Artist Interview: Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano

By Erik Petersons on January 2, 2013

Having made seven appearances on our series since 2006 with various artists, Lithuanian-born pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute will make her solo debut next Thursday, January 10th at the Settlement Music School.  She sat down with us recently to discuss her program, her experience at Marlboro and her time at Curtis.

Erik Petersons: Your program is entitled "New Century: New Paths". What drew you to the idea for this concert, and how did you decide on the works you will perform?

Ieva Jokubaviciute: There were several aspects that came together as I was thinking about this program. On a practical level, my first CD, centered on Alban Berg, was released in 2009, and since I have designed a variety of programs in which I include Berg's piano sonata.  As I was doing research about Berg’s opus one sonata, I came to realize how fascinating and revolutionary the start of the 20th century was throughout European creative life.  The first decade or so of the 20th century saw the ‘end’ of tonality in music and the ‘end’ of representation in the visual arts.  Shortly thereafter, Europe erupted into WWI.  It is as if these composers anticipated the crisis that resulted in Europe breaking into pieces.  All of the works in my program were composed during a span of ten years before WWI.  How did these very different musical minds react to crisis and to the dissolving of what was at the center of music for centuries?

The music of Debussy and Janacek had always interested me in their unique personal languages whereas the Viennese masters and the Russian eccentric Scriabin aimed to reach and to portray the ultimate. The selection of these works is rather personal and intimate, but I think that the voices of these composers speak of several new and very different paths which were being paved during the same period of time but independently of each other.  I hope that the listener will find the connections and sound worlds as fascinating as I do.

EP: You have performed on our series with four different artists, but your appearance in January will be your recital debut with PCMS. How does the preparation and performance of a solo recital differ from that of a collaborative recital? What about your playing might our audience hear for the first time now that you are no longer sharing the stage?

IJ: It has been a privilege to share the stage with a number of inspiring artists on the series, and each time it has been a great experience for me musically and personally. As I am getting ready to share my own program, I am looking forward to a very different experience–one which requires singular concentration. Since I am not partnering on stage there won’t be the "give and take" or two-way communication dynamic which makes collaborative performance so unique.  What I hope for in my solo recital performances is to bring forth the music with conviction so that the communicative link is direct from the stage to the audience.

EP: You lived in Philadelphia when you were a student at Curtis. What are some of your memories of Philadelphia, and what is it like for you to return here?

IJ: I came to Philadelphia in 1996, new to this country, new to how one lived, talked, carried oneself. My student years in many ways were more than just being a piano student; they were studies in how to adapt, how to find solutions, how to make things my own. It will always mean more than just a visit when I come back to Philadelphia to travel through memory as I walk what used to be my daily path between the Drake Tower and the Curtis Institute. I will always get a nervous shiver walking on that street as I did in my student years rushing to a lesson, or will fill up with the excitement near the Academy of Music as I used to go home after orchestra performances inspired beyond my own understanding.

EP: You have spent multiple summers at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont. How did your experience there shape you as an artist?

IJ: Through my years in school I have been incredibly lucky to learn from many wonderful artists and teachers. My summers at Marlboro were like daily concentrated doses of that kind of study from morning rehearsals to evening concerts. There are a few places where one can be totally immersed in that type of dedication to an art form, and Marlboro is certainly one of the few places in the world where this happens. I think that these experiences are still shaping me as an artist as I reflect on them. I simply cannot wait to return to Marlboro this summer, since it will be great to return to a place which inspired me with its contagious need to search and understand, to listen, to respond, to create.

Ieva Jokubaviciute appears on Thursday, January 10th at 8 PM at the Settlement Music School.  For tickets and information, visit the concert page or call the PCMS Box Office at 215.569.8080.