Album art: Harmonia Mundi
Real Life is Real Yoga
I was so immersed in all this great music. I dedicated myself to it. And from that some of the most amazing things have manifested.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST SUSAN BLOOD
Given all the things he’s done, you’d think clarinetist Jon Manasse was at least 102.
He’s played with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, New York Symphonic Ensemble, National Philharmonic, Symphony Nova Scotia, National Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and more than a dozen other orchestras.
He has been the guest principal clarinetist of the New York Pops Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
Jon is principal clarinetist of the American Ballet Theater Orchestra and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. Together with pianist Jon Nakamatsu, Jon Manasse is Artistic Director of the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival. He teaches at Eastman School of Music, Julliard and Lynn University.
Is anyone else feeling a little dizzy?
All this, and he still had time for a chat about music, expression, and the need for sleep.
Able to really be fully present, with gratitude
Susan Blood What do you like most about what you do?
Jon Manasse The bottom line has to do with sharing my excitement and love for music with as many people as possible and watch the reciprocal gratitude of hearing it … experiencing it. It has to do with sharing and gratitude.
I guess that’s really what it’s all about. We as artists feel so lucky to be able to express ourselves in this way and have other people experience what we feel through music, through these vibrations.
Susan B Is this where you pictured yourself?
Jon It has sort of gone beyond where I pictured myself.
I had no specific external rubric for where I should be at a certain point. I was so immersed in all this fantastic, great music that attracted me to the field that I dedicated myself to that end.
And from that some of the most amazing things have manifested, and they continue to do so.
I certainly didn’t envision myself as the director of a music festival. I didn’t envision myself as many other things. I just loved all of the music that I’m lucky enough now to be able to perform. This really runs the gamut from all the things. Chamber musician, soloist, and of course orchestrally.
To have this amazing balance and variety. I feel so lucky.
Happily shifting gears with great pleasure and delight
Susan B How do you keep that balance?
Jon I’m able to really be fully present in each discipline that I do. Part of the year I’m on tour with Jon Nakamatsu (this points back to the gratitude and how lucky I am to be playing and touring with him). And then there will be a break from that and I’ll be immersed with the orchestral season or the American Ballet Theater season which just finished.
Interspersed with that – back to the sharing idea – is the teaching that I do at Julliard, Eastman and Lynn University. Each part of the season provides some amazing musical stimulation where I’m happily shifting gears with great pleasure and delight.
I think it certainly would have to do with that variety, keeping me highly stimulated. I never have a chance to fall into a rut.
Susan B What advice do you have on practicing?
Jon I guess the most cliché thing is “practice slowly.” That’s what everyone says.
Because my travel schedule gets pretty intense, I find a great deal of the preparation is actually done mentally. To have a very clear idea in your head of what you need to do.
By the time you get to the instrument, you’ve already rehearsed much of it. Of course you need time with the instrument to get the musculature and coordination, but it’s amazing how much is done in the mind.
The only other advice is sleep as much as you can.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.