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Cristian Grajner De Sa - Violin

Interview

1- Who was your first violin teacher?

My first professor was the French soloist, Maurice Hasson with whom I studied with at the Royal Academy of Music from the age of 14 - 20. I continue to keep in contact with the Mr. Hasson and always ask for his invaluable wisdom and advice before performances.

2- Is your family musical?

My mother is a violinist, however my father is not a musician, but is very appreciative of classical music.

3. You won the 1st prize at the Groba International Violin Competition in Spain 2015. What pieces did you play and what were your feelings at the time?

During this competition, I played works of J.S. Bach, Paganini, Wieniawski and I performed Mozart’s 3rd Concerto in G Major with orchestra in the final. Performing in a competition can be a very different experience to playing in concerts, so what was wonderful about this particular event was that the atmosphere was relaxed and audiences were always receptive and appreciative. I felt this gave me confidence to treat each round as a real performance and an opportunity to share lots of beautiful music. I was, of course, delighted to have been awarded the first prize!

4- You graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in the summer of 2017 as the only student of Tasmin Little and under the close supervision of Maxim Vengerov. What was it like to study under these masters?

Working so closely with Vengerov and Little was a truly unique experience. It was fascinating to see the amount of detail these great violinists delve into when analysing music and violin technique and it makes you understand the level of concentration that is required to play at the highest level.

5- Can you share with us an abiding memory in connection with one of your performances or competitions?

A performance that does stand out was performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor in the Dukes Hall of the R.A.M, accompanied by the Junior R.A.M Symphony Orchestra after having been awarded the concerto competition prize. Having begun my studies at the Academy at 13, this was a fitting and emotional way to finish my time as a junior student before embarking on my journey through college. Having friends, family, and most importantly Mr. Hasson in the audience made this very special and gave me the support to express myself freely on stage.

6- You are now enrolled at the Mozarteum of Salzburg in the class of Pierre Amoyal. How is this progressing?

Working so closely and frequently with Mr. Amoyal is quite extraordinary. He is able to communicate his love and passion for music and the violin to his students. His manner of teaching is so incredibly artistic and inspiring yet never dogmatic in any way; I believe he is preparing me mentally and artistically for a life as a concert violinist. It has also been wonderful to experience performing in several of Salzburg’s beautiful concert halls; notably the Mozarteum’s Wiener Saal, where Mozart himself performed!

7- In February 2017, you performed alongside your mentor, Maxim Vengerov, in a performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet at the Royal Academy of Music. In addition you did a recent live broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s InTune. Do these special performances where clearly there is extra pressure bring something more to themusic for you?

The more pressure there is attached to a particular performance, the better I find myself performing because I am aware I must be entirely focused. When I remind myself that a performance is never about the performer, but rather the music, it helps to ease the nerves and pressure one might feel. Playing in such close quarters to Vengerov was a moment in time I will never forget. It was, in a sense, the greatest violin lesson; to share the stage with an artist who really lives through a performance with such commitment was hugely absorbing and inspiring. Playing live on BBC Radio 3 was fun, and not as pressured as one might think. However it was rather strange to play to a microphone in a ‘sound-dead’ studio without the energy of playing to an audience can give you.

8- How often do you practice?

Everyday, of course!

9- Would you consider teaching music in the future?

I would very much like to teach violin studies later on in life, and pass on all that I will have learned from the many great violinists I have already had the fortune to work with, and indeed my own experiences.

10- Who is your favourite musician and why?

This is a difficult question! The Polish violinist, Henryk Szeryng, has always been a very firm favourite. His playing is always refined, tasteful, elegant and poised. The manner in which Szeryng communicates through the violin on the records and videos moves me profoundly. Jashca Heifetz remains to be a phenomenon and a mystery to me and I listen to his records very frequently and I listen to Glenn Gould’s recordings of Bach every day.

11- How do you balance your study, performance and leisure times? What are the biggest sacrifices?

My daily life does not allow much free time for leisure and time is of course the biggest sacrifice. I do try to find moments of free time to go to the movies, watch sports or cook - but playing the violin is as much a pleasure for me as it is a study so I never feel as though I am missing out on any other hobby or pastime.

12- What advice would you give to music students at the start of the road that may seem so daunting on so many levels?

My advice would be to never lose the love of music and your instrument and always be true to yourself and your musical intuition. It is also important to embrace every opportunity that comes your way with an open mind and positive attitude.

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submission January 2018