One of my favorite parts of living in New York City is being continually surrounded by artists who inspire me. As I have become the company manager for New Chamber Ballet, it has not only been a pleasure getting to know the company dancers, but also the accompanist artists who provide live music for all performances. Doori Na, professional violinist, brings such passion to his work with such ease and elegance. Over the past year, Doori and I have chatted at the box office, sharing the occasional brownie during intermissions and it is obvious that Doori is not only talented but a very genuine, kind and energetic person. It was my pleasure to feature him for this month’s Art and Exploration article.
What made you choose the violin as opposed to another instrument?
It is hard to explain, but I was always attracted to the sound of the violin more so than any other instrument. I chose the violin when I was four years old and since I can remember I was always listening to CDs of the old violin legends on my Walkman every day including my former teacher, Itzhak Perlman. Now the struggle is finding the right violin. So if there are any millionaires reading this right now, please consider buying me a Stradivarius!
You have been incredibly successful as a performer, what has been one of your favorite gigs?
Living in New York City, you get a lot of opportunities to play cool gigs. But, what makes a truly happy experience is when you play regularly with a certain group or ensemble, which is why New Chamber Ballet is definitely up there for me as one of my favorite gigs. It’s a rewarding experience to achieve something especially with genuine friends.
This is your third season with New Chamber Ballet as an artist, how is playing and preparing for live dance different?
When I am practicing by myself or working with others in a chamber ensemble, the focus is about how we can have variety in the music including timing, dynamics, vibrato, and so on. When I am rehearsing with the ballet, it is a much different focus. Each time I play a certain piece, I really have to be conscious of the feel of what I am doing, mainly getting the feel of the tempo, which is obviously very important to the dancers. I was surprised to find out that they can feel the difference of one click on the metronome whether it is faster or slower. Once the dancers communicate with me and we find the right tempo, not only do I try to remember the exact tempo but I try to remember the musical feel of it as best I can.
How do you continue to challenge yourself as a professional and what aspect of your art do you find the hardest?
I have found that teaching is a easy way to challenge yourself. I have been working a bit as a teaching assistant to one of my former professors at the Juilliard School. During a lesson or class, I feel like I am learning more than the students! When I see a student unnecessarily tensing up or moving their body for no good reason, I think to myself that I should not do that either! Most importantly, the more I get older the more I realize how important smart and relaxed practicing is over how many hours you do in a day.
You have traveled all around the world performing, what is one of your most memorable experiences?
I was fortunate to be part of a European tour with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra a few years ago and being able to perform at the Musikverein Hall on that tour in Vienna was extremely memorable. Not only is it great because of the appearance with all the gold inside of the hall or the great acoustics, but it was very moving to know that all the great composers either performed or had their music premiered inside that hall on the same stage. These are geniuses like Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and so on. We performed Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony there and it was a little more intimidating than usual!
Video Excerpt from New Chamber Ballet performance