and the performance?
Personally, for the slow second movement, I’m going to work on improving and refining my sound so that I can really perform at my best at Taste of Colburn.

Was this master class helpful for you as you prepare?
It was really helpful. Before this, I’ve performed in Friday Night Recitals in the Community School and my teacher [Aimée Kreston] has me play a lot here at Colburn. Performing often really helps me learn how to play well and confidently for other people and in front of an audience.

III. Allegro
Natalie Boberg, 17
Studies with Aimée Kreston

How does it feel knowing in three weeks you’ll be performing with Anne Akiko Meyers?
It’s an honor. I’ve admired her playing for years. I love her rich tone and her passion for the music. It’s so evident in all of her performances. She’s also a great female role model for me. We are starting to see more, but there still aren’t a whole lot of women holding these major roles of soloists, conductors, and principal positions in orchestras. So I’m really glad I get to work with one of my role models.

Why did you choose to audition specifically for the third movement?
I love all three movements, but the third movement is really exciting. It closes the concert and really leaves an impression on people.

What will you be working on between now and the performance?
I’m looking forward to working with Ms. Meyers to make the piece our own and give a really exciting performance. I’ll also be working on some details on my end. Ms. Kreston and I play through the piece in lessons, and I am going to be doing more performing. The more you perform, the more comfortable you are.

Any other thoughts on the piece or the performance?
The Bach Double Concerto is very special to me. My previous teacher, [Community School instructor] Michael McLean is a Bach scholar, and he taught me a lot about the nuances of playing Bach. So the music is in me, and I’m excited to share that.