Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
The first inspiration was my parents – they both graduated from St. Petersburg Conservatoire as conductors. My mum went on to join the chorus of the Mikhailovsky Opera Theatre while my dad eventually became a conductor at the Mariinsky and many other opera houses.
Whilst many of my teachers were influential to my growth as a musician, I will have to single out Vartan Manoogian with whom I was lucky enough to study for two consecutive summers at a summer school in Switzerland. He worked with me on the repertoire, which is now my personal core repertoire – Prokofiev, Khachaturian, Ysaÿe, Chausson. He also talked to me about Enescu, Debussy, Chausson and Crickboom in the lessons and that was the first information I got about Crickboom. Many years later, I am now pursuing a PhD on the legacy of Mathieu Crickboom.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
There were several challenges throughout my career so far, but perhaps one of the big ones is striking a good life-work balance.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
I tend to not be fully satisfied with my performances, but in general performing as part of the orchestra for opera stands out for me. As for recordings, I’ve got my first CD ‘Les Saisons Françaises’ coming out in July and I suppose I may say I’m a little bit proud of that!
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
It’s probably for audiences to judge, but the music of the 20th century, French and Russian repertoire probably gives me the most pleasure to perform.
What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?
I am a huge opera fan and ballet lover. When I can, I go to opera performances to get inspired.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
Programming is something I really enjoy; there are several things me and my pianists take into consideration including composers’ anniversaries and other important dates and we also strive to perform works of women composers. I am equally passionate about performing the music of lesser known composers, so I always try to find pieces that people wouldn’t necessarily have heard but will hopefully enjoy.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I have freelanced with the orchestra of the Royal Opera House in London for over 6 years now, and I have to say that is my favourite place to perform in London. I also always have a fun time performing at the Roundhouse. However, for solo and chamber music performances I’d choose a more intimate venue like Lauderdale House.
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?
More children learning music – that’s the only way to make them interested going to concerts when they grow up.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
There have been many great ones, but perhaps performing for Prince Charles’s 70th birthday at the Buckingham Palace or providing music for the Alexander McQueen runway show at the Paris fashion week in 2019.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
If I manage to touch even just one soul with the music I perform, I consider the concert a success.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I would suggest being true to the music score – getting a good edition that truly represents composer’s intentions; being brave and daring with programming; also find repertoire that truly interests and captivates you.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Paraphrasing Georgia O’Keefe, we feel happiness temporarily, but if we’re truly interested in something, that’s a much more substantial idea as interest is continuous.
What is your most treasured possession?
That would be my violin which I was lucky enough to purchase several years ago. However, I don’t really consider it my possession, as the violin was alive long before me and will have a life after I’m gone. If anything, the violin owns me for the duration of the time I play on it.
Anna Ovsyanikova’s new album ‘Les Saisons Françaises’, exploring late 19th and early 20th-century French repertoire, with pianist Julia Sinani, is available now
Anna Ovsyanikova is a classical violinist regularly performing as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician.
As a recitalist and chamber musicians she has performed in venues including Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Royal Festival Hall and Purcell Room, Embassy of Russia in the UK, Birmingham Symphony and Birmingham Town Hall. Anna has established a reputation as a soloist, having won several concerto competitions in the UK and performing concertos with Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of the City, Royal Academy Symphony Orchestra, Dinu Lipatti Philharmonic in Romania amongst many others.