Q: How do you pronounce your last name?
A: If I’m feeling like lending an air of authenticity to my name’s Spanish Basque origins, I pronounce it “Oo-ree-OH-stay”. When I’m feeling a bit more American and/or lazy, I say “You-ree-OH-stee”. However, I promise to respond to, accept, and smile at anything even remotely close!
Q: What is your heritage?
A: I am American, born and raised, but I am of Mexican, Italian, Russian, and Hungarian descent. My Basque last name ties in with the Mexican side of my family.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Hartford, Connecticut, but spent the majority of my upbringing in the Philadelphia area. From the ages of 5 through 17, I lived in a suburb called Lansdale and commuted into the city for my lessons, orchestra and chamber music rehearsals, and all other musical activities. When I was 17, I moved to center city Philadelphia to attend the Curtis Institute of Music.
Although I am currently based in New York City, I still have immense admiration for and pride in the Philadelphia classical music scene, and the Philadelphia Orchestra — the “hometown band”, if you will — remains one of my favorite symphony orchestras in the world.
Q: Do you come from a musical family?
A: I do not! I am an only child, and my parents, though enthusiasts of classical music, are not musicians. My mom was a lawyer for many years and now works as a project manager at a market research firm; my dad, formerly a submarine navigator, works for Lockheed Martin in international business development.
Q: When did you start playing the violin, and why?
A: My earliest musical inspiration came from the television show Sesame Street: at the age of two, I saw Itzhak Perlman featured on an episode, chatting and playing his violin. I was instantly enamored. Apparently I began pestering my parents for a violin immediately, and after three years they finally relented. I was fortunate enough to attend a public school that boasted a stringed instruments program, and so I began Suzuki lessons in kindergarten at the age of five. Shortly thereafter, I began studying privately.
Q: How do you stay in shape?
A: I am borderline-obsessed with Bikram yoga, a fixed set of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises that are performed in a room heated to 105℉ and 40% humidity. Because the Bikram series of poses is the same everywhere in the world, I try to attend classes at every available opportunity. I’ve visited studios in something like 30 cities, from Burlington, VT to Budapest, Hungary! Click on the Yoga page for more information on this life-changing practice and how it relates to my musical mentality.