Now Hear This: An Interview with Robin Korevaar

korevaar, robin headshotWhat is your favorite piece on the April 2 program, and why? That is a hard question! For the trio music, I particularly like Arnon Zimra’s arrangement of “The Heavenly Life” from Mahler’s 4th Symphony. I get goosebumps every time we play it. There is a great contrast of mood and some absolutely gorgeous moments in the piece where time seems suspended. The final text sums up nicely, “The angelic voices gladden our senses, so that all awaken for joy.”

What do you love about chamber music? How is it different from playing in a symphony? In the symphony we are always playing chamber music, just on a much larger scale. As a clarinetist, I am usually in partnership with individuals or pairs from the other wind and brass sections, or embellishing the sound of a section of strings (viola and cello share our lower range, violins the upper). Chamber music as our audiences will hear it at this concert is much more intimate for the players and the audience. We have the flexibility to communicate more freely visually, aurally, and through movement, to bend and shape lines and notes more spontaneously. It is wonderful to explore the texture and timbre Haley and I can create, and to work so closely with friends like her and Jonathan.

How did you, Haley, and Jonathan join forces to create the ensemble Windsong? The music world is very small, and yet very large in Dallas. Musicians in the D-FW Metroplex have the good fortune of having many ensembles, organizations, and schools with which to work, many of which partner with each other. During a Christmas concert I played in 2014, I was (as our DMA audiences will be) enraptured by Haley’s beautiful voice and energy. I asked her if she would be interested in partnering together sometime, and my friend Jonathan agreed to join us for a recital in spring of 2015. We perform several times a year now, expanding our repertoire; we are excited to share this diverse program with DMA audiences this weekend.

You and your husband also perform together as the Korevaar Duo with David on piano. What is it like working with your spouse? Interesting you should ask this! David and I are both so busy we don’t get to play together often. We generally have a good affinity for working together and have explored and performed much of the standard duo repertoire. We just gave the world premiere of Mike Barnett’s Ultraque Unum at Colorado University-Boulder, a piece Mike wrote for our wedding. This contemporary piece has many jazz elements and is quite challenging in both the individual parts and ensemble. The process of working through performances in duo and chamber settings both reinforces what we’ve always known about each other and gives us new ways to understand, appreciate, and enjoy each other. In the case of chamber music, we also enjoy extending our wonderful circle of friends while creating a soundscape for our audiences.

How old were you when you started playing clarinet? Why did you choose that instrument? I taught myself piano and began lessons on that instrument prior to choosing clarinet in fourth grade as a band instrument. I would have liked to have played cello, but the instrument was too big to carry or bike to school. As an alto, I think I was attracted to the middle range of both instruments. I also have an affinity for shiny metal and expect I was attracted to all the shiny keys on the clarinet – my mom should have named me Crow!

What types of music do you share with your kids? What type of music do they like? My parents both enjoyed music and had broad tastes, and I like to hear new bands my kids are listening to (including “clean” dub step, rap, rock/folk rock) as well as sharing with them classical music from all periods and classic rock from the ’70 and ’80s. I’d like to take them to the opera – we’ve not done that yet. I’m not sure the boys share my love of Celtic music, but we all appreciate jazz. For amusement, my older son (who plans to major in clarinet performance) and I will sometimes whistle the beginning of clarinet excerpts, which my younger son will then complete (he is not a clarinetist but knows the repertoire well, having four other family members who play the instrument).

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to? To play? In both cases I would have to say Brahms, followed by Mozart. Any piece of Mozart that I play is “just right,” even if I only have a supporting line – his writing is impeccable. Brahms fully explores the depths of the human heart and spirit in the most elegant counterpoint. I appreciate his writing both intellectually and emotionally.

What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical)? Least favorite? The first thing that comes to mind is my boys whistling when they are cheerful, followed by hearing their creative expression when playing their instruments (clarinet, guitar, bass guitar). My least favorite sound is definitely fluorescent lighting – the new lightbulbs are not something I can tolerate well.

Once you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert are you looking forward to? While I would love to hear [clarinetist] Daniel Bonade and [clarinetist] Robert Marcellus play “live,” I would prefer to use my release into the spiritual world to explore the many different types of folk music from around the world. Scotland, Ireland, Appalachia, and Japan top my list.

Fine Arts Chamber Players