Violinist Laura Albers uses her superpowers to rekindle the spirit
Laura Albers is a veritable Wonder Woman with a violin: She works as the Associate Concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera orchestra, holds bachelor and master of music degrees from The Cleveland Institute of Music and Juilliard, races as a triathlete and also happens to be double-take beautiful. Oh, and did we mention that she started playing the violin at age 2?
No, that isn’t a misprint. Albers, who will perform at Cabrillo College Distinguished Artists Concert & Lecture Series’ “Rekindling the Spirit of the Age of Enlightenment” (an all-Mozart program taking place at Cabrillo Music Recital Hall on Saturday, Feb. 27 and Sunday, Feb. 28), took up music as a 2-year-old with the help of her mother, violin teacher Ellie LeRoux. “I wanted a violin because that’s what she had,” Albers explains.
LeRoux taught Albers to play by way of the Suzuki method, an educational philosophy based on the idea that if kids can learn to speak by listening, they can also learn to play music by listening. “Right from the beginning, you’re learning to clap a Mississippi hot dog rhythm, or you’re tucking a cracker box under your arm and bowing,” Albers states. The young musician was reading music by age 4, and at age 8, she spent a month in Japan studying with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, the inventor of the Suzuki method.
Albers, now 32, says that although both of her parents are musicians, she came to music on her own rather than as a result of their nudging. “It’s what the family was doing,” she recalls. “I saw that that’s what they did, and I wanted to be part of it.”
So did Albers’ sisters Julie and Rebecca, with whom Laura now plays in The Albers Trio (alberstrio.com). According to Laura, although the Albers sisters all began playing at early ages, there was never much sibling rivalry between them where music was concerned. “One of the great things about Suzuki is that the method is based on support for others, not competition,” she says. “And I think our mom was smart in that we all started on the same instruments, but we fanned out to other instruments, so then we could play together instead of a ‘Who’s on which piece?’ sort of thing.”
Albers plays Mozart’s three-movement Concerto No. 4 in D major for Violin and Orchestra at the “Age of Enlightenment” concert, which features the San Francisco Sinfonietta Orchestra and also includes performances by bass baritone Kittinant Chinsamran, pianist John Orlando and soprano Michele Rivard. Albers says this is her “study Mozart” year: She also recently served as concertmaster for San Francisco Opera’s performance of Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” and the same composer’s “Divertimento for String Trio” will appear on the debut Albers Trio album that she and her sisters are currently recording.
“Mozart is very complicated music,” the violinist comments. “It sounds very gentle and easy, and I think that’s the main challenge: to make it sound that way and interesting at the same time, whereas it’s actually not easy.”
Clearly, Albers enjoys a challenge. This aspect of her character is also reflected in the triathlon racing she does, which she got into during her first year with the opera. “I had an entire off-season, and I didn’t know what to do with all my free time,” she explains. Albers adds that the physical fitness she gains from racing serves her well as a musician. “If I’m going to be sitting in the pit for hours on end, and sitting on an airplane getting to performances, it’s just very, very important to stay in shape and keep my body in good working condition,” she remarks.
Besides, a virtuosa needs to be in peak form at all times.
“Rekindling the Spirit of the Age of Enlightenment” takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb.y 28, at Cabrillo College’s Music Recital Hall VAPA 5001,6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Tickets start at $30. To purchase tickets, call 656-9507 or go to ticketguys.com.