Dreams can come true, but usually after hard work and a lot of risk. Violist Yizhak Schotten made his dreams come true by making himself known and chasing after those dreams.
Israeli-born Schotten, who is playing on campus this weekend, studied with William Primrose at Indiana University and the University of Southern California, but only after he couldn’t get a scholarship. Schotten called Primrose to explain his financial situation and Primrose made a call, opening up a spot for Schotten in his orchestra. Schotten said he got his first major job because Primrose made that call.
Schotten said he is eager to be able to put on a concert in the Madsen Recital Hall, in memory of his old teacher.
“What he did for me changed my life, and his playing still inspires me,” Schotten said. “As time passes, there are less of his students still performing today.”
A feature article about Schotten in STRAD magazine called him “one of America’s finest viola players, a leading light of the U.S. viola establishment.”
Schotten joined the University of Michigan School of Music’s faculty in 1985. His wife, Kathleen Collier, is also a member of the University of Michigan’s faculty. They met in Montana at a music festival. Collier is a famous pianist and accompanies her husband on his tours and helps him with recording.
Besides being able to spend time with his spouse, Schotten is appreciative of his wife’s talent.
“My wife is a wonderful pianist and we have played together since we have known each other, for 34 years,” Schotten said. “So it is very easy and natural to work and perform with her.”
Schotten, who got his break as a student, is impressed by the talent of young artists today and encourages them to keep working hard.
“The talent today is just incredible — young violists and violinists play with an immaculate technique,” Schotten said. “But I would recommend that these wonderful performers go back and listen to the recordings of the past great string players of the early 20th century and be inspired by their beautiful sound and style.”
Jessica Fisher, a music performance major at BYU, plays both the violin and the viola. She said she believes it is going to be a phenomenal concert by one of Primrose’s students.
“It’s a big honor to have a guest of his caliber come give a recital here at BYU for free,” Fisher said. “What an incredible feat.”
BYU’s annual William Primrose Memorial Concert will be held in the Madsen Recital Hall, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.