BY MARIVIR MONTEBON
Perhaps the sound of the viola is that of the angels’ voice. There is something in this stringed instrument that could lift your feet above the ground when you hear it, electrifying and enchanting.
Definitely, it must be the violist too, Jessica Garand, who could stereotypically be regarded as an enchantress as she gracefully plays the viola.
At the Julliard School of Music at Lincoln Center, the audience of Jessica was held breathless and floating at her powerful performance for her graduation recital for her Master of Music degree. It was a highly charged rendition of the Sonata for the Viola and Piano opus 25 No. 4 by Paul Hindemith, Piece Breve, by Isabel Panneton, Suite No. 4 in E Flat major by J.S. Bach, and Theme et Variations by Olivier Messian.
Jessica was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but grew up in Montreal, Canada. She said she has the most amazing family with her brothers as cheerleaders and her parents as life coaches. “We all exchange these roles from time to time as well,” she remarked.
Jessica is a recipient of the Charles Bernard Cohen Memorial Scholarship and the Alice Hendricks Kuhn Scholarship.
She is also the founder of Opportunity Music Project, teaching viola lessons to young children who could not afford the high cost of education for music. Opportunity Music is supported by the Lovin’ Life Learning Center on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, RentMyInstrument.com, the Virtu Foundation, MACROBLU, and many others.
Why choose viola as your instrument in music? Who inspired you to make music as a career?
Many lovely opportunities as a violist, and I love being able to play singing warmly dark lines, many times the viola gets this role. However, the role of the viola is constantly evolving, and this is very interesting. My grandfather asked if I wanted to always play the “zing-zing”. He got me thinking about music as a life-long pursuit. After pondering the future I soon realized that really, there was nothing I would rather pursue. I am so glad I took this path.
Who is your favorite artist? Why?
My favorite artist is Mstislav Rostropovitch, and also I greatly admire Kim Kahskashian, and Leo Tolstoy.
I teach because I believe it to be an integral part of creativity. I really have always loved teaching, really: sharing. I started an organization last year called Opportunity Music Project to give kids with passion but lacking financial resources the chance to be classical musicans.
How do you survive being a student in New York? What challenges and inspiration do you have?
I love being a student in NYC! I often go to sleep inspired to wake up. The city is buzzing with energy. There are good smells and bad smells: even if you get a whiff of something nasty, you can just keep walking another few paces, and you can smell the wonderful savory scent of gyro vendors on the corner. I like being able to sit next to someone on a train, and realize, after some moments of conversation, that we are so very similar.
Perspectives as a musician? What is your immediate plan after graduation?
I will go do more school! I will begin pursuing a doctorate of musical arts at Stony Brook University in the fall. I want to research the possibilities for performers to work in the community setting, and expand the scope of Opportunity Music Project.