Hugo Abraham: from France to New York.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Tell us three things you already know about New Zealand!

Great rugby team! Great landscapes, ocean sides, fauna, flora etc.. There is also this punk music band “die die die” that I listened to several years ago.

What is it like being part of the “Juilliard Family”?

I feel very spoilt by the programme: thanks to Juilliard’s reputation, we get to interact with incredible artists and we to get many performance opportunities in places of the city that I would never have imagined visiting. As a foreign student, that provides a very privileged way to interact with NYC. Another of my favorite aspects is the flexibility of teaching we receive; I of course have a bass teacher but, very often interact and get lessons with the other teachers and guest artists, which is incredibly enriching.

Can you give us a “Day in the life” of a Juilliard student?

It varies a lot. But it can includes in non-chronological order: practicing, stretching, coffee, library, coaching with guest artists, quick lunch, lessons, chamber music, studio class, commute, performance, lectures, J415 rehearsals, masterclass...

How would you explain the differences between a modern and baroque instrument.

The main aspect for me is the fact that strings are “gut strings” (modern instrument use steel strings). I love the contact with the gut. One has to think of how much time we spend with those strings and how complex and rich becomes our relationship with the instrument. Gut string allows more intimacy somehow. Anyway I find the idea of developing sensorial relationship with the materiality of gut way more seducing than with steel. Steel strings were conceived toward more power, efficiency and reliability, which is understandable but one can also see what was lost on the way.

Do you also play modern?

I also play modern, even if rarely these last few months; actually before this last September, I was almost exclusively playing modern. Whenever I play the modern bass now, I can see how much my ears and perceptions have changed in such a short time. It also seems easier and less foggy than before. I am not so bothered by the Diapason difference when I have to play, it takes just a little brain motion to readjust.

Have you played for Masaaki Suzuki before? Something about that experience.

We had the wonderful opportunity to play a most beautiful Bach 's cantata with him earlier this year. It was my first performance of a Bach Cantata as such actually, and I have a very cherished memory of it. Maestro Suzuki is very kind, and very respectful to us. He is always seeking to get a very intense presence and energy from us.


Masaaki Suzuki and Juilliard415, touring NZ 26 May-10 June 2017.