Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
My grandmother is a pianist and piano professor and growing up with her as a child there was always Piano played at home. I really loved it, to me it seemed magical and so amazing. In the same time as most would assume i was encouraged to take up piano, no, I actually had to beg to do so at first.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
This really varies. When I was little I would say again it would be my grandmother. But as music has not been a straightforward path for me the really important people came later. Here I would like to mention my best friends Richard Jackson and Helen Brown; they are responsible for me playing again, and the fantastic piano teacher Valentina Kalashnik, who suggested I start to study piano again. Of course after that there is my piano professor who always believes in me but without these 3 people I might not even be playing today.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Definitely returning to the piano at such level after such a huge break (little more than a decade). I feel every day back playing has been a challenge in a different way.
In general, I think the biggest challenge is within myself. To overcome that feeling of “oh I am not good enough, everyone else is so much better, maybe I am here because of some error”. And so on… overcoming that is the hardest, but once that is away one can truly emerge in the music and stay focused. For me I think for a long time I have struggled with this little voice inside me, but I think now it’s just getting better, I have taught that voice better and more encouraging words to say to myself.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
This is a difficult question. I think at the moment Fairytales for four hands album I have just released means a lot to me. This really is dear to my heart. There is something deeply satisfying to be the first person playing music in a recording ever and at the same time one feels great sense of responsibility.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
Wow, this is also a difficult question! I am not sure…I feel that I am still learning and growing and this changes as I progress. And I don’t think I would be able to assess this m – it’s for others to judge. I can say that I do enjoy playing works by the Latvian composer Peteris Vasks and I have a deep passion with music by Janacek at the moment.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
As I am still studying, these choices are somewhat affected by my ongoing studies and the requirements of my study, but I guess my choice of works depends on what I feel a connection with and then I try to see what pieces work well together. In the future I really want to be playing a varied mix of classical and contemporary music. I love to feel the change in the repertoire as the time goes on, not excluding any period in the journey of music for piano.
Also always plotting something new.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I don’t at the moment, well I haven’t performed there yet! The one venue I really would love to perform and experience is the new concert hall at my home city Cesis in Latvia. I know this sounds weird from all the venues one might want to pick. I really would love to return an play there while my grandmother is still around.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Oh another really tough question. I always tell people I don’t have favourites – I feel it’s too large of a responsibility to choose. I think I am probably rather weird in this. I listen to different artists ranging not only in genre but by the piece of music and have versions I favour. There are artists I admire for their differences and for bringing something unusual and for having the sense of being true to themselves . But I don’t have a list of favourites, I guess that’s a personal problem, that word “favourite” makes me feel to much pressure and responsibility to chose.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I was playing in Germany just before starting to study at Trinity-Laban Conservatoire [in London]. And that was one of the first concerts concerts after returning to the piano, so I think it will always carry a special meaning within my heart.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Being able to engage people with your love for music and being able to share it. I think that is the ultimate gift if one can spend their life exploring, learning absorbing and sharing as much music as possible and to be able to fully commit to it, that is the ultimate success for me. Well I guess in my ideal life. I don’t think it’s awards or money – to do what one loves is perfect.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I think the most important is to not stop yourself. Not to tear down but build bridges where there is a problem. There seems to be a notion that music now is only for the young, and that after a certain age we should just give up or not even try. Also that music is for certain types of people or even nationality. I would never want to see anyone be affected by these foolish stereotypes.
The second is to find one’s own identity within music, but to start this journey by gathering knowledge. To also remember that it isn’t just about playing the instrument, that one should care for the history, the lives of the composers and their circumstances, the musical language and journey. Music is so exciting in so many different ways. And, importantly, not let setbacks or a bad competition or exam put you off. Everyone goes through ups and downs – they can also be a blessing to learn from and to encourage one to raise one’s standards even higher.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Knowing what makes one feel alive, and not compromising that over less important things. For me that is living a life devoted to music. Being able to explore and study every day without the restraints of health or finance. Just being able to devote one’s life to growing within one’s passion.
Ieva Dubova’s album Fairytales for four hands, featuring compositions by the Latvian Composer Georgs Pelecis, is available now (digital release). More information
Ieva Dubova is a Latvian-born classical pianist currently living and studying in London