Faculty Interview: Myself!

In order to spread the word about our faculty members for the Asheville Music School Chamber Workshop, I'll be posting interviews with each of our faculty members! My first one will be the most obvious one: myself!



Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? Where did you go to school? Where are you now and what are you doing now?

I’m originally from the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area in Florida. I went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX for both my degrees because I loved the faculty there! My cello teacher for my undergraduate degree was Andres Diaz, and the music education faculty for my music education degree was one of the best in Texas. I am so happy I went to SMU. Now, I’m in Asheville working at Asheville Music School as their Program Director and a teacher, and playing throughout the Asheville area whenever I can!


What was the first chamber piece you played, and what was your experience like?

The first piece I ever played was probably something in this cello trio I was in when I was a beginner, called The Bow Frogs- my cello teacher, Joan Lunde, put three of her students together and wrote fun arrangements of fiddle songs, Halloween and Christmas songs, and things like that. It was so nice to have my first chamber experience with the guidance of my teacher! I still look back at those times fondly (and even remember the songs!)


What is your most favorite and least favorite chamber piece you have played before?

My most favorite chamber piece I’ve played is the Ravel string quartet, which I played at a chamber festival with Walnut Hill in Boston and in Paris. We got to play it in Monet’s garden! The Ravel quartet always says something new, with its deep complexity and wit. My least favorite chamber piece has to probably be any Mozart piece… sorry, Mozart!


How do you handle disagreements in a chamber ensemble?

Disagreements are a normal part of any work environment. I think the most essential way to handle disagreements that pop up is to make sure your group members always respect each other and treat each other with the benefit of the doubt. You may think their suggestion is bonkers, but give them the chance to try it out! You may find that you like their suggestion after all.


What is the funniest story you have from your time in a chamber ensemble or orchestra?

I remember one time my quartet tried to play our piece without music and with our backs facing each other, to challenge our communication skills! It was funny because we had no idea what was going on half of the time. Every attempt ended in a fit of laughing. I think it was a good idea in theory, but not in execution!


What is the best piece of advice your teacher gave you when you were studying?

My teacher Andres Diaz told me to perform as often as possible. This is absolutely key to eliminating nerves and keeping up your performance skills! Even a performance for your friends and family of your scales and etudes, or playing half of a movement of something at an open mic; it doesn’t have to be a perfect performance. Just perform perform perform! I took that to heart and it was the best thing I could have done for my music life.


Who was the most influential person in your life?

The most influential person in my life would have to be my first cello teacher, Joan Lunde. She always encouraged me to become better than I was by making it seem easy for me; I felt like under her guidance I could do anything. She pushed me to be the best musician I possibly could when I started playing the cello. She also opened my eyes to more complex and deep ways to understand music, which took me to where I am today. To this day I try to pass on the things she taught me to my own cello students!


Tell us a story of the biggest or most important moment in your life as a professional musician.

I would definitely have to say the moment I met Yo Yo Ma at the first Global Musician Workshop. We got to chat for a moment about a mutual friend, who is a dear family friend of mine and also one of his childhood friends. I will always remember how happy he was and the big hug he gave me! Yo Yo really is as nice and incredible as everyone says he is!


What do you do for fun?

Since I moved to Asheville I love going hiking! My favorite thing to do is walk along streams and water features and collect rocks and stones.


If you could give one piece of advice to current music students, what would it be?

Be nice to everyone you meet, and always be willing to play anything and everything! Being accessible and versatile is ESSENTIAL in the current music business and now is the best time to start!

Mandy Grace Guilfoyle  |  contact@mandygraceguilfoyle.com   

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