Violinist Rina Kubota is a 17-year-old senior at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Arizona. She studies under ASU professor Dr. Jonathan Swartz, and recently appeared on AZPBS Horizon to talk about her upcoming appearance with MusicaNova.
An accomplished artist, Rina performed with the Four Seasons Orchestra in January 2018 after winning 1st prize at the Mozart & Friends Concerto Competition in April 2017. In November 2017, she performed at MIM after placing at the Arizona Musicfest’s Young Musicians Competition and in the same month played for a masterclass by Paul Kantor. She also placed at the Phoenix Youth Symphony Young Musician Competition in January 2018 and January 2017. Additionally, Rina was featured on the AZ Republic Newspaper on the October 28, 2017 issue.
Rina started studying the violin when she was 12 years old with a seven- year musical background in piano. Rina also won several awards as a pianist, including First Prize and Gladys Chow Special Award for the Most Outstanding Performance of a Concerto by Mozart at the Young Artist Piano Competition in January 2013.
As a passionate chamber musician, Rina attended Madeline Island Chamber Music for the last three summers and is active in the Kubota Duo with her brother Leo. The duo performed at the Young Musicians Concert at MIM in May 2018 after winning 1st prize at the Arizona Musicfest competition and was featured on FOX10 News in February 2018. They also played in the lobby of Symphony Hall before the Phoenix Symphony performance of “Music of John Williams” in May 2018.
Rina has been coached by members of the Arianna, Brooklyn Rider, Dover, Jupiter, Pacifica, and Shanghai Quartets, and her former teachers include Dr. Yali Luo, Ms. Manuela Pagano, and Mrs. Joy Pan. Rina is also a volunteer teacher at MusicaNova education partner Harmony Project-Phoenix.
What inspired you to switch from piano to violin at age 12? Do you still study piano?
In middle school, the string orchestra elective class seemed really fun to be in, so I decided to get some violin lessons in the summer to get into the class the next year, and before I knew it, I had fallen in love with it. I am currently not taking piano lessons, but from time to time I still play the piano for fun at home.
Do you have a particular style or approach to violin performance, either technical or artistic? Have you formed any artistic goals of the kind of performer you want to be, or what you want to say, artistically?
I am still discovering my style and approach to the violin, and process itself is probably as exciting as it will be when I do reach that goal.
Who are the composers whose work you like the best, and whose do you like the least? Is there any style or particular composer that you might specialize in?
I love the work of so many composers; my favorites are that of Prokofiev, Schubert, Nikolai Medtner, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Ravel. I don’t have any composers I dislike; I think all composers have something unique to say in their own way, and trying to interpret their motives by analyzing their music is much fun. A particular composer I might “specialize” in is Mozart.
What are some of your best experiences been as a volunteer with Harmony Project? How much time do you devote to teaching there? (Note: Harmony Project-Phoenix is part of a nationwide after-school mentoring program for underserved youth 5 to 18 that uses music as a means for positive youth development and social inclusion. They build orchestras, bands and choirs in low-income communities with the vision that each participant will become a productive, responsible and caring citizen – as well as a better musician. Harmony Project-Phoenix has been a MusicaNova education partner since their founding in 2015.)
This season I’m volunteering with them about one hour per week. Discovering new ways to teach the students in the most efficient and effective way possible has been a challenging but exciting journey for me. I find that I always remind myself of how Dr. Swartz taught me—as I started the violin late, I remember all the details of how he taught me the basics of violin technique, such as how to introduce shifting or vibrato.
You’ll graduate from Corona in 2019, right? What are your plans after that: university, or conservatory study, or something else? Do you intend to make a career of the violin?
After graduating, I plan to go into violin performance. My biggest dream is to become a professor of the violin while performing occasionally as a soloist or with a quartet.