Juilliard415: A day in the life

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

From movies to the media, The Juilliard School’s reputation spreads far and wide. But what’s it really like to be part of the Juilliard family? We talked to violinist Alana Youssefian, one of the 18 Historical Performance students that will join maestro Masaaki Suzuki for a two-week NZ tour.


First of all, do you know anything about New Zealand?

The little I know about New Zealand is based on my avid interest in Lord of the Rings and Flight of the Conchords. One of my close friends is from New Zealand and she tells me it’s the best country full of the most beautiful sights and wonderful people in the world. I am so happy I get to see it!


Tell us a little about what it is like to be a Juilliard student.

The Juilliard schedule is very rigorous in the best way, especially for Historical Performance. Since I live off campus, I spend most of my day around Lincoln Center. It is so inspiring to spend the days in the middle of one of the biggest hubs of music in the world. Juilliard students are surrounded by Alice Tully Hall, the New York City Ballet, and The MET Opera House, all of which offer affordable tickets for most of their shows. It’s nice to get a break every once in a while to see a production of a different discipline from what you study. I learn so much from watching other people perform, so being here has been more inspiring than I could have ever imagined.


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

Juilliard is definitely my home away from home, and the Historical Performance department is one of the closest families at the school! When they aren’t performing with prestigious baroque orchestras around the world, the faculty are at Juilliard giving their guidance to whomever needs it. Individual lessons and coachings are always so eye opening for us students, and playing in the orchestra connects us to some of the world’s leading conductors in our field. The concert schedule provides endless opportunities for orchestral, chamber, and solo performances, and the resources for research and study are endless!

Alana Youssefian at Jordi Savall Masterclass. Photo Credit Darren Carroll


How does historical performance fit into today’s musical landscape? How has it changed over the years?

I think historical performance is a huge part of today’s music scene! It seems that very recently a lot more young musicians have decided to specialize in historical performance, and that has brought a fiery energy to the baroque world. There are always new ensembles popping up in different cities, and musicians are becoming more and more curious about later performance practice, presenting new and exciting technical demands for those of us involved in these projects. There is still so much music to be explored the HP way, there aren’t any limits anymore!


Do you also play modern? 

I also play modern, as do most of the musicians in J415. Almost all of us received master’s degrees in modern performance before deciding to specialize in historical performance. I don’t find switching between the two difficult, but have realized that playing on my historical instrument speaks to me more than my modern instrument.


Have you played for Masaaki Suzuki before?

I played with Masaaki Suzuki for the first time last Fall in another joint concert with Yale. I heard so many great things about him before that, and he lived up to all of them! He knew just what both ensembles needed to bring the concert to life, and both performances were a real joy to be a part of.


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