1. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR GENERAL BACKGROUND:WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was born in St. Louis, MO, lived for short periods of time in Cambridge, MA, and Boulder, CO, before living most of my formative life in the Washington, DC area.
WHEN DID YOU BEGIN PLAYING?
I began taking lessons when I was about 3 and a half years old. Since the beginning of my life, music was always around me, played by extended family members during Christmas or Thanksgiving gatherings. My initial inspiration to play the violin came from that environment. I have memories of sitting amongst the music stands as a child while the family put on readings of Handel's famous "Messiah" over the holidays for friends around the community. Our grandfather, violinist and pedagogue John Kendall, was a big part of at least 3 generations of musicians that still play today. Some of them professionally. He is credited for pioneering the Suzuki Method outside Japan. He brought the Method in the early 60's from Japan over here, to the US and later to other countries around the world.
WHAT'S YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND?
Because of grandfather, I fell in love with the language of music through the Suzuki Method. And besides my grandfather being a constant and very demanding teacher to me to the end of his life, I was lucky to have some of the best Suzuki teachers in this country. Throughout all my experiences, and from my earliest memories, playing the violin was fun, a way to release energy, a nurturing tool to shape my creativity, and in my particular case, an amazing way for my parents to practice forms of discipline and organization in my young life, which needed guidance!
WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
I am actually writing this from the Idaho Rockies, something like 8k high, and on a scenic hang on Redfish Lake. Epic views for miles, and ice cold mountain water at my feet. I do not take for granted how lucky my life is. #workhard #playhard
2. EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR WORK WITH TIME FOR THREE AND YOUR WORK AS A SOLO PERFORMER?
Ultimately, when playing alone as a soloist, one does not need to compromise in artistic decisions, except of course until you start your collaborative work with a conductor and orchestra. And this is not to say that my work with Charles and Ranaan is not as satisfying artistically. They are different experiences altogether and bring great balance to my professional life. This verity allows my life as a performer to be quite refreshing and never dull and each brings different challenges and successes. As a soloist, I spend my time in solitude studying the score, historical connotations and connections of each piece, thinking about how I want to shape my presentation. Because I am so often with the guys in TF3, being alone in this process is immensely exciting, and relying only on myself to deliver a convincing performance is an invigorating inspiration.
3. THIS PIECE FROM GERSHWIN IS SOMETHING YOU’VE PERFORMED ALL OVER THE WORLD. WHAT DRAWS YOU TO THIS PARTICULAR BIT OF MUSIC AND HOW, PERHAPS, DOES YOUR INTERPRETATION DIFFERENTIATE FROM OTHER PERFORMERS?
My performances with Maestro Lockington and the MSO will actually be my second time playing Gershwin's Porgy and Bess Fantasy, and I am looking forward to the dates very much. It is an awesome piece! Gershwin himself did not create this great piece. It was the composer Alexander Courage who arranged and stitched together all of these adapted famous tunes from one of the best operas in the world's vocal/ theater literature, and in my opinion, did so-so amazingly well that the piece actually is like a full-length violin concerto. Although one can hear all the known, heartbreaking tunes from the opera itself, it is not just simply one tune after another. It is an inventive musical journey of the source material turned into something new, Courage using virtuosic writing to recreate all the moments into a new voice for the solo violin and the orchestra.
My good friend conductor Keith Lockhart suggested that I play the Fantasy. Knowing my work well with the guys in TF3, he knew how the piece would fit me. Indeed he was right! Not only does the technical challenge of the violin writing brings great satisfaction to me, it's also another opportunity to retell a popular work in an entirely new way. And, really, just like the opera itself, the Fantasy is a multilayered, multi-shaded, multi-textured, breathtakingly beautiful canvas depicting simple and at the same time such complicated life in a tiny place in the beloved American South... I love every note in that score.
4. MODESTO SYMPHONY RECEIVED EXTREMELY POSITIVE FEEDBACK FROM LAST APRIL’S TF3 PERFORMANCE, AND THE GROUP SEEMS TO HAVE A REALLY STRONG RAPPORT WITH DAVID LOCKINGTON. WHAT MAKES YOU AND DAVID “CLICK”?
I have had a deep-rooted connection to David for a long time through his wife, the inspiring and amazing artist, violinist Dylana Jenson. As a kid, I learned my favorite concerto, Sibelius' Violin Concerto by listening to her record, or more accurately, cassette tape. I would play it all the time as I was quite obsessed with it! You can imagine how meaningful it has been to know her now after she made such a profound impression on me when I was so young. It was this, and other wonderful musical connections, through which I have known David, and we have been friends since. And because of this friendship, there is palpable chemistry between us when making music. Collaborating with David last April was certainly a highlight for TF3. David is a consummate artist, humble as a human being, but with strong ideas and thoughtful vision. On the podium, he radiates great positive energy, and thus brings strong response from everyone involved - from his musicians, those on the team behind the scenes, and his guest artists. He inspires all of us to bring love and energy to the music! He is fantastic, and I cannot wait to share the Porgy and Bess Fantasy with him!
5. WHAT'S NEXT FOR NICK KENDALL?
Life never ceases to be boring, and I am grateful for that. Nothing is routine or mundane, and there is much more creative spark within me for the future. Between my work in TF3, my chamber orchestra I co-founded in 2001, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, my family quartet, Dryden Quartet, my solo work, and my commitment to enriching communities through music learning with young people all over the world, I find that the most important thing to focus on now is finding free time, and having more opportunities to sit in silence as I am doing right now on Redfish Lake in the magnificent Idaho!