November 5, 2020

Good Things Come in Twos – A Faculty Spotlight

Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson
CIM faculty members Sharon Robinson and Jaime Laredo

By: Hosanna Carella  

CIM’s Newsroom now includes a student-led blog with posts covering a variety of topics, including the CIM admissions process, student life, and interviews with faculty, students and alumni. CIM professional studies violinist Hosanna Carella, who is currently studying with Jan Sloman and Jaime Laredo, will be a regular contributor and voice on the blog. Hosanna received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at CIM. Follow the CIM blog to learn from members of our community and to get an inside look into what it’s like to study in Cleveland at CIM! 

It is a well-known fact that the music world is incredibly small. But, there are always moments that make one realize how truly small it is. Over ten years ago I attended a summer music camp at Indiana University where they had a nightly concert series that all camp students were required to attend. Little did I know that two of the legends I would see perform during that concert series would one day become my teachers.  

CIM faculty members Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson are the epitome of the "dynamic duo," having performed all over the world as soloists, as a duo and as members of the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. They have collaborated with the most incredible artists, such as Glenn Gould, Pablo Casals, Isaac Stern and Yo-Yo Ma, among other notable musicians. For our present generation, they are a priceless link to a previous musical generation that we all look up to and admire.   

During a fall pumpkin-bread-baking-type of weekend, I had the privilege of chatting with both teachers on FaceTime where they answered my questions about their teaching styles and values and performance experiences.  

Recently, you performed in the Black Student Union benefit concert. What was it like playing with your students?

Jaime Laredo (JL): It was pure fun and a real joy. 

Sharon Robinson (SR): Well maybe not pure fun, because we had to count like the dickens. But it was a real joy.  

JL: (Laughs) That’s true. Nowadays, to play a concert even for two people is special. But to be playing with our students made it even more special. 

SR: It was also great to get to know Jessie Montgomery’s music. She’s awesome. 

What musical values do you try to pass on to your students? 

JL: Not only do I try to pass on important musical traditions, but what I have learned from the people that I admire and my heroes, like Casals.

SR: Respect for the composer and adhering to what the composer really wrote. They knew what they wanted! They aren’t just notes on the page, they have something to communicate to the very last row of Carnegie Hall. One must create something that communicates with people.

In what ways do you challenge your students?  

SR: Giving my students big projects that they aren’t confident they can accomplish, but then they realize they can, is one way in which I challenge my students. Having students collaborate with CIM’s great pianists is another way in which they can grow. By engaging in chamber music, one learns so much from one’s colleagues.

JL: Within reason, I think it is important to give students more than they think that they can handle. Establishing big goals is very important. 

What is it like knowing that eventually your students will be your colleagues?

JL: It makes you feel old (Laughs). It is such a wonderful feeling. Having the opportunity not only to play with my former students, but also conduct them is great.

SR: It is special playing with someone that you have nurtured and mentored. You hope that they give back as much as you have given back.

What is one of your favorite concert anecdotes?

SR: It was Jaime’s 40th anniversary of his Carnegie Hall debut and we were rehearsing in the hall for the concert with a group of great musicians. We were playing a movement of the Mendelssohn Octet for a colleague who was in the audience listening for balance. And after we played, she said, “didn’t Mendelssohn write any ‘Pianos?’”

JL: It was great because so many of them were my former students! Like Leila Josefowicz and Pamela Frank.  

With the pandemic raging, how does it feel to still be able to teach in person?

JL: We are really lucky. We have been able to do something that other places have not. 

SR: The whole team at CIM has really gone out of their way to make it possible and we have so much gratitude for them.

Paul Aguilar
Paul Aguilar (BM '19, Laredo/Sloman)

Following this exchange, I spoke with Paul Aguilar, member of the Callisto Quartet and CIM alumnus, who elaborated on his experience studying with Mr. Laredo.  

In what ways did Mr. Laredo help shape you as a musician?  

Paul Aguilar (PA): Mr. Laredo never forces anyone to copy him. I remember when I was at CIM, his studio was one of the most diverse sounding that I had heard; not only were they good, but they were all unique and individual musicians. He is so supportive of one’s own musical ideas. He never assumes that his way is the only way. He will challenge you and help you develop your own musical ideas to the highest level.  

What should prospective students know about what it is like to study with Mr. Laredo? 

PA: The relationship that he builds with all his students is wonderful. He has accomplished so much, and yet he is so humble. He is a great example to all of us. I would recommend that anyone that has the chance to study with him do so.  

As a student of Mr. Laredo, Paul’s words ring true. He believes in his students, pushes them and guides them on their own individual path toward becoming better musicians. In addition to studying with Mr. Laredo, I have been fortunate enough to have been part of Mrs. Robinson’s Advanced Piano Trio Program at CIM, which is one of the auditioning programs for students to focus on chamber music for a semester. She pushed me to interpret music at a level that I did not think I was capable of by instilling the desire to communicate music through my own musical voice. And finally, she helped shape me as an individual musician through chamber music. This dynamic duo and their teachings and support have made me (and countless others) a better musician and person. Learn more about Jaime Laredo and CIM’s Violin department as well as Sharon Robinson and the Cello department