When Nick Revel first took up the viola in third grade, there was a bit of comfort level involved. “I thought that the cello was too low and boomy, and the violin was too high and squeaky, so I went for the middle ground,” he says on his website. But the Sunnyside resident threw comfort and caution to the wind on his first solo CD, “Letters to My Future Self,” on Centaur Records, which debuts Jan. 4 and has its release party in Brooklyn on Jan. 11. “I play in a string quartet; I’ve always been part of a team ... concentrating on a group effort,” he said. “This collection is my first solo project.” A Connecticut native, Revel runs a music school, New York String Studio, with his wife, Nora Krohn, at their Sunnyside home. The idea for a solo album came more than two years go.
“I was on my honeymoon,” Revel said. “My wife, Nora, and I were riding a train through France to a wine tasting. ... I had some material, I had the equipment. I could do it myself.” The title, “Letters to My Future Self,” comes from the ups and downs during the creative process of musical composition. “I felt a lot of things I was trying weren’t working. I would start something but wouldn’t finish it. I sometimes felt incapable of creating something meaningful on my own.” But he stuck with what had always worked before — his own process of experimenting, improvising, sometimes taking the smallest thing that he knew clicked and building from there. Revel also had a wealth of creations and partial works he crafted during a composition workshop run by cellist Hamilton Berry, who had strict submission deadlines every two weeks. “When you missed a deadline, you got a strike, and if you got three strikes ... I made sure I always submitted something,” he said. “The letter to my future self is that if I ever have doubts when creating something, I’ve already done this.” Using a combination of layering, looping, repetition and changes, the CD has 13 selections, including his recording of “Worthy of Love” by Bach. The instrumental arrangements on “Landscape” conjure visions of wind and rain in the wilderness — to some, anyway. “People have told me they hear fire and insects,” Revel said. “It all depends on the listener.’
Then there is “DotDash,” a combination of strings and electronic music that critiques President Trump in Morse code. Berry, who along with Krohn performs on the CD, is scheduled to appear at the CD debut, along with guitarist David Veslocki.
Nick Revel is the founding violist of PUBLIQuartet, which was string quartet in residence for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's “MetLiveArts” 2016/17 season. PQ has been presented by the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The national Gallery, Carnegie Hall, the Joyce Theater, National Sawdust, Dizzy's Coca Cola Club, and the Newport Jazz Festival. He's performed all over the world including in Berlin, Tokyo, Banff, and across the US. He's collaborated with Benjamin Millepied and the LA Dance Project, Björk, Paquito D’Rivera, Billy Childs, JACK Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Jessie Montgomery, and tuba legend Bob Stewart.
As a composer, Nick's 2017 commission In DayDream for viola and guitar was premiered in Carnegie Hall on April 10, 2017 and was selected as a winner of Indiana State University's Music Now Call for scores in October 2018. In addition, he has self-produced, -self-composed, and self-recorded a full-length album titled Letters to My Future Self of all original compositions, improvisations, and sound designs for viola to be released on Centaur Records on January 4, 2019. For three consecutive years Nick was commissioned to write pieces for mixed student ensembles at the Talent Education Suzuki School, one of which was premiered at the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the school at Norwalk City Hall for the Mayor of Norwalk and other public notables in the Spring of 2014
As an educator, Nick has travelled the United States giving improvisation workshops to orchestras and chamber groups. He co-developed and implemented a theory curriculum for the Talent Education Suzuki School based on musical tension-and-release and now coaches chamber groups, one of which was specially selected to participate in the 2017 Associated Chamber Music Players Live Stream Masterclass, held at the National Opera Center in NYC. Nick co-created the New York String Studio, located in Sunnyside, Queens with his wife Nora Krohn. NY String Studio teaching philosophy draws on methods of self-awareness practices, Suzuki Method, Alexander Technique, meditation, and improvisation. He aspires to offer his students high quality instrumental technique and a deeper understanding of mind and body, discipline, problem-solving, organization, time management, and self-expression.