In 1974 Avery Fisher, a lifelong lover and benefactor of classical music, established Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Artist Program, which includes The Avery Fisher Prize and Avery Fisher Career Grants, the latter to give outstanding instrumentalists significant recognition on which to continue to build their careers. The 2018 Career Grant recipients—who were announced on March 22 at a special event that included live performances—are Xavier Foley (double bass); Francisco Fullana (violin); and Drew Petersen (piano); as well as the Calidore String Quartet (chamber ensemble). We caught up with Francisco, Drew, and Xavier to ask them about some of the secrets to their success. You can catch a radio broadcast of the performances from the award ceremony on Tuesday, April 24, at 9:00 pm on WQXR 105.9 FM and www.wqxr.org.

The Calidore String Quartet, who are currently on a European tour, shared with us their playlist of favorite string quartet recordings.


Q. Top three influences (musical or otherwise)?

Francisco Fullana: The people in my life: My parents and my mentor, Midori. Inspiration from the places I travel to, from my favorite temple in Kyoto to a fantastic Miró exhibit in Vienna. My musical and personal experiences during my summers at Marlboro Festival.
Drew Petersen: Benno Moiseiwitsch; nature; my family.
Xavier Foley: Music from different cultures; Jack Welch (former CEO of GE); and movie/video game scores.

Q. Artist/album you have on repeat?

FF: The Artemis Quartet's recording of Schubert's Death and the Maiden.
DP: Tie between Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations (1955) and Ursula Oppens's recording of Winging It.
XF: Jeremy Soule's soundtrack for the video game Oblivion: Elder scrolls IV.

Q. Last live performance you saw?

FF: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields led by Joshua Bell at David Geffen Hall.
DP: Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8 at the Strand Bookstore in New York City.
XF: A solo piano recital by Jeffrey Kahane at Tippet Rise in Montana.

Q. Favorite city to play (for touring musicians/artists)?

FF: I’m going to cheat and say two: Kyoto (and Japan in general) and home, Mallorca. 
DP: After New York, probably Tel Aviv.
XF: Miami is always a fun city to be in!

Q. Hidden talent?

FF: Math in my head: My mom is a high-school math teacher so we would practice simple mental math in the car every day growing up. I am always in charge of splitting bills in large groups!
DP: Don't think any are hidden.
XF: I can get a decent quarter-mile lap time in my minivan in the Vermont mountain roads. But I always drive safely these days.

Q. Favorite book or movie?

FF: Book: A Nervous Splendor by Frederic Morton, about Vienna in 1889. Movie: Volver by Pedro Almodovar.
DP: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.
XF: Toy Story (the first one).

Q. Top three pieces of advice for aspiring artists?

FF: Work hard and practice harder! There are no shortcuts, no matter how quick we think we can be, one always has to put in the hours. Get to actually know a lot of people, musicians or not. We get to meet some incredible minds who just love music and are incredibly successful in other fields. Reach out and always listen to their advice and wisdom! Always try to be inspired by what surrounds you: art, concerts, books, nature.
DP: Practice well, try something new every day, and though any art can fill a lifetime, it’s important to leave room for life to inspire your art.
XF: Never give up (yes, this is cliché but TRUE!), focus on your long-term goals, and don’t let what "everybody else" is doing influence your career path!

Q. First live performance you remember seeing?

FF: Frank Peter Zimmermann and Christian Zacharias playing Beethoven sonatas in Pollença Festival in Mallorca, when I was six.
DP: The Lion King on Broadway.
XF: A concerto winner's concert by the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. I remember hearing the cadenza of the Sibelius violin concerto and hearing a section that sounded like a tune I had heard from a Nintendo game.

Q. Artist you'd most like to meet (past or present)?

FF: Too many: Leonard Bernstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Fritz Kreisler, Mozart… if I have to pick one, it would be Beethoven!
DP: Franz Liszt.
XF: Drake.

Q. First paying gig?

FF: My first time playing with the Spanish Radio Orchestra, at age 13, in the National Hall of Madrid, for their Christmas Gala.
DP: Music for a church service in New Jersey.
XF: In a ballroom in Atlanta when I was around 13 years old, I played the Bach prelude to the first cello suite. To this day I still have not been compensated for this gig!

Q. Country you'd most like to visit?

FF: Hiking trip in Bhutan, and Little Corn Island in Nicaragua are two bucket-list trips. 
DP: India.
XF: Ireland. I love Irish music!

Q. Artist you'd most like to collaborate with?

FF: This is a difficult one, but I will throw two names out there, of artists whom I deeply admire for their musicianship: Daniel Barenboim and Daniele Gatti.
DP: A great poet.
XF: I would not mind playing next to Yo-Yo Ma.

Q. What you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?

FF: Try to learn as much repertoire as possible when you are young. No matter how many years it’s been since I last played a piece, the repertoire that I learned as a teenager is still in my hands and allows me to dig deeper into a piece a lot sooner than if I have never played it before.
DP: You will enjoy practicing someday, but by then you will feel there is not enough time to practice!
XF: I wish someone had told me how difficult it is to fly with the double bass!

Q. Practice tips?

FF: Practice lots of scales and exercises every day. Two favorites in my daily routine: Ronald Vamos and Schradieck exercises. Try to find your own approach to each of the pieces you are learning. Finding your own musical process and voice will translate into a successful performance every time. 
DP: Play slowly but never automatically.
XF: Don't watch Netflix while practicing!

Q. Latest/current project?

FF: My debut album Through the Lens of Time with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Carlos Izcaray. It just came out this month on Orchid Classics, go grab yourself a copy!
DP: Debut album of 20th/21st-century American piano music on the Steinway & Sons label.
XF: I'm currently working on a concerto for double bass.


The Avery Fisher Career Grants of $25,000 give professional assistance and recognition to talented instrumentalists who the Recommendation Board and Executive Committee believe have great potential for solo careers. Since 2004, consideration is also given to chamber ensembles. Up to five Career Grants may be given each year. Recipients must be U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents. The Avery Fisher Artist Program is committed to all forms of diversity, with award recipients being chosen based on outstanding musical merit.

See a list of past Career Grant recipients.


Eileen Willis is Editorial Director at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.