Erik Rynearson is principal violist of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Symphony, Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and has been a regular substitute musician with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Before performing for the Zócalo/Artistic Soirées event “How Immigrants Composed L.A.,” presented in partnership with ASU Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Rynearson sat down in our green room to tell us about what he’s been listening to, how he got into music, and why he’d hate-watch Fantasia with Stravinsky.
How did you get into playing music?
My dad was a pianist and music teacher. I don’t remember when I started, I was three. I learned violin with the Suzuki method; they start off early. Both of my parents were musicians. My brother plays the violin, my sister plays the cello. I think my dad was looking for a string quartet, but there were only three of us!
You’re French and American. What’s one of the major differences you find between life in California and France?
Life is easier in France. It’s a different pace, a different weight on the importance of the day-to-day and being a human, not shuttling around in a car but walking and biking. I think it’s a healthier lifestyle over there. That being said, we’ve got a lot in California—it’s a huge state. We’ve got agriculture, tourism, Hollywood, Silicon Valley.
If you had to choose how to spend a day, would you (a) hang with Schoenberg and tend to his Brentwood home garden or (b) would you hate-watch Fantasia with Stravinsky?
Stravinsky! There’s a funny story behind that. The representatives from Disney approached him and wanted to use his Firebird Suite for $5,000. Stravinsky said that was ridiculous and said he wouldn’t accept that. So they told him that the Firebird Suite isn’t copyrighted in the U.S., so they could take it for nothing. He ended up taking the $5,000.
Who is your dream dinner guest—dead or alive?
Felix Mendelssohn. He was a composer, a child prodigy.
Do you have any advice to young musicians?
Listen to as much as you can.
What are some non-classical musicians you’re into?
Daft Punk while they were still around. I also love jazz. Sonny Stitt is my new favorite saxophone player. But you can go so far with Charlie Parker with Strings—it’s an amazing album. I’ve been listening to KJAZZ in the car for a few years, only!
Who’s somebody that inspires you?
Adam Schoenberg (not related to Arnold). He’s a composer, a close friend of mine.
What to you defines a great orchestral performance?
When you’re done playing a movement and the people in the audience say “ahh.”