Violinist Martin Beaver on a career in chamber music
The former first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet spoke about how he acquired multiple precious violins and what foods he seeks out during his frequent travels.
Violinist Martin Beaver is a renowned chamber musician and a member of the faculty of the Colburn School Conservatory of Music.
He recently visited Interlochen Center for the Arts to work with high school violin students at Interlochen Arts Academy.
During his trip, Beaver spoke with IPR about how he landed on chamber music as a career path, how he came to possess multiple precious violins during his career and what kinds of food he seeks out during his frequent travels.
Although Beaver studied and taught solo, orchestral and chamber music, he ultimately settled into a career as a chamber musician when he joined the renowned Tokyo String Quartet as first violinist in 2002.
He played with the Tokyo Quartet until 2013, when it disbanded after the retirement of the two senior quartet members, Kazuhide Isomura and Kikuei Ikeda.
At one point in his career, Beaver played the 1729 “ex-Heath” Guarneri del Gesù violin, loaned to him through the Musical Instrument Bank of the Canada Council for the Arts.
He had that violin for a four-year loan period. His current violin is a 1789 Nicola Bergonzi, which he acquired in 1989 and has had ever since.
When he travels, which is frequently, Beaver said that he likes to seek out whatever food a region is known for, from sushi in Japan to garlic ice cream in Gilroy, CA.
During this trip to northern Michigan, for example, he sampled cherry barbecue potato chips for the first time.
For young musicians who one day aspire to have careers like his, Beaver has a pretty simple piece of advice.
"Practice really hard," he says.
He also suggests musicians try to be well-rounded, focusing on their solo, chamber and orchestra skills and playing.
Beaver also recommends that musicians of all ages begin teaching or mentoring others as soon as they can.
"Having to verbalize [techniques and approaches] for someone else helps crystallize your own thoughts and your own approach," he explains.
Kacie Brown is IPR's digital content manager.
Tina Qu provided additional support for this interview. Thanks also to Patrick Owen and Phil Ford.