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The Orion String Quartet founder learnt the importance of the link between language and music from the two legendary cellists
I come from a musical family - my grandfather played the cello as an amateur and my mother taught the piano. In my fourth grade at school I discovered the cello when we were sent for musicianship tests. My first teacher was Wendell Margrave and eventually I had lessons with John Martin, who was principal cellist in the Washington National Symphony.
But undoubtedly my main teachers and influences were Luigi Silva and Bernard Greenhouse. I started learning with Silva at the Juilliard pre-college division. He had a fantastically organised and systematic approach, with exercises that clarified every aspect of technique, from practising double-stops to perfecting up-bow staccato. He also instilled in me a strong sense of how to practise.
He followed a three-tiered strategy that comprised exercises and technique, first of all developing a system of reflexes necessary to play with the left hand; this was working in abstract on technique in its purest form. The second stage involved studies or virtuosic short pieces such as Fauré's Papillon. These études provided a synthesis of issues that bridged the gap between extraction of technique and pieces. The final stage was 'real-life' pieces, in which one explores the harmonic progression and musical flow while still focusing on accuracy of technique.
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