Lisa Oshima, violinist 

Who or what inspired you to take up the violin and pursue a career in music?

I started the violin at the age of four by the Suzuki method with my neighbour who was a friend. In my family there was no one musical. I was first inspired  to become a violinist when I went to a concert at the age of five. Or perhaps I was strongly drawn to the beautiful red dress by the soloist….

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

My teachers. I met the right teachers at the right time. Kenji Kobayashi, professor at the Toho Gakuen School of Music, always gave me intensive lessons, sometimes nearly 4 hours per lesson. I had to start again with him with scales, many etudes and contemporary music. Dr. Felix Andrievsky, professor at Royal College of Music, taught me the background of the music and how to create my own music. He always believed in and encouraged me; without his great support I couldn’t continue studying and working alone in Europe. Erich Hobarth, concertmaster of Concentus Musicus Wien, passed me Harnoncourt’s baroque style. We often discussed baroque and modern violin playing style and  I tried both of them.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Every concert, every event is always a great challenge for me.

However, an orchestral audition was one of the toughest challenges. To get a position in the orchestra was the only way for me to stay in Europe after studying at college. I was eager to get an orchestral job so auditions were extremely stressful. Failure was not tolerated at that time.

Which performance are you most proud of?

It is so hard to say myself….. I’ve never been totally proud of my performances. I’m proud of some parts of a concert but not all. As an experience, when I played at the world’s eminent halls, such as the Musikverein, Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall etc… I was proud.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

It is also very hard to say…maybe Bach, which I’ve  I studied and performed a lot. Playing with pure gut strings and baroque bow, then switching to steel strings and modern bow in a single concert was a big challenge for me. I think now I could create my own Bach style after so many experiences and discussions with a huge number of musicians.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I try to put at least one new piece in the programme then combine other pieces to create balance.

Do you have a favorite concert venue to perform in and why?

Wigmore Hall. It is just perfect! Beautiful, with a special atmosphere and wonderful resonance.

Toppan Hall (Tokyo). This hall for chamber music is constructed entirely from wood. The acoustic reaction from the hall is so quick that it helps a lot, especially for the string player.

Opera Garnier (Paris). Just beautiful, it’s like being in a palace with a lovely picture by Chagall on the ceiling. I always feel a great happiness when I play there even in the orchestra pit.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

I love listen to Schubert’s piano pieces, especially the last sonata.

To perform, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, R. Strauss, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok etc… not so much music of the romantic period.

For my recent debut CD, I chose to record Prokofiev’s music for violin and piano, including arrangements of his ballet music.

Who are your favorite musicians?

Radu Lupu, Sviatostlav Richter, Phillipe Hirschhorn, Leonid Kogan, Lisa Batiashvilli, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons and Carlos Kleiber.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

It was a concert at a hospital for neurological diseases. There was one most serious patient who couldn’t express anything and didn’t react to anything. But during my performance, he suddenly poured out his emotions, sobbing, screaming…. All the doctors and nurses were very surprised and I was so touched and impressed with power of music.

What do you consider to do the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

It is so important to go to concerts to listen to other musicians’ performances to be inspired. But leading a healthy life and keeping your mind pure is the most basic important thing.

If your mind is healthy, you can be aware of many things from nature – the colour of leaves, flowers and sky, subtle smells etc… You could be inspired by them and these become ideas on playing.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Somewhere in Europe, but in 20-30 years time I would like to go back in Japan and spend a quiet life there.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Eating and making sweets, especially cakes and chocolates.

Paris is a great city to satisfy my desire…

Lisa Oshima’s disc of Prokofiev Works for Violin is available now on the Quartz label. Further information here

Lisa Oshima was born in Tokyo, Japan and began studying the violin at the age of four. She graduated with a soloist diploma from the Toho Gakuen School of Music College where she studied with Kenji Kobayashi. She continued her studies with Dr. Felix Andrievsky as a postgraduate at the Royal College of Music where she was awarded the Yehudi Menuhin Award, Ian Stoutzker Prize and Isolde Menges Prize and graduated with distinction in 2000. She subsequently completed her studies with Thomas Zehetmair at the Graz University for music and dramatic arts. She has also been tutored by Erich Hobarth.

Lisa has won many competitions including the 18th International Violin Competition ‘Premio Rodolfo Lipizer’, the 9th International Violin Competition ‘Premio Andrea
Postacchini’, the 20th Viotti International Music Competition Valsesia, Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe String Scholarship Competition.


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