Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Interview with Yuki Numata Resnick, Assistant Professor of Music, Violin & Viola Performance at UB

Yuki Numata Resnick is rapidly gaining attention as a charismatic virtuoso, having performed as a soloist with the New World Symphony, the University at Buffalo's Slee Sinfonietta, the Wordless Music Orchestra, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra and the Eastman Philharmonia Orchestra. With a penchant for performing new music, she is a member of the Talea Ensemble and performs frequently with Alarm Will Sound and Ensemble Signal. Yuki has appeared at numerous summer festivals including Music in the Vineyards, Tanglewood, Music Academy of the West, the Banff Centre and in recent summers, she has been teaching and performing at the Wellesley Composers Conference and UB's Summer String Workshop. Having been a New York freelancer for several years, in addition to her new music and classical playing, Yuki has also had the pleasure of performing and recording for bands and artists including Passion Pit, The National (where she met her husband), Grizzly Bear, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, and John Cale.

Originally from Vancouver, BC, Yuki holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. Her primary teachers include Zvi Zeitlin, Andrew Jennings and Gwen Thompson. She also spent three years living in the sunny paradise of South Beach where she was a fellow at the New World Symphony. Having happily traded her cozy one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn for an entire floor of a house in Buffalo's Elmwood Village, she is very excited to be starting a new life here in town. Yuki shares her three-bedroom palace with her husband Kyle Resnick, both of whom are thrilled to be welcoming their first baby around Thanksgiving of this year.

How did you come to be interested in contemporary music?

I first became interested in contemporary music when I went to the Eastman School of Music for my undergraduate degree. There was always much excitement and energy surrounding the new music scene there so it was an undeniable draw. In a curiously dorky way, it was almost as if all the "cool kids" were playing new music!

I had a lot of terrific experiences at ESM when it came to experimenting with contemporary music. I played with the student-run ensemble, Ossia, which collaborated with Alarm Will Sound in a recording of Steve Reich's Desert Music. I also played with conductor, Brad Lubman's school-based group, Musica Nova, which performed regularly throughout the year. It was through Musica Nova that I had my first run-ins with the music of John Zorn and Charles Wuorinen and I haven't looked back since!

Do you still have a strong relationship as a performer and listener with traditional/classical music?

Definitely. With the violin in particular, there is a such a sense of history with its large traditional repertoire and the many great violinists who have come before, that when I was a student, I treated this historical connection as baggage. It was – and can still be at times! – intimidating to play older music. I never had a real answer for why the world needed my version of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto when so many others before me had played it with such great technical and musical prowess. With the confidence that I have built through playing new music which has none of those intimidating historical ties, I find that I can return to playing traditional classical music with a renewed sense of self.  I have a greater appreciation for the traditional concepts of beauty of sound and tonality. And the technical challenges of playing new music have only served to solidify my technique in approaching the performance of "old music." Vice versa, I find that I can also bring older concepts of melody and line to my performance of new music. So both inform each other in a positive way.

What brought you to Buffalo/UB?                                                

My position as Assistant Professor at UB was the main reason for coming to Buffalo, though I've had a connection to the school for much longer. My first experiences with the Slee Sinfonietta were back in the early 2000s when I was still a student at Eastman. I also remember coming to play Steve Reich's Triple Quartet  at the June in Buffalo Festival in 2003. After I moved away from Rochester, my connection with Buffalo diminished, but it resumed in 2007 when I came back to play Charles Wuorinen's Spin Five. Since then, I've been in Buffalo regularly about 4-5 times a year to perform. I taught one year as an Adjunct Instructor in 2010, and for the last three years I've been teaching at UB's Summer String Workshop alongside Prof. Jonathan Golove. I'm happy to be able to say that, rather than traveling to and from Buffalo every few months as I did for the last six years, I am now a proud Buffalo resident!

Do you have a "mission" as an  performer, musician, artist?

I find that my goals are always evolving as I myself evolve, although they generally center around two aspects of my musical life: the first my desire to use new music as a way to reach new audiences, and the second my dedication to using teaching as a way to impact people on a very personal basis. As exhilarating and rewarding as being a performer in the spotlight can be, it can also be a lonely world, with an invisible barrier between the stage and the audience. So I find that my relationships with my students is a direct way for me to see how all of my training and experiences can affect and hopefully benefit other human beings.

With regards to my first mission, it is becoming more and more obvious that the tried and true model of classical music training and concert presentation is no longer sufficient for the current musical and social climate. It is my hope that new music can be a way of attracting listeners who are hungry for new sounds and ideas. I strongly believe that as daunting as new music can be, if it is presented in a way that is less intimidating – whether it be in more intimate and casual venues like Professor Jon Nelson's art space, Pausa Art House, or by juxtaposing new music with old music – it is an excellent way for us musicians to reach people who are just waiting to have their ears opened in a way they've never been opened before.

What new and exciting things do we have to look forward to this year from Yuki Numata Resnick?

Well, I suppose the biggest news is that my husband and I are expecting our first baby around Thanksgiving of this year! Musically speaking, I'm looking forward to an all-Brahms program that I'll be playing in March with my colleagues, Professors Eric Huebner and Jonathan Golove, as well as a Berio Sequenza evening at Kleinhans Hall in April, organized by Professor Huebner. With this being my first year in official teaching capacity at UB, there's a bit of a learning curve to settling in here and discovering all of the terrific things UB and Buffalo have to offer. I'm really looking forward to see how my presence can make a positive impact both at school and in the community.

For more about Yuki, please visit: yukinumata.com.

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