An Interview With duoW
We’re celebrating the release of Entendre, the fiery (at times) new release from duoW, featuring violinist Arianna Warsaw-Fan and cellist Meta Weiss. Recently we caught up with them over email for an informal interview. At times wise, at times hilarious, here’s what Arianna and Meta had to say:
Congratulations on the release of Entendre. Of everything you play, why did you choose these pieces? Why is it important to get these particular pieces to the world?
Thank you! We’re very excited about the album. We chose these pieces because we love to play them, and because together they constitute a good mix of classic favorites and less well-known duos. We want everyone to experience the variety, depth, and range that the violin-cello genre has to offer, and we think that these pieces are the perfect way to show those things. The word “important” is a bit grandiose for us…but two of the less-recorded works we’ve included–Bruce Dukov’s arrangement of Stars and Stripes and the Servais-Leonard Grand Duo de Concert–make us smile every time we play or hear them (we’re pretty sure that anyone who listens to them will know why), and we think that the world could always use more smile-inducing elements.
There’s one world-premier recording on this album. Tell us more about this brand-new arrangement of Stars And Stripes Forever.
Well, it is definitely the one piece on the album that almost everyone will recognize. Bruce Dukov is a wonderful–and very funny–violinist/composer who decided to arrange this classic American marching band piece in the style of Wieniawski. We love it because, even though it’s fiendishly difficult, it is such a delightful arrangement and we always have so much fun playing it (and hopefully everyone will find it enjoyable to listen to, as well!).
What does Entendre mean?
In French, the word “entendre” means both to hear and to understand. Entendre the album is meant to introduce ourselves to the world as duoW, and also present a virtuosic and varied selection of works for violin-cello duo. We hope people will listen to this album and both hear and understand not only us, but also these amazing pieces and composers. And, of course, we like the play on words with the phrase “double entendre,” since there are two of us!
You’ve said many times that you’re committed to the future of classical music. What are your latest thoughts on what that means? What are the new audiences you want to bring your music to?
We don’t discriminate when it comes to audiences! We’d love to reach as many people as we can with our music–Nobel prize winners, prison inmates, 13 year old girls who mostly listen to Justin Bieber…the list is quite a bit longer than that, but you get the idea. One of our goals is to find a way of reaching people who have never considered listening to classical music before–because we think a lot of those people will discover that they love it–but it’s very important to us that we find a way of doing this without alienating those audience members who already like classical music and attend concerts regularly. Those are the people who have made it possible for us to end up where we are today, and we’re very grateful to them. Our vision for the future of classical music is an iPod with a Beethoven playlist right before a Beyoncé playlist.
Where do you most like to perform? Are there any upcoming performances you’re especially looking forward to?
It’s an incredible feeling to perform in a great hall, but the audience is more important than the venue. We really love to play anywhere that has receptive listeners. We don’t want to stand on a stage and metaphorically lecture to a passive crowd–we want to feel like everyone in the hall is exploring each piece together, and that we, as the performers, are just the tour guides–the leaders of the expedition. But of course the acoustics are also important; a great hall suspends the sounds you create and the whole experience can become transcendent. In March we played Mozart’s flute quartet in D Major in Boston Symphony Hall with Sir James Galway, and the sound there was so fantastic. We love that hall!
We’re also really looking forward to our concert tours in California in both November and January, especially because we will be playing in Meta’s hometown of San Francisco. Playing in the city where you grew up is always a wonderful experience because all of your friends and family get to come!
Do you have any advice for young, aspiring musicians?
For those of you who aren’t 10 year old prodigies who can already play all 24 Paganini caprices or all 40 Popper Etudes perfectly, we would say that it’s very hard work and you have to be willing to put in the time. Practice slowly. And with the metronome. You’ll probably experience some degree of failure at some point in your career. When that happens, you should either give up and make room for the people who really want it, or you should throw yourself into the next challenge with twice as much energy and determination as you had before. You have to choose what’s right for you.
For those of you who are 10 year old prodigies who can already play all 24 Paganini caprices or (and?!) all 40 Popper Etudes: you obviously don’t need our help. But we think that you should probably make sure that you go outside and play with friends once in a while.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Arianna: This is such a good question, and I wish I had more time to consider my answer. But right now I’d have to say that I’d like the ability to move objects with my mind. Ideally, this ability would be limitless–so I would be able to move any quantity of objects, regardless of weight or composition, at whichever speed and with whichever force I desired. That way I could, in effect, fly at rapid speeds. And I could clean the bathroom or wash the dishes without ever touching anything.
Meta: Definitely I would want the ability to stop time and go back in time, sort of like Hermione and her time turner in Harry Potter. There are so many things I would like to be able to do, and with a time turner I could do everything and not have to worry about scheduling or deadlines! Also, I just think it would be cool to be in two (or more) places at once. I could practice, work out, perform, shop, and write emails all at the same time! The possibilities are endless…