October 3, 2019
Get to Know Natsuki Kumagai
Minnesota Orchestra member since: September 2017
Position/section: First Violin
Education: New England Conservatory; The Juilliard School
What are you listening to lately? Lately I’ve been listening to Calidore Quartet’s recording of Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 2, Op. 92, Death Of A Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli.
If you weren’t a professional musician, what career do you think you’d have? Probably mechanical engineering. My dad majored in it and when I was a kid i would look through his college notebooks, fascinated by the equations and designs. I’ve always loved math and complex puzzles, and the idea of doing that while being creative sounds like a fun challenge.
Tell us about one of your favorite moments of your career? My first year with Minnesota Orchestra we did a Midwest tour where we performed at Indiana University, University of Illinois, and finished at Chicago Symphony Center. I performed there for the first time when I was four years old, and to be on that same stage 22 years later as a professional musician was literally a dream come true.
What music or composer of the orchestral repertoire do you really love? I have a soft spot for Bruckner symphonies, especially the slow movement from his Seventh Symphony. It gets me every time; the solemn melody in the violas with the four Wagner tubas setting the mood, and then all the strings singing with such intense, profound harmonies. It’s heartbreaking yet full of warmth and richness. It’s sublime.
What piece of music have you never played but would really love to perform? Elliott Carter’s Concerto for Orchestra is definitely on my bucket list.
Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians? Play as much chamber music as you can with as many different people and different instruments as possible. I definitely attribute my musical growth to the people I play chamber music with, sharing various interpretations, sharpening my listening skills, and getting better at playing in octaves with other people.
What else should Minnesota Orchestra audiences know about you? Since I moved here I’ve picked up boxing. I also adopted a little Shiba Inu puppy who makes it rather difficult to practice with her jealousy for my relationship with my violin, and I’ve started teaching again which is something I’ve always loved doing. All my life I’ve had amazing teachers who went above and beyond what is required, and if it weren’t for their love of music and teaching I wouldn’t be here today. Passing down my knowledge and sharing my love for music reminds me why I love violin so much and why it gives me so much joy. Plus I have great students who practice all their etudes!