Elena Urioste is an internationally renowned violin virtuoso, entrepreneur, writer, and yogini. She performs on the great stages of the world, including the Royal Albert Hall, the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center. She has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Boston Pops, and San Francisco Symphony, among others. An avid chamber musician, Elena is the founder and Artistic Director of Chamber Music by the Sea, an annual festival on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Elena has collaborated with luminaries such as Mitsuko Uchida, Kim Kashkashian, and members of the Guarneri Quartet.
The week of February 3 – 10, Elena will be performing at the Rancho La Puerta Chamber Music Festival in collaboration with her husband, pianist Tom Poster, the Miro Quartet, guitarist Mak Grgic, bassist Nick Arrendondo, and violinist/artistic director Monique Mead.
Monique: As an internationally acclaimed violinist who performs on the great stages of the world, what excites you about coming to perform at Rancho La Puerta’s Chamber Music Festival?
Elena: I adore performing on the world’s stages; equally, I love showing up on my yoga mat every day (or as often as possible), spending time in nature, and decompressing from the stresses inherent in being a traveling musician. Spending time in a place that seemingly marries all my favorite things sounds like a dream come true! As the mother of a toddler, I’m also eager to take a week to refill my own cup — to eat well, receive bodywork, and simply have time to be still and reconnect with my innermost thoughts and feelings. (Although I know for a fact that I’ll miss my little guy like crazy — this will be the longest period I’ve ever spent away from him!)
Monique: Tell us (more) about the role of yoga in your life and career.
Elena: It is my personal belief that all musicians would benefit from a regular yoga practice. Posture awareness, breath control, gradual development of mental strength and clarity, an increase in self-compassion… the benefits that yoga can introduce to one’s life are truly invaluable.
I began practicing traditional “26 and 2” hot yoga in the summer of 2009, and from my very first class, I was hooked. Over the course of my regular hot yoga practice, I have not only noticed changes in my outward appearance but have also been able to adjust some unfortunate physical habits that I had built up over the years from my violin playing. Additionally, as it is no small feat to survive 90 minutes of yoga in a scorching hot room without falling over or crying, that sequence builds mental determination like you wouldn’t believe, as well as the ability to overcome most any seemingly impossible situation. I have since expanded my yoga repertoire to include other styles (among them Kripalu yoga and mindful, alignment-based vinyasa), as well as a regular meditation practice, each of which has offered broader insight into a true mind-body-spirit connection. My yoga and meditation practices are largely responsible for the sense of calm I am now able to access in even the most harrowing of performance circumstances. This is not to say that I am immune to pre-concert jitters, but I now know how to work with my nerves as opposed to battling against them.
In 2017, my dear friend and fellow violinist/yogini Melissa White and I decided to truly practice what we’ve both been preaching and co-founded Intermissions, a program that explores the parallels between music and yoga. In June 2019, I chose to deepen my practice and knowledge of yoga and received my RYT 200-hour certification from the Kripalu Center.
Monique: Can you give us a sneak peek of some of the music you’ll be performing?
Elena: (My pianist husband) Tom and I both love playing well-known classical masterpieces, of course — Schubert’s Trout Quintet, Dvorak’s celebrated Piano Quintet — but we’re equally (dare I say more?) interested in sharing music that has been neglected throughout history and deserves to be heard far more often than it is (voices like Mel Bonis, Florence Price, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, etc.). This principle carries over not only to our duo programming, but to our work with our Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective as well, and certainly informed our lockdown #UriPosteJukeBox project, in which we put out 88 days of music videos ranging from Bach to Bruno Mars, jazz standards to Jessie Montgomery. This Jukebox project went on to inform our live recitals, in which we bring our eclectic tastes and an audience choice element to the stage.
Monique: Our festival theme is “celebrating unity through music.” How does this resonate with your musical path?
Elena: I think it’s undeniable that music is one of the most uniting forces in all of humanity — just observe an arena of people swaying and humming along to their favorite song or close your eyes and drink in the collective held breath at the end of a late Beethoven quartet slow movement in an intimate hall. What did people turn to during the pandemic, what do they reach for whenever they’re in search of catharsis, escape, celebration, a deeper experience? They reach for art — and more often than not, it’s the musical variety. I think one of the most delightful examples of music being a uniting force is the late Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia attending opera productions together: two people whose political and moral belief systems could not have been more opposite, basking in the glory of some of the most powerful music ever written together.
Learn more about our Chamber Music Festival.
Monique Mead is the Artistic Director for The Rancho La Puerta Chamber Music Festival. A passionate ambassador of classical music, she enjoys a rich career as a performer, educator, and innovator. Inspired and mentored by Leonard Bernstein, Monique has devoted her performing career to nurturing new audiences and curating extraordinary musical experiences. Her programs with major orchestras and festivals in the United States and Europe have drawn international acclaim for their popular appeal and innovative approach.
Interweaving live music with education and audience engagement at the highest level, her programs have reached millions through television appearances, a six-year radio series with the Munich Radio Orchestra, and over 20 years of concerts with the Cologne Philharmonic, Munich Symphony, Düsseldorf Symphony, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and the Mainly Mozart Festival, among others.