07.07.17Daniel and Ashley Return to North Windham Union Church
Article By Elizabeth Richards about the premiere of 'Hot Fiddle!'
08.29.15COME JAM WITH US!!
Great News for String Players! I will be directing a weekly Jam in Miami! Cafe Bleu will graciously host our Jam sessions on Saturday Mornings at 10:30 am. Bring your instrument. Bring a friend. 6620 SW 57th AVE.
04.15.15Ashley and Daniel Open for John Jorgensen at Bok Tower Gardens
Details regarding Ashley and Daniel's appearance at Bok Tower Gardens.
12.13.14Windham Eagle reviews: An American Family Holiday 2014
We had a great time playing at our favorite venue of all time! Thanks for inviting us back, Windham Chamber Singers!
12.13.13The Windham Eagle reviews 'An American Family Holiday' 2013
What a great performance all around! It was a pleasure to join perform in Windham as always!
06.18.12My Entry in the Shar Blog
In this entry, I described my personal experience teaching the O\'Connor Method.
12.05.11O'Connor Violin Method- Official Video!!
Enjoy this wonderful glimpse into the excitement of the Mark O'Connor String Method. Our students are having a wonderful time learning the American Repertoire! See my students in the NBC news clip, and later you will see me conducting the orchestra playing 'Boogie Woogie,' which is footage from the first-ever O'Connor Method Camp that was held in Charleston, South Carolina in August 2011.
09.10.11Hear me play on a new release!
Have a listen to tracks 1,2,3,6, and 9 to hear me play solo violin on Charlie's new album!
06.15.11Mark O'Connor's visit with my violin students at Carrollton
Read the article I wrote about our amazing visit with Mark O'Connor at the Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart where I teach 225 violin students! (See Page 5).
02.20.11Follow me on Twitter!
02.03.10The O'connor Method takes over!
I have recently introduced my students to the Mark O'connor violin method and they are loving it! I highly recommend this method to budding violinists and their teachers everywhere. Check out Mr. O'connor's website!
07.28.07"Ocean Park Remembered in Delight with Dynamic Duo"
06.12.03"Passion for music takes Gray violinist far." Portland Press Herald
Portland Press Herald
Portland Press Herald (ME)
June 12, 2003
Passion for music takes Gray violinist far
Ashley Liberty keeps adding countries to her itinerary as she makes connections via music.
Author: PAUL LIVINGSTONE News Assistant
Section: Your Neighbors-Lakes
Estimated printed pages: 5
As a 22-year-old composing in Vienna, Franz Schubert held a number of get-togethers, or "Schubertiads," in which he and his friends would get together and play music, partying well into the night. "He wrote so much music that year," said Ashley Liberty, a violinist from Gray now studying in New York. "You got the feeling that was a really good year for him."
It's been a really good year for Liberty, too. Granted, she's done less partying and more studying than Schubert probably did, but she has amassed an impressive number of performances, from Cuba to Tuxedo Park, N.J.
The 20-year-old musician, who recently finished her first year at Barnard College at Columbia University in Manhattan, has managed to find the time to retreat to her parent's home beside Long Lake in Gray.
The young violinist knows she needs the rest.
"School has been taking up a lot of my time lately," she said in a phone interview.
Liberty has a penchant for understatement. School has almost always taken up a lot of her time. From her early commitment to music studies, which took her from school in Gray to the Walnut Hill School in Boston, to a 19-credit-hour semester she just completed at Columbia, Liberty is an achiever of no small measure.
She has been involved in a least 14 orchestral projects since 1996, appearing in a dozen countries and on public radio, public television, NBC News and CBS' "60 Minutes." Along the way, she managed to find the time to win the 2002 Miss Maine Talent Competition.
From a single glance at her repertoire, which numbers more than 50 pieces, the assumption is easy to make that Liberty is either a prodigy or is headed for a classical music burnout.
Liberty would classify herself in neither category. Far from burning out on music, she has already found a balance she can live with. It would be far worse, in her mind, to be without music at all.
"I'm developing my goal, which is to share my passion. And that is music. If I can do that, then I can ask you about your passion and inspire you to follow it."
Her philosophy works, she says, and it's based on experience. Her travelogue is impressive: England, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Hungary and Austria. She'll soon add Guatemala and Venezuela to the list when she leaves for another Youth Philharmonic Orchestra tour in a couple of weeks.
When she plays for children, as she has in many countries, the ability to make a connection with the audience comes easily.
"We played Shostakovich in Cuba," said Liberty. "It was kind of a risky thing to do, because he struggled to compose in a Communist country. And here we were in Havana, playing it."
In the Dominican Republic, classroom teachers begged her to stay, saying they had no hope of ever finding someone to teach their children the violin. She heard similar reactions in places where classical music was rarely, if ever, heard.
And she wielded the same violin and music when she played at a posh Tuxedo Park dinner party in New Jersey last month.
"It was a true Schubertiad. Then I had to go back to my cramped dorm room."
Globetrotting doesn't preclude performances in Maine, however, and Liberty presented a sold-out performance at the Lyric Music Theater in South Portland last month.
Though Schubert and Strauss provided a showcase for technical expertise, she did her utmost to engage the audience in the story behind Pablo de Sarasate's "Carmen Fantasy," complete with the red dress that must always be worn when performing the elaborate solo piece.
"The `Carmen Fantasy' is a technical feat. It's a great game to play . . . there's so much history there and it's a great story to tell. It was written purposely to show off."
For a good show, she feels, a dialogue is needed.
"Playing recital is what I want to do. I want to play for an audience I can speak to and talk about the music. It's all about connecting with people."
Liberty treated a full house of 300 at the Lyric Music Theater to her expertise with violin, playing sonatas from Schubert and Strauss, as well as her favored "Carmen Fantasy." "A couple from Spain spoke to me after, and the woman, she said I belong in Granada," Liberty said.
A mastery of the music with bow and string goes hand in hand with truly understanding the context of the music, she believes. Liberty has the back story on dozens of classical pieces from such masters as Bach and Beethoven.
"The piece by Strauss," she said, "was written when he was 22. Though the history doesn't say so, just listening, you know he had love on his mind. A pure love. I guess I just have a tremendous desire to talk to dead people. But when I perform, it's no pre-concert talk. I'm inviting them to be there with me. I don't just play and hurry home."
She picked up the violin at age 4.
"Actually, I saw a violinist on `Sesame Street' and I picked up on it right away. I told my Mom I wanted a violin," she said.
For Christmas, there was a violin under the tree. It was no passing fad; Liberty kept playing.
"My parents were extremely supportive and helpful," she said.
For all the early wrong notes, Liberty made up for them and more - her repertoire now boasts dozens of classical standards, including works by Paganini, Brahms and Bartok.
"I used to practice in the car on the way to Boston. We would stop where this one toll-booth operator worked, and he would always ask, `So what are we playing today?' " she said.
Liberty attended Waynflete School in Portland before moving on the Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass., at age 13. "It's an arts and academics school . . . pretty intensive."
As a music major, Liberty built on her expertise as a violinist. Every Saturday she went to the New England Conservatory for lessons. Her path led toward Walnut Hill School after meeting Benjamin Zander at age 9. Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, was her master class instructor during her time at Walnut Hill. Her philosophy on music has been influenced by Zander, and she will be performing with the youth orchestra this summer as a senior member.
As with her music, Liberty's violin is a deeply personal object. Dating from about 1750, the unsigned Dutch instrument boasts an exceptional sound - it's older than all the composers she played at her last recital. It's complemented by a carefully chosen bow that is at least 100 years old. She is rarely without them.
As passionate as she is about the music, she is not attracted to the possibility of becoming a musical automaton. She wants to learn how music relates to the rest of the world, and her interest in the minds of long-dead composers has led her to consider a future degree in psychology, which was her primary reason for returning to New York City from her first year of college at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
"Going to London is the best I could have done. I semi-intended to stay there and complete my degree. But I missed my academics and toward the end of the year, Barnard came knocking at my door."
Though Liberty maintains she is not yet an international soloist, she concedes it probably lies in her future. She often practices just two hours or so a day, far less than the 10 or more hours a professional soloist might play.
"I limit the number of performances I do, too; I have to protect myself a little."
Liberty anticipates many performances in her home state - though the pull of international orchestra and solo work is strong, she finds herself much more at home in smaller settings. And she is never more at home than performing alone before a small group of listeners, much akin to her recent presentation at Lyric Music Theater.
"It's an elevation. I was on a high. You could play six hours a day and not have it say anything to you, then suddenly there's this thing that's alive. At those times, I'm almost afraid of the violin."
News Assistant Paul Livingstone can be contacted at 791-6308 or at:
Liberty is surrounded by students at the Colegio Cristori school in the Dominican Republic, where she performed under the sponsorship of the Sammy Sosa Foundation. Connecting with people, she says, is just as important as playing the music.
Liberty attracted at young fan in Havana, Cuba, where she played in 2001 as part of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra from Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass.
Staff photo by John Ewing
Ashley Liberty's violin is an unsigned Dutch instrument dating from about 1750 that boasts an exceptional sound. The bow is at least 100 years old.
Copyright (c) 2003 Guy Gannett Communications
Record Number: 9390121001
01.12.00"From the Top" radio show performance
In this quartet I was playing second violin. Details from our radio interview are included on the page.