Violinist Julian Nguyen visited the Arizona PBS studios to perform the Sonata for Violin No. 5, I. L’Aurore by Eugène Ysaÿe, a virtuoso violinist and composer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as a composition of his own, titled “murmur.”
“The piece actually originated as an assignment in one of my classes,” Nguyen said. “I’m the kind of person who does best with a deadline, so I had postponed actually getting to work on the assignment until the very last minute.” It was raining that night, and he was listening to the droplets outside his window while plucking at his instrument, trying not to wake his roommate or neighbors. “The whole thing is kind of a murmur, this wash of sound, so that’s where the title came from,” he said. “It had to do with the space and the moment that I was writing the piece in.”
Nguyen is concertmaster of the MusicaNova Orchestra, a professional ensemble that features new music, neglected pieces and fresh interpretations of the classics. He also works with Harmony Project Phoenix and the Easy Valley Youth Symphony in addition to teaching privately. He was one of four winners of the 2019-2020 ASU Concerto Competition and regularly serves as concertmaster for the ASU Symphony.
Although Nguyen plays solo in this episode, he spoke about the joys of playing with an ensemble. “There’s something really special about playing with other musicians,” he said. “There’s just a way that you breathe and you resonate that allows for a lot of nuance and subtlety.”
Before moving to Arizona, Nguyen performed with the Symphony of Southeast Texas as assistant principal second violin and was a substitute with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in New Orleans, as well as teaching privately in the Houston area.
Nguyen is currently working on his doctorate in musical arts at Arizona State University under the guidance of Dr. Jonathan Swartz. He earned his bachelor’s degree in violin performance at Rice University with Kenneth Goldsmith.