FAIRFIELD — The Vallejo Symphony kicks off its 82nd season Saturday paying homage to Beethoven and Mozart.
Violinist Emma Steele is the guest performer. She has won awards in many competitions, including the Sibelius International Violin Competition.
She has also performed solos with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Polish Radio Amadeus Chamber Orchestra.
The Chicago native has also performed in Carnegie Hall.
Here’s what she shared in an email with the Daily Republic while on an international tour.
Q: You have played Carnegie Hall. What’s the next venue you would like to conquer and why?
A: Top of my list would probably be the Gewandhaus in Leipzig (Germany), although that’s more of a far-off dream. I’ve played there as part of an orchestra but never solo. It’s a fantastic hall and quite a great city to visit also.
Q: Why is the violin your instrument of choice?
A: I also play some viola, but I always go back to the violin. The range of the instrument and the music written for it is amazing. We have every virtuosic piece imaginable, but then we can switch in an instant to the sweetest melody. The cello is probably my second favorite instrument, but I couldn’t do without the Beethoven violin concerto, the Brahms concerto and sonatas, the Strauss sonata, the list goes on of all the amazing music written for violin.
Q: Tell me about the challenges with Mozart’s Violin Concert No 4, the piece you are playing in Vallejo.
A: Mozart is always extremely difficult, to get the precise style and articulation exactly how you want them. It requires such perfection and purity, but at the same time has to be sparkling and full of life. The fourth concerto to me is the most operatic of all his concertos, and there are so many different characters that come in, interrupt each other, and each have their own distinct musicality just like an opera on the stage.
Q: Who do you see as your mentor on the violin?
A: Personally, of course my parents and my teachers influenced me the most in my career. Artistically though, I really look up to Christian Ferras, David Oistrakh and Michael Rabin. These are, in my opinion, three of the greatest violinists of all time.
Q: Tell me about learning to play the violin. What age did you start?
A: I was 4 when I started taking violin seriously, but when I was 3 I got a violin as a present for my birthday. I didn’t like it much then (I sulked and wouldn’t do anything in my first lesson), but when I was 4 my parents tried again, and with the Suzuki method. I was hooked. It was being around all the other kids and playing music with them that got me to enjoy it and want to continue.
Q: What’s the toughest part of being on the road?
A: I love traveling, so for me the pros very much outweigh the cons, but I suppose the exhaustion does get to me at times, some days when there’s a lot of jet lag and maybe things have gone wrong with the travel plans or accommodation. I remember when the volcano in Iceland erupted, I was stuck for a week in Newark airport trying to get a flight. But whatever goes wrong, the experience of seeing a new place, feeling the history and culture, eating the food and playing music with the people there, makes it worth it by far.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.