Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
It was happenstance—my father brought home an electronic keyboard and I took to it immediately. I’m not sure I was “inspired” to make a career in music exactly—it was just that I was always good at it, while being less good at everything else.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Eleanor Hancock and Frederic Chiu, my piano teachers; Ingram Marshall and John Adams as composers and mentors; and Bob Hurwitz, who ran Nonesuch Records until quite recently.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I’ve had so few obstacles in my career compared to some people that it really seems embarrassing to talk about them. But I suppose the things I’ve found most challenging are maintaining a balance of performing and composing, and resisting the urge to link my sense of self-worth to my feelings about my career at the given moment.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I haven’t the faintest idea. I’m glad the recordings exist, and I’m always happy to have performed, but I’m really just thinking about the next thing, and how I can make it better.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
Any music which interests me emotionally, intellectually, structurally, harmonically, technically—sometimes for reasons I can’t name.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
It depends on what I’m playing. But I have a special feeling for the Barbican in London. It feels so inviting, utopian, and democratic compared to other concert halls, which often seem more like churches, or fancy condominiums.
Who are your favourite musicians?
This is a baffling question. I either have so many or so few that I’m genuinely stumped.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
“Memorable” good or “memorable” bad?
I could point to certain experiences that were important, in retrospect, but I don’t remember them in too much detail.
Certain concerts stick out to me for particular weather conditions—one which I played in college in the middle of a blizzard, another in a building in Brooklyn that was so hot we all took turns dipping our heads in the beer cooler.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Having health insurance.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
That “genre” doesn’t exist. Anyone talking about musical “genres” is selling you a bill of goods.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Ideally doing exactly what I’m doing now, but staying in nicer hotels.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Cooking for people I love.
What is your most treasured possession?
My piano, an 100-year-old Bösendorfer which belonged to Eleanor Hancock.
What is your present state of mind?
30 unanswered emails.
Timo Andres performs the Rite of Spring and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances with David Kaplan tonight at The Barbican. Further information here
Timo Andres (b. 1985, Palo Alto, CA) is a composer and pianist who grew up in rural Connecticut and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. A Nonesuch Records artist, his newest album of orchestral works, Home Stretch, has been hailed for its “playful intelligence and individuality,” (The Guardian) and of his 2010 debut album for two pianos, Shy and Mighty, Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker that “it achieves an unhurried grandeur that has rarely been felt in American music since John Adams came on the scene… more mighty than shy, [Andres] sounds like himself.”
(photo by Michael Wilson)