Inside the Music: An Interview with David Dubal, Guest Host of National Chamber Ensemble’s Feb 8th “Schubert and Champagne” Concert by Jane Coyne

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Internationally celebrated pianist, author, teacher, writer, and broadcaster David Dubal is set to host National Chamber Ensemble’sSchubert and Champagne” concert on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 7:30 pm. Dubal’s acclaimed books include The Art of the Piano, Evenings with Horowitz, Reflections from the Keyboard, The Essential Canon of Classical Music, and Conversations with Yehudi Menuhin.  Dubal is the recipient of the first ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for broadcast journalism. He has been honored with a George Foster Peabody Award for innovative broadcasting, and is also the recipient of an Emmy Award for his work as writer and host of the critically acclaimed documentary The Golden Age of the Piano. Dubal is a faculty member of the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music and is the host and producer for a new program, Piano Matters, a weekly program highlighting the piano in comparative performances and noteworthy “encores.” Piano Matters can be heard on The Classical Network and wwfm.org Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. and again Sundays at noon (EST). Listeners may also enjoy Piano Matters with David Dubal at their leisure via webcasts at wwfm.org.

David Dubal.
David Dubal.

Mr. Dubal will be joined by NCE Artistic Director and violinist Leo Sushansky, pianist Kathryn Brake, and cellist Lukasz Szyrner for a delightful evening of music composed by Franz Schubert, including his Sonata in A minor “Arpeggione” for Cello and Piano, D. 821, Six Dances (to be performed by David Dubal), and the Piano Trio in E flat No. 2, Op.100.

A complimentary champagne reception will follow the performance, providing a wonderful and opportunity to meet and greet the concert artists. All concert attendees are welcome and encouraged to attend!

Jane: David, your multi-faceted career is both fascinating and a reflection of your many talents. I’m interested to know how and when you realized your versatility and how you developed your talents at such high levels in so many areas. 

David Dubal.
David Dubal.

David: I play the piano, and this was my first identity as a young child. So when we do something different with our lives, this sometimes haunts us, knowing that we wanted to be something we did not pursue. We can love some things more, but we find ways to do other things. I composed until I was twelve years old, but honestly, I was not a good composer. I write books, but I cannot type and don’t want to type. I write with a pencil and paper so that I can think and so that I can feel the words. I began painting when I was five years old, and I have never stopped. I have the desire to do this every day. I need and want all of these artistic aspects  of my life.

My purpose is to give music to as many people as possible. Some of it is luck. At a young age, I became the music director of a radio station in New York. I programmed every hour of every day, which allowed me to form this classical station in my own way. It was crazy. I worked all of the time, but I learned.

 NCE Artistic Director Leo Sushansky, pianist Kathryn Brake, and cellist Lukasz Szyrner. Photo by JaLynn Prince.
NCE Artistic Director Leo Sushansky, pianist Kathryn Brake, and cellist Lukasz Szyrner. Photo by JaLynn Prince.

You seem to be a person who has been able to build a career doing the things you most enjoy.

First of all, we never accomplish as much as what we would want or what we have, throughout life, expected of ourselves. Life is too short.

As a musician, I have learned that if you don’t compose, you better find out what your creative talent is, and this will help you to find your way. One must be shrewd and stick with it. I have done many things in my career. Whether working in radio, writing, teaching, performing, or painting, throughout my life I have only done things I love to do.

I teach a course at Juilliard called The World of the Piano. I teach three sessions of this class weekly, and each meets for two hours. This is a class intended for people who want to become better-acquainted with the piano literature, as well as its established and up and coming performers. I introduce and discuss each piece and interview the Juilliard student pianists who perform each week. We have some adult students in the community who attend this class year after year.

What role do you think curiosity has played in your success as an artist?

An important one. I have thousands of books. The letters of the composers may be the most important, because they tell us what a composer was thinking and how a composer was feeling, the reason for his music.

The isolation of an artist is helped a great deal by literature. We must know the great authors and poets. We must read. We must understand history, religion, cultures.

We must know art. It pains me to think about the number of people who live in New York who have never been to the Museum of Modern Art or the Metropolitan Museum.

It is very sad to see the arts disappearing in schools. It’s mind boggling. This is not only important to artists. The arts are at the core of every civilization. We cannot let this happen. We need vehement people who don’t think people are human without the arts. We really need disciples.

It is just very dangerous when people become robots. Look at Mao, Stalin, and Hitler … all of them failed artists who gave up their identity and who lost their sensitivity.

You have enjoyed longevity in your career. Do you have any advice for those who are starting out, perhaps studying at conservatories or just beginning their professional careers?

So many young people grow up practicing notes. We spend all of our time practicing, but practicing alone does not make us musicians or artists. Most people can learn notes. It’s a matter of discipline and practice. Without knowing the rest, however, there can be no art or artist. One becomes a robot.

One cannot be an artist, a performing musician, without curiosity, without knowing everything about the composer, his life, his letters, his lovers, without understanding history and art.

Practice, prepare, persevere, and know your talents.

It’s exciting to know that you will be hosting and performing in National Chamber Ensemble’s “Schubert and Champagne” at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere on February 8th.

I’m looking forward to it. Leo Sushansky is doing a great job with the National Chamber Ensemble. He’s doing such interesting work, presenting wonderful artists and programming fun and interesting concerts. I’m very happy to have an opportunity to be a part of this concert, and I’m looking forward to meeting new friends and old who love and appreciate great music.

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National Chamber Ensemble’s “Schubert and Champagne” concert will take place on Saturday, February 8, 2013 at 7:30 pm. Tickets can be purchased online or in person at Artisphere’s Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre box office – 1611 North Kent Street, in Arlington, Virginia, or by calling (888) 841-2787.

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Jane Coyne
Jane Coyne has been involved in the arts for all of her life. As a singer, she has toured the country as a soloist, appearing at major venues throughout the United States, performing with musicians including Duke Ellington, Johnny Coles, Paul Gonzalves, and Tyree Glenn, and she has appeared in many musical theatre productions. She has managed the careers of a number of a number of international conductors and composers and previously served as the vice president of the National Philharmonic at Strathmore, executive director of the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras, and associate director of Washington’s Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts. Jane directs the National PTA Reflections Program (one of the largest arts education programs in the country). She is also one of the founding directors of Young Artists of America, and manages the career of her son, composer and violinist Joshua Coyne.