The Beat on Winter Street, Featuring Conservatory Program Violist Elliot Do

Apsara Balamurugan Conservatory News

Sitting in the lobby of Bradley Hall on a gray winter day, I hear the melody of Mozart’s String Quartet No. 17 in Bb Major, “The Hunt,” floating in from Rivera Recital Hall.  The piece comes together beautifully as a quartet of Conservatory Program students at The Rivers School brings it to life.  The violist, Elliot Do, has been in the program for four years.  He is a dear friend of mine and offers to share his thoughts (and wisdom) with me. 

I asked Elliot about his experience with chamber groups like the one I just heard play.  He explains that being in a chamber group is one of his favorite parts of the Conservatory Program at The Rivers School because he is able to push himself, along with his fellow musicians, to perform at a high level.  In addition, there is a certain level of camaraderie and pride that develops along the way.  He particularly enjoys “the pre-rehearsal jam sessions where we improvise and get to know each other through our music.”  Also, chamber groups and ensembles often entertain nursing home residents.  Elliot looks forward to recitals at these facilities: “It is a special moment for us because the residents have a way of making us feel like the best musicians in the world.”

When asked about courses, Elliot is even more enthusiastic.  He has always wanted to learn more about producing and recording electronic compositions, so his recording elective with faculty member Patrick Mottaz has been exciting.  He says, “I bring him my compositions, and he breaks them down and enhances my work.  Like learning a new language, Mr. Mottaz uses music to teach, and no class goes by without us gaining fluency.” 

We then fall into a discussion about the faculty and I ask about teachers who have influenced him the most.  Liana Zaretsky, he says without hesitation, has been an amazing mentor to him: “From technique to artistic freedom, she has instilled in me a love of music.”  He adds that having access to the breadth and depth of faculty members at RSC has been exceptionally valuable: “With such a strong support system, I can observe mentors’ playing styles and model the musicianship that I am surrounded by at the Conservatory.”

As Elliot is a senior and his time at Rivers is coming to a close, I wondered if there was any advice he would give a new student coming into the Conservatory Program.  We both agree that the rigorous Conservatory Program classes add to the challenging academic workload of The Rivers School, but he notes that “if your time is handled well, the Conservatory will be a place where you can grow tremendously as a musician, student, and person.  The rewards I have gotten through the mentors I have met within the Conservatory Program and the resources the program offers have helped me grow into the musician I am today.” 

I smile at his last comment because I have heard Elliot play over the years, and I agree with him.  As I watch him now, I can see and sense the profound connection he has developed with the music he performs.  His immersion in the program has indeed produced a talented, well-rounded, and authentic artist who will surely go on to do great things.  Until next time, that’s the Beat on Winter Street.

To learn more about the Conservatory Program at The Rivers School, visit this webpage. To read more installments of the Beat on Winter Street, a series featuring interviews with members of The Rivers School Conservatory community, browse the RSC Facebook page.

Written By Apsara Balamurugan, Conservatory Program Class of 2020