Cautious, calm, modest, devoid of posturing and pretensions, Tomás Cotik is a violinist, one of the people who make Miami a good place to live. Born in 1977 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he came to Miami thanks to the New World Symphony and, like so many others, decided to stay. Here he met photographer So-Min Kang, born in Hamburg of Korean parents. They married and had a daughter, Yuni. The Cotiks are part of the human landscape that make Miami a multicultural magnet, more diverse each day, from which talented residents make themselves known to the world...
How did your vocation come about?
When I was 5, I listened to a vinyl record of classical music at home. The sound of the strings moved me so much that I begged my parents to let me learn to play the violin. I had to start with the recorder, which was a fad at the time, and I didn’t like it at all. It took me three years to change their minds.
Why the violin?
Because I identified with it from the start. It was a constant in my life, and at 18 I decided to make my profession. For six years, I studied with Nicolas Chumanchanco at Freiburg’s Hochschule für Musik. Later, in Toronto, I studied with Lorand Fenives at the Glenn Gould School of Music. There, I auditioned for the New World Symphony and got the fellowship. After Canada’s rough winters, being in Miami Beach, by the beach, making music surrounded by fantastic musicians and inspired by Michael Tilson Thomas, was absolutely surreal. After two years with the NWS, I earned a position with a quartet in Texas, as college professor and concertino with the ensemble, but after two years, Miami’s charm made me return to this city, which I enjoy with my wife and daughter. We feel at home here. I finished my doctorate at the University of Miami, where I am an adjunct professor. I also play for the Florida Grand Opera and the Palm Beach Symphony, am a member of the Delray String Quartet and formed a violin-piano duo with pianist Tao Lin.
I would say I carry the calling to and love of music in me. It doesn’t have a specific location, but making music under this sun, with the sea two blocks away, in a multicultural city, is a privilege. On top of that, you have the dizzying development the city is experimenting. Even though we don’t know where it’s going, it adds suspense and charm. I hope Miami continues to be my home.
Why these recordings?
Recording is an art in itself. Beyond the financial ups and downs of the industry, it’s a medium that will remain relevant. You reach your audience anywhere and at any time. It’s a vehicle; that is, it achieves the purpose of our art. I dreamed of recording the complete Schubert for violin and piano, and in 2012 I decided to embark on that project. It makes me proud that at present I have eight recordings released by Naxos and Centaur, and that they have enjoyed international critical acclaim. These recordings include the complete works of Schubert for violin and piano (with Tao Lin), nominated for MusicWeb International’s recording of the year award and broadcast on American Public Media. A record we made with my arrangements of Piazzolla compositions was rated by several publications as one of the best recordings of his work. I recently added an album of violin alone, including the world premiere of Franz Schubert originals for violin, plus Bach, Telemann and Piazzolla.
Is recording inevitable?
I don’t know if it is inevitable. For me it is a personal artistic need, and when people come up to me to tell me how much they listen to what we record, or I see repercussions in the media, it’s a confirmation that what I’m doing has a meaning, not only for me. It makes me happy and encourages me to keep going.
How does a young artist manage to record?
These days it’s easier to record than 20 years ago. Nevertheless, a first-rate recording is still an enormous undertaking. If, artistically, it’s as important as it was before, financially, it’s not usually profitable. I had the good fortune to work with producers like Judith Sherman and Blanton Alspaugh, but now I’ve decided to produce several of my recordings, so as to be even more involved in the total creative process.
What are you currently recording?
With Tao Lin, Mozart’s 17 sonatas for violin and piano in four CDs for Centaur Records. We have a great technical team, an acoustically ideal facility, a great Steinway and professor emeritus Frank Cooper in charge of notes. To make this dream possible we have launched a campaign on Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/schubert/recording-mozarts-complete-sonatas). And I would like to use this opportunity to invite everyone to support, sponsor, publicize and be part of this enterprise.
The immediate future?
I’m happy because I’m joining the Amernet String Quartet, a quartet with an international career that I have known and respected for many years. It’s a great honor. I’m very happy to continue living in Miami and begin this new stage in August 2015. It is with sadness that I leave the Delray String Quartet, whose members are dear friends and colleagues with whom we have enjoyed wonderful collaboration these past five years.
Goals and aspirations?
I have several levels of aspiration as an artist. Many of them coexist and at times acquire different degrees of priority. My aim is to offer the highest quality, sincerity and, humility and - most important - at the risk of sounding somewhat kitschy, to touch people’s hearts through music, restoring life to the tradition, language and legacy of brilliant composers throughout history. As a person, I am immensely grateful to my wife and my daughter, who make me happy day by day and without whose support none of this would be possible.