For November 2015’s Eye on Culture, the Office of International Advisement interviewed Marion Ravot, a first year Artist Diploma student and graduate of Juilliard’s Master of Music program. In her interview, Marion discusses her French culture and experiences as a harpist.
What made you decide to begin playing the harp? Did you play any other instruments first?
I used to play piano. I didn’t choose this instrument, we just had one at home. But that definitely wasn’t my instrument. When I was 11, I asked my parents to stop piano and start the harp. I had never seen or heard one before. I think it is its mystical nature that attracted me.
You studied at the Conservatoire de Paris (http://www.conservatoiredeparis.fr/) before coming to Juilliard. In your opinion, is the style of teaching different between conservatories in France and in the U.S?
In Paris the focus is mainly on solo playing. We don’t have that many classes outside of our lessons. Doing my undergrad at Paris with Ms. Moretti and Ms. Letang really taught me how to play the harp and the tradition. When I came to Juilliard for my Masters I was ready to make the most of the different classes. Studying with Ms. Allen was also the perfect continuation of what I had learned in Paris, really focused on figuring out what I wanted to do. We also worked a lot on performance and confidence.
You did your undergraduate degree in France, and then a master’s degree at Juilliard. You are now in the artist diploma program. What are the main differences between being a Master’s student and an AD student studying harp at Juilliard?
The Artist Diploma is mainly focused on performance. We are not required to take any classes. We get support from Juilliard with our career, meetings with a great manager and a publicist. Juilliard is helping with artist projects.
Of the different performances you have done, which was your favorite and why?
There are two performances that left a great impression on me: playing with the Paris Opera Orchestra and playing the Gliere Concerto with the National Repertory Orchestra (http://www.nromusic.com/). I played Wagner’s Götterdämmerung with the Paris Opera. It was a really intense experience as we played eight shows, each show starting at 6pm and ending at midnight. We also recorded it for the CD ”Der Ring des Nibelungen”. The Glière Concerto was amazing as it was my first time playing a concerto with a (young) professional orchestra, and this concerto is so beautiful, romantic and fun to play.
I have to ask, what is it like moving a harp around the city for performances? Do you take it on the subway?
I think that is the question I get asked the most. It is horrible the first few times but you get used to it. I definitely don’t take it on the subway, that would be a nightmare. I use a car service.
If you were not a musician, what do you think you would pursue as a career? After high school I actually applied for both Music school and medical school (in France it starts right after high school). So on my first day of the academic year I had to make a decision of which one to go to. For now I don’t regret it at all but I would have also loved to be a doctor.
You are from Paris, correct? In your opinion, what are the most prominent similarities and differences between Paris and New York?
I think the main similarity is the energy. Both Parisians and New Yorkers are quick people, always busy and running around. But definitely the architecture is different. And French people love to eat. Meals are sacred. They wouldn’t eat “on the go” like New Yorkers do, and take away food is not that popular there.
What part of your French culture do you like to share most with your classmates?
I am not really sure…I would say love for food? I love to have people over for a nice dinner. But even that is not really French as I am vegan (so no cheese, butter and charcuterie…)
What part of U.S. culture did/do you find the most confusing or difficult?
There is nothing really. New York is so multi-cultural, with people from all over the world, and it felt like home only a couple of days after I moved here.