Described as a “cello goddess” by New York magazine, Maya Beiser is known for performing with “the kind of magnetic panache usually reserved for rock stars.” Since violinist Isaac Stern discovered her “at age 12 in a little kibbutz in Israel,” Beiser has determinedly and unapologetically forged her own musical path, one where Johann Sebastian Bach and Janis Joplin hold equal sway.
Beiser recently visited DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., to perform works from her new album, Uncovered, as well as pieces from her 2012 album, Time Loops. Dean Mark McCoy interviewed Beiser and discussed her illustrious career.
On collaboration and working with other genre-busting artists:
“I feel that it’s what feeds something new and innovative. For me, it’s always been about meeting fascinating people. I think that any successful artistic endeavor always involves a lot of great collaborations.”
On finding your musical path:
“When you have a passion for something, and you go for it, and you’re not afraid to try what feels right, eventually it leads you in the right direction. I think that it’s about carving things and being a leader as opposed to responding, which is not always easy.”
On the term “crossover”:
“The reason crossover has a bad name is because the whole idea started from a marketing point of view — someone sitting at a record company saying, ‘Oh we have Renée Fleming or Placido Domingo. They’re so great, but we need to reach out to this other kind of audience. Why don’t we have them do some Frank Sinatra work?’ And then they bring them together, they get someone to arrange this thing for them, and as wonderful artists as they are, the project is not likely to be that convincing because it’s not coming from their gut.
“So, the one thing that is true about everything I’ve done in my career is that it’s always been driven by the things that really meant something to me. And I think that’s very important. You need to keep this honesty as an artist. I think ultimately the audience and the people out there sense that.”