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#5 – Teresa Ling, Violinist

#5 – Teresa Ling, Violinist

Aired 11/7/2018

Last week, we were introduced to Jeanette Fang, the pianist of the Garth Newel Piano Quartet. Today, we’ll profile the violinist, Teresa Ling. Like Jeanette, her relationship with music began at a very young age. 

Violinist Teresa Ling: Originally, I started on piano. My mother (laughs) claims that I started when I was two, but I don’t really recall that. She used to help me at the piano, because she could also play piano. I started playing the violin when I was about nine or ten, and I remember it was in the public school when they actually had string programs back then. You actually could get out of class in order to play in the little orchestra if you started playing strings, because strings always started a little bit earlier than the band instruments. Even though I always really wanted to play the cello, we happened to have a violin. My mother claims she didn’t want to see me dragging that thing around anyway (laughs)…so I ended up playing the violin. And I really loved just playing in the orchestra with other people. There was something really social about playing the violin, and there’s something about the sound that really drew me in.

My parents felt like it was important to be exposed to music and to develop some ability with it, but they also felt like ‘you should actually pick something to do as a career that has a little bit more security.’ I thought I would probably be pre-med, you know, just do something along those lines. So I continued to play through college, but I had a violin teacher who encouraged me to try for a fellowship to the Aspen Music Festival. I had never met so many people who were planning to make music their career. There were hundreds of violinists who I met, and you would think that would discourage me, but it actually made me feel like, ‘Wow! That is such a cool idea! I might have to try that!’

So I decided to go to grad school in music. I ended up going to Eastman School of Music in Rochester (NY) for a masters degree, and then I got a Rotary scholarship to study in London (UK) for a year and I went to the Royal Academy of Music.

I wondered how her parent’s had handled her choosing such a different path.

TL: I have to give them a lot of credit that they were really supportive. For years and years after switching to violin, they kept saying, ‘You know, it’s not too late to apply to med school (laughs).  They finally stopped asking, but I’m really happy that I took the turn that I did.

I asked Teresa to speak to her favorite music, whether it be for listening or playing. 

TL: Well, it’s hard for me to actually pick one composer (Jeanette Fang, “Exactly!”) that I love to play all the time. I love the variety…you know it’s so satisfying to play Brahms; Schubert has some incredible moments; Mozart; Beethoven. I have to say that,probably, my “desert island” composer would be Bach, because I’ll just happily grown old playing the pieces that he wrote for violin, which people might find surprising ’cause I never perform it (laughs). And so, I suppose, there is something about Bach’s music that is comforting and challenging, and just extraordinary that I never get tired of it. I could listen to it over and over again, forever, and you know…just work at it! Just keep on playing it and find things that just touch me in a different way each time I approach it.

When I’m home, I don’t actually listen to music, because I find it incredibly distracting if I need to do something else. I think the fact that I play and rehearse a lot, I find that I try not to listen to music. But I enjoy all types of music. I love music that really comes from the heart, and stuff that has a great beat. I even like hard rock sometimes, you know it’s really hard to pigeon-hole it.

For more information, www.garthnewel.org

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