Music Academy Spotlight: Miray Ito

Miray Ito, 16, studies violin with Robert Lipsett in the Music Academy. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, she has been at Colburn for four years.

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

Why did you decide to study at Colburn?
When I started to become serious in my music studies, I heard about the high reputation of Colburn, and it offered me the vision that I could pursue music in a serious environment amongst many other talented young musicians. And fortunately I had a lesson with my current teacher Robert Lipsett, and I really benefited from his teaching and thought that I could improve in so many ways as a musician.

What is your favorite thing about Colburn?
I love the environment that the school offers. The weather in LA is very nice, and it’s in the center of the arts. Walt Disney Concert Hall is right across the street where students can access and see world-class concerts at discounted rates.

There are often special Q&A sessions in the school with renowned musicians such as Itzhak Perlman, Ray Chen, and Leila Josefowicz. Last November, I had the chance to listen to Hilary Hahn rehearse with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and she also gave a master class and a Q&A session.

She’s one of my favorite violinists, and it was such a great opportunity to see one of my idols up close, and I love that Colburn offers these kinds of experiences because they become one of my biggest inspirations and help me grow the most.

What has it been like performing with the Academy Virtuosi?
It’s been a wonderful experience. I feel so honored to be chosen to solo with them because it’s no experience like any other, getting to perform with my colleagues and friends.

It’s actually a very challenging and a learning experience to perform in and with a conductorless ensemble. You learn to take leadership and to share music ideas and feel the music together as one group. So I feel that process has been very fulfilling for me and it’s been rewarding to rehearse with everybody.

What are you performing with the Virtuosi?
The Schubert Rondo in A Minor. I found the piece when I was listening to one of my favorite violinists, and I thought, well there’s repetitive phrases, but within those phrases the key changes and the mood changes a lot, and it’s been cool to find out how I can bring those differences out and make it more interesting.

How did you start playing violin?
My first inspiration was a concert that I attended with my parents to see their friend’s daughter perform the violin. I was three years old, and I probably didn’t know where I was or what piece she was playing, but I loved the sound that came from her instrument.

And after that event, my feelings were so unsettled that I couldn’t stop thinking about the violin and, with my constant requests, my parents finally gave in and let me into the world of music.

What do you hope to do with your music in the future?
Right now, I strive to become a musician who can stir people’s souls. I have a desire to teach as well, and I love chamber music, but I hope to spread the joy and power of music through many different outlets.

What are your interests outside music?
I love to do jazz hip-hop dance. I like it because it takes me away from the busy world, and it gives me the energy that I can use to transfer into my violin playing.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding students, faculty, and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.