By Mudassir Raja
The fifth annual Qatar British Festival recently concluded with British Landscapes Concert at Mondrian Hotel where Savitri Grier, a British award winning violinist, performed with Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra musicians.
Around 500 people attended the concert at Magnolia café of the hotel. The audience took keen interest in the performance of Savitri who was performing in Doha for the first time. She works slowly, with the grace of an artist and the confidence of a professional as she holds a furious bow and a resolute expression when she plays. She first picked up the violin when she was four.
“My father is a pianist and a composer. My mother, originally an artist, is a child psychotherapist. My younger sister plays cello. So we are a sort of musical family. I started playing violin when I was only four and, after I insisted, my father he arranged a professional instructor for me. Since then, I have been enjoying music to the core,” tells Savitri.
“Probably when I was 12, I decided to be a professional violinist. You know some decisions just come from within and that was exactly what happened. I get a lot of appreciation for my work but I think it kills the passion and charm of it if someone tells you to play it specifically. One should play when it comes from within. I have taken part in a couple of competitions and I’m completely satisfied with my decision for opting for a career in violin.”
Talking about her musical journey, Savitri, who lives in Berlin now-a-days, said, “We always had a piano at home but I was never interested in it. One day, I saw my father practising violin with one of his friends and that’s when I felt the connection with the instrument. It of course came to me naturally and gradually but I started attending more and more concerts to get an insight into voice notes and instrument.”
She added, “I attended Royal Academy of Music in London when I was only eight-years-old. With the passage of time, I overcame my stage fright. Since then I have been enjoying the music and still continue to learn more.”
When asked about her accomplishments, the violinist said, “I have been successful in a lot of competitions. I have played violin in different parts of the world, including China, India, New York, London and Berlin. I have been playing solo and chamber music.”
Speaking about her inspirations in the classical European music, Savitri noted, “I’ve been very lucky to have some fantastic teachers. I studied for several years with David Takeno, a Japanese violinist in London. He is and will always be a huge influence to me. Currently, I am playing with Nora Chastain, an American violinist in Berlin. The great thing about music is that we never stop learning.
“However, my all-time favourtie contemporary violinist is Lisa Batiashvili. She is Georgia-born German violinist. She is very inspiring. She has got some very strong stage presence. While listening to her, you really feel transformed. She takes everyone to a journey with her. Music is all about communication and she is very good at it.”
Regarding her future plans, the violinist said, “It is very exciting to go around the world and play music. My journey is really about meeting people and playing with the people. I aspire on creating my own chamber music festival one day. A small group of people will play for one week or so.”
Sharing her piece of advice for the budding classical musicians, she said, “I’m passionate to work with young people. I gave a masterclass the other day at Katara as well. The children need to have the opportunities to learn. I want the younger lot to attend live concerts as much as possible. It is good to listen on Internet. But, the passion comes when you’re right there, at the moment.”
Savitria thinks that these are very difficult times for the classical European music. She said, “The audiences are getting older and older. The young generation, in general, is not so much interested in the western classical music. Though many young musicians are trying hard, but the problem is many people think it is too elite and fancy. They think it is very expensive. I think classical music should be made available for maximum people. However, I am really impressed with the kind of attention the music receives in Qatar. Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra is 10 years old. The orchestra is known all over the world for the classical music. I am really happy to play here.”
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