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Corey Cerovsek - Violinist


Piercing the Veil of the Universe

An interview article by Rosemary Phillips, April, 2006



Corey Cerovsek - Canadian Violinist

Corey Cerovsek

It was a very busy week for globetrotting violin virtuoso Corey Cerovsek. On Tuesday he was in Florida, doing his taxes; on Wednesday he was in flight with a stop off in Newark, New Jersey. When the plane finally landed, later than planned, Corey called me directly on his cell to tell me he had located a pay phone in a quiet area, perfect for the interview. “There had been a long line of security,” he explained about his late departure from Florida. Then he laughed, “I was asked what was in the case. A trumpet?” (He was actually carrying a Stradivarius!)

“This last week I’ve been in Geneva, Paris, London, New York, Tennessee, Florida and now Newark on my way to Salt Lake City. All in one week!” exclaimed Corey.

“What do you do to relax?” was my instant query.

“Good question,” was his response. “First of all when I get a break I live in Paris. One of the reasons I like Paris is that Parisians know how to eat well and enjoy life – maybe too much! I recharge my batteries there. The wonderful thing is that music takes a lot of energy, yet it can also be refreshing when you have a good experience, which happily I quite often do. Somebody once said to me it’s the travelling, the being on the road, being away from a home life that is so hard – but the pay-off is the being on stage, playing.”

With the Vancouver Island Symphony Corey, who is known world-wide for his beautiful tone, deep and profound interpretive abilities, and his lush, rich sound, was to perform the Violin Concerto by Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian. "I’m very excited and looking forward to it because it will be the first time I perform it. It is new material for me, very colourful, beautiful sinewy melodies as well, also very interesting musical language ¬ Armenian scales ¬ unusual scales. I love exploring a new piece."

And while he is in Nanaimo, Corey, who was born and raised in Vancouver, will be exploring more than music. “My girlfriend will be coming with me and we will spend a week on Vancouver Island. I haven’t had the chance to explore the Island since I was a kid – a summer vacation when I was six years old. I’ve wanted to go to Long Beach for a long time so we are going to rent a car and rediscover the beauty of Vancouver Island."

Corey, a child prodigy who received his bachelor degrees in music and mathematics at age 15, his masters in both at 16 and completed his doctoral course work in both at 18, has been an explorer of music and mathematics for most of his life. “For me there is a connection,” he explained enthusiastically. “It was an accidental combination. My mother, an amateur musician, encouraged us (Corey and sister Katja) in music, and my father was a structural engineer. So I grew up thinking about the connection. I got into it more in college as a teenager, thinking about it and wondering why I enjoyed them both. Are they related in some way? They are!

Mathematics turns out to be more creative than most realize. On the other hand music has so much structure. Initially I found them contrasting ¬ music very subjective and emotional, while mathematics was for me an oasis of rationality. I’ve never found in mathematics the same catharsis (discharge of repressed emotions or ideas) as in music. I personally give music the upper hand. That’s why I choose it as a profession, as you can not only think about it but feel it."

(I was having a hard time believing that this incredible conversation was actually taking place through a pay phone at Newark airport. But it was. Airport announcements and busy-ness could be heard faintly behind Corey’s voice.)

"Bach was a mathematical composer - his structures are amazing. The ratios that the Greeks appreciated in architecture relate to the ratios of music. We are speaking of harmonies, the proportions of buildings. That there is a connection I find highly likely. It's one of those little mysteries of human perception - visually appealing proportions and consonant intervals. Fascinating! Does it say more about the human mind or the universe?"

Coming up for air Corey excitedly said he had been discussing this very subject a few nights earlier. "At the time you think you're piercing the veil of the universe, but in the morning you decide you might just have had too much wine to drink.”

But what of other interests? "Since I’m living in Paris I do get a chance to catch up on culture. When I’m travelling I don’t get to go to many other concerts. Now I’m going to the ballet, and there are a lot of great artists in Paris."

And while he’s relaxing? "I like a good meal with a tasty beer,¬ especially Belgian beer. When I come back to North America I look forward to a thick steak or a burger!" Speaking of food, this was mid-afternoon and Corey hadn’t had lunch and there wasn’t much time before his next flight. "And I must call my girlfriend," he concluded. Such is the life of the globetrotting virtuoso.

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