Opus 1 Music Studio is proud to be joined by new violin faculty member, Basma Edrees. Basma is a graduate of The Juilliard School where she received her Masters in Violin Performance and The New School for Music at Mannes College, where she earned her Bachelors. She has performed under the batons of many great conductors including Alan Gilbert and Daniel Barenboim. Basma has served as Associate Concert Master of the Oakland Symphony during their 2015-2016 season. She also worked with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra as well as the Santa Rosa Symphony, and enjoys sharing her passion and expertise in Arabic music with students and audiences. In addition to teaching at Opus 1, she is also a faculty member at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Basma shares with us the main factors when auditioning for music schools, a memorable orchestra experience, and her passion for Arabic music. Keep reading!!
You have attended two of what many people consider to be the top schools for music in the world: The Juilliard School for your Master’s and Mannes College for you Bachelor’s degrees in violin performance. Can you share what you believe were the 3 most important factors that helped you pass admissions and auditions to get into these schools?
The 3 most important factors would be:
1) Solid preparation. When you know that you’ve done all that you could up till the point of the audition, it helps boost your morale.
2) Identifying one’s strengths: know what differentiates you from everyone else. Usually in these auditions everyone is technically advanced and well prepared. What is it that is going to make you stand out from the crowd? If you’re struggling to figure that out, remember that what makes you stand out is being you. No one can be you. Each one of us is unique, with our own set of unique experiences and our own story. Therefore, stay true to who you are and make sure you clarify to yourself what is it exactly that you want to communicate to your listener.
3) Remembering that music is a selfless act: Strip away your ego and put the music there instead. It is very difficult to not think of what the jury will think of you, especially in the context of an audition. However, it is true what the Grammy award winning Ray Hargrove said, “If you take care of the music, it will take care of you”. If you’ve put thought into what you would like to communicate musically, practiced to develop the technique that would allow you to fulfill that musical message and thought of your musical intentions throughout your audition, then you will be fine.
You’ve performed with several orchestras around the world. What was your most memorable performance and why does it stand out among so many?
My most memorable performance would be playing Don Juan with Alan Gilbert conducting the Juilliard Orchestra. His gestures were so clear and meaningful. His interpretations were inspiring. He had the ability to extract a lucious sound from the orchestra, helping us ebb and flow with changes in tempo and dynamics in such a fluid manner.
You have exceptional concentrations in Arabic music and have performed and taught this beautiful segment of the arts around the globe. What about Arabic music speaks to you the strongest and how has it transformed your life as a musician and teacher?
As an Egyptian, I grew up hearing Arabic music all around me. It has a special place in my heart, for it is the music of my homeland.
In Arabic music there is a concept known as Tarab; basically putting your audience into a trance. Tarab is not about virtuosity as much as it is about pure emotion; basically wearing your heart on your sleeve. It teaches a musician sincerity in one’s feelings, because the effect of tarab will never work if a musician is faking emotions. It requires pure raw feelings without holding back. In my opinion, that is what is impressive about Tarab; the ability to bring about such an emotional trance upon the listener. Improvisation is also a big part of Arabic music. The musician has more liberties to change certain notes, add certain notes, change rhythms slightly. This requires creativity, flexibility and a feeling of freedom; all healthy attributes to adopt as a musician.
As a new member of the Opus 1 faculty, what are you most looking forward to?
I look forward to helping my students be the musicians they wish to be. I look forward to learning about them and from them. I also look forward to learning from my fellow colleagues at Opus 1 music studio.