November 3, 2015

Meet the Artist: Simone Porter, violin

At just 19 years old, violinist Simone Porter has already made a name for herself. Since making her professional debut in her native city with the Seattle Symphony at age 10, Porter has given performances in some of the most prestigious concert halls around the world. She also is a recent winner of the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant for promising young musicians (alums include violinist Joshua Bell).
Simone Porter
credit Jeff Fasono Photography

Next up, Porter will perform Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto with the RPO and conductor Ward Stare on Thursday, November 19, and Saturday, November 21 at Kodak Hall. In an interview with The Seattle Times, her teacher Robert Lipsett (LA’s Colburn Conservatory) said “one of her gifts is nerves of steel. It’s not pressure the way most people would feel it. It’s food that nurtures her soul.” Lipsett also said that her 2014 performance of the same Barber Concerto for 10,000 at the Hollywood Bowl moved the audience to tears.

We caught up with Porter to learn more about her career and advice to young musicians.

How did you get introduced to the violin?
I started when I was 3 years old. I was introduced because I fell in love with opera. My parents had this one CD of Puccini arias that I just became obsessed with, so they started taking me to orchestra concerts and ballets. [From these concerts] I became infatuated with the violin and pestered them until they let me start!

Tell us about the Barber Concerto you will perform at the RPO
I adore Barber; it’s one of my favorites to perform because it's gorgeous and unique. The first and second movements are quite lyrical. The first movement is very contemplative; it crescendos into this incredibly dramatic and sensuous climax. The second movement is my favorite; it’s the soul of the concerto. It starts with this oboe solo. Barber finds this breadth and depth in the most private place of one’s self. The third movement hits the ground running and never stops. It’s perpetual motion and ends the concerto with quite the bang!

What do you like about performing with an orchestra?
The collective energy, onstage and in the hall, is at its maximum when performing with an orchestra. The conversation and the collaboration onstage is just so massive, being onstage and experiencing all that, you really feel like you are a part of something so much bigger than yourself. You feel like you are more than the sum of your parts. It’s overwhelming and incredible.

What has been your proudest moment thus far?
Last March when I became the recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant and then the next day I signed my first major management deal with Opus 3 Artists. There are so many past recipients of this grant that I have looked up to, so to be included in that list is humbling and inspiring because I want to get to that level. It just spurs me onward.

You were 11 years old the first time you appeared on NPR’s From the Top Live with host Christopher O’Riley (coming to the RPO January 17!) How did that experience set you up for this life?
I think From the Top changes the life of anyone who goes on it. Not only does it introduce you to other likeminded young people, but it emphasizes the importance of music outside the concert hall. They do a lot of programs to take music to schools and in untraditional venues. I think I have an obligation as a classical musician in the 21st century to introduce this incredible art form to people who aren’t familiar with it or don’t have the privilege of benefitting from it in terms of its incredible transformative power. I love talking about classical music with young people, especially elementary level. They are a great audience!

What are your favorite bands/composers?
Classical- favorite composer of all time is Beethoven. Also, one of my favorite violinists to listen to is Lisa Batiashvili. Outside the classic sphere, I have very eclectic tastes. I listen to everything from Snarky Puppy to Queen to Ella Fitzgerald and everything in between!

What’s your advice to young musicians?
Love the process more than the goal.

If you go:
Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, plus Simone Porter plays Barber
Thu. Nov 19 at 7:30PM
Sat. Nov. 21 at 8PM
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
Tickets start at $22; student tickets $10 with a valid full time student id

See samples of Porter's three performances on NPR's From the Top

No comments: