-By Brenda Hillegas
-photo by T Charles Erickson
Philadelphia is just days away from welcoming the Tony-award winning musical, Hadestown, to the Kimmel Cultural Campus. From February 9th to 20th, you can witness this Best Musical unfold and be taken way down to Hadestown in a beautiful new story about a classic mythological tale. We spoke with violinist Maria Im who is part of the musical’s orchestra- Hadestown is unique in that the band is a part of the show, appearing on stage rather than the pit! Maria began to study violin at the age of nine and is a graduate of the Juilliard School where she obtained her Master of Music. Currently, she resides in Philadelphia and looks forward to welcoming the rest of the Hadestown cast and crew to her city. Read below to find out more about her favorite moments in the show and the music you’ll hear.
Q: You began studying violin as a child- what drew you to this instrument?
A: I actually began my musical studies on the piano when I was around four years old. As I got older, my piano teacher told me that my fingers were too short to continue on the instrument and encouraged me to switch to the violin. I can’t remember exactly how I reacted to the news, but my mom insists that I never asked for anything as a child except for when it came time to get a violin. I guess you could say it was all kismet!
Q: Tell us about joining the tour of Hadestown! How did you end up being a part of the show?
A: My joining the tour was completely unexpected! I remember getting a message from our Music Coordinator, David Lai, as I was packing to head to Monterey Jazz Festival and thinking to myself that I had to make it happen no matter what. There was no question in my mind that being a part of Hadestown was going to be a once in a lifetime experience, so it was an easy decision to make when I was offered the position.
Q: Hadestown’s songs are very folk and jazz inspired. Why do you feel this type of music works well with the story?
A: To me, folk and jazz are genres of music that have come from a long history of ancestral pasts. They have grown and morphed with the passing of time and as the music itself has been shared and passed down from generation to generation. There’s also a sense of preservation as the genres have moved to different regions of the world, being reinterpreted, retold, reimagined. To me, that’s an integral part of Hadestown…it’s a story that’s been told again and again, and each time there’s a new lesson, a new narrative, a new understanding. It’s a beautiful retelling of a classic tale, much like what jazz and folk music represent.
Q: What’s your favorite scene or song in the musical?
A: This is such a tough question! I tend to gravitate towards different scenes/songs depending on the day or week, each city tends to affect how I see or hear the show. At this very moment, I’ve been especially enjoying the song, “Flowers.” Morgan [Siobhan Green] is an absolute powerhouse, and listening to her lay her heart and soul out on the stage in such an intimate way just wrecks me!
Q: What has been your favorite city to visit so far? Why?
A: Well, I know this doesn’t count but I’ve been really looking forward to being in Philly! But for the cities we’ve already been to, each of the cities has been so wildly unique to itself that it’s truly difficult to choose just one! New Orleans was definitely memorable since this show has such deep ties to it. We were also there for New Years, and how does one forget epic fireworks?!
Q: With Hadestown coming to Philly, what favorite spots are you looking forward to sharing with the rest of the cast and crew?
A: As a lover of food, I’m especially excited to share my favorite dishes and places with everyone! I’m also looking forward to everyone walking around Philly and seeing all of the beautiful murals and charming homes, the cute narrow streets that make you feel transported to another time. I feel like I discover a new hidden gem each time I go for a walk or a bike ride, so it’ll be cool to share that with others.