Conservatory Spotlight: Kako Miura

Kako Miura, violinist, is in her second year of a Master of Music degree at Colburn. She studies with Robert Lipsett.

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

Where are you from?
I moved around a lot growing up. I was born in Tokyo, Japan, and spent much of my early childhood there. Then I grew up mostly in Sydney, Australia, and went to high school and college in New York City. I also lived in Evanston, IL for two years as a child, where I first started playing the violin.

Why did you choose to study at Colburn?
I chose to study at Colburn for many reasons: to study with my teacher, Mr. Lipsett; the incredibly high standard of the school; the faculty and staff’s investment in the success and well-being of each and every student; the abundance of performance opportunities; and the resources and facilities available to students. I guess Colburn has it all! Not to mention I love the weather in Southern California.

Besides the Baroque Ensemble, are you involved in any other activities here?
In addition to orchestra and chamber music, some of my other activities include teaching in Colburn’s Teaching Fellows program. I love teaching―it’s really helpful for solidifying concepts that I am thinking about in my own playing, because it requires me to be very clear and concise about my demands; I also find a great sense of fulfillment in helping the children discover the excitement of music. I occasionally coach the Community School’s Colburn Chamber Orchestra, which I have greatly enjoyed as well.

Why do you enjoy playing in the Baroque Ensemble?
I love chamber music, so a big part of the appeal is being able to play with my colleagues in a more intimate setting. Each individual plays a crucial role in making the music come together, and there is no conductor, so all members of the group must be keenly attuned to each other. It’s quite involved!

What is your interest in Baroque music?
I think it’s important to have an idea of what a composer might have envisioned for a piece when composing it, and studying the music through a “historical performance” lens helps me to get closer to that. There was a really interesting video that I came across a while ago about the way people spoke English back in Shakespeare’s time, and how studying English pronunciation from back then revealed certain rhymes and rhythms that were completely lost when read with a modern English pronunciation. I think there are certainly analogous situations in music as well.

What have you learned from playing with the Baroque Ensemble?
I have learned a lot about the idiosyncrasies of playing in older styles, such as phrasing―some of which have been helpful in developing my “modern” playing as well. In addition, my time in the Baroque Ensemble has exposed me to numerous great pieces of music that are not necessarily in the “standard” classical repertoire, and that I therefore might not have otherwise known. And there are so many interesting pieces out there! Aside from the obvious benefit of learning to play in a different style, I would say that that has been a huge takeaway.

What is the piece you’re performing with them on Saturday? Why do you like playing it?
I will be performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto in A Minor for Flute, Violin, and Harpsichord. Bach is my all-time favorite composer, so I am always excited to play his music. One of the things that I love about Bach’s music is that it makes perfect sense―it is so well-crafted, in my opinion, that the best thing for a performer to do is let the music speak for itself, and try not to get in the way of it. It also features the harpsichord very prominently, so I have been enjoying watching and listening to Mr. Pritchard play it.

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