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?
Music has always been there, for as long as I can remember. My parents are classical music lovers, and the main influence on why I pursued a career in music! The exact reason, however, for wanting to play the violin at the age of three, remains a mystery to this day. I started asking my parents for a violin and apparently went on about it for quite some time, so on my fourth birthday I got one as a present. I still remember the disappointment when we realised it was too big for me! I finally got the right one after waiting for a little bit longer, a 1/32 size, which is a really tiny, tiny violin.
Throughout my career, I’d say, some of the most important influences were of course, my teachers, starting with Xavier Turull, who was a wonderful musician, inspiring me to play mature musical works at a very young age. Chris Nicholls taught me all through my teenage years and I owe him an awful lot in terms of shaping me as a violinist and teaching me on how to approach the instrument in a very natural way.
One of my most important recent influences is the producer Youth, Martin Glover, who pushed me into writing my debut album AUTOVIA in collaboration with him. The change from just being an interpreter to also writing and performing my own music is a big leap and has been a real eye-opener in my career to date.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I think the greatest challenge of all is to have a clear vision and to be able to say no to opportunities. At the same time, it is also very important to be comfortable with making mistakes and to be open minded, because if you’re too focused on one particular thing you may end up missing the opportunity that puts you on the path to success. Personally, I find it a very challenging balance to maintain.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
I’m usually hyper-critical of my own performances, as are many artists and musicians. I have to say, I’m proud of my album AUTOVIA, because it has led to a break down of the barriers put up by my purely classical education. I’m also immensely excited about my solo classical album “Mirror Images”, to be released this autumn with record label Aldilà and distributed by Naxos. Traditional works and premières for solo violin, viola and voice, interlaced with live improvisations from the studio, focusing on the intimate expression of the instruments on their own.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
I feel very at home with Bach and contemporary music. I’ve always felt a sense of flow and coherence in Bach, and it calms me, starting my days playing half an hour of his music.
I also love improvising and exploring different sounds on the violin, playing different styles, like folk/rock fiddle, which have opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of distorting the natural sound with all sorts of pedals. The music on Autovia has totally been influenced by a combination of the very traditional classical and the experimental electronic.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
The focus at the moment is playing my own music as well as promoting the new upcoming solo album. Since launching Livestream Reimagined, both the natural scenery and the musical choices are very much influenced by wanting to bring people closer to my inspiration. It is a harmonious audio visual presentation, designed to draw the listener into the imaginary world that fits the music.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Hmmm, I think I’d have to say the Royal Albert Hall, simply because there is so much history and it’s such a privilege. Every time I set foot on that stage I remember my twenty year old student self, at the Royal College of Music, looking across the road from a practice room, imagining how it would feel!
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music audiences/listeners?
I think what needs to be done is to step out of that “classical music bubble” the whole industry still finds itself in. It’s slowly changing, but reluctantly. Make it more contemporary by stepping out of its “purist” boundary without landing into the money making business of “crossover classical”, a genre that tried to oversimplify the music, by having classical musicians play the most famous pieces as well as pop covers. I think it’s a good idea to start blurring the boundaries of popular, experimental, electronic and classical music in a tasteful and natural way. This would mean, keeping the creativity at a high level, maintaining the interest of a younger audience and also securing a sustainable future for it.
Classical music is an art form, which involves a deeper level of understanding before one can really appreciate it, so exposing young minds to it is definitely a very big step in the right direction. This can be achieved by having more government funding in the arts and classical music, especially during these strange times we are experiencing!
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I can’t choose one! A very special memory is when I performed Mozart’s concerto in G Major with a chamber orchestra in Switzerland. The concentration and focus leading up to it and the actual performance, during which I felt elated, in flow realising I knew where every note of the concerto belonged and why.
As a contrast, playing British Summer Time with the band Elbow in front of 80.000 people was quite spectacular and humbling because of the sheer number of people united in one place to enjoy music together. Also a very recent one, was for the 50th anniversary of the band “Steeleye Span”, fiddle duetting with Peter Knight on the stage of the Barbican!
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Success means to never stop growing as an artist, to do something creative every day, to be able to fill your days with the joy of music as well as just enjoying the side effects of being a musician – travelling to distant places, meeting people from all walks of life, let yourself be inspired by going to art galleries, reading and just contemplating life. Being free to be yourself. Success in a more traditional sense, also means making a good living from music, keeping your integrity and being well respected by your contemporaries and colleagues.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Never lose faith in your abilities, but always listen back to your own performances – something which many musicians (myself included at times) shy away from! You end up learning more than you think. Listen to your teachers, even if you disagree with their opinion, because they have a whole lot more experience than you. It is also very important to have a clear vision of what success looks like, but at the same time keep an open mind and let other ideas and people influence you.
What is your most treasured possession?
My violin, made to measure for me by David Bague i Soler, a wonderful luthier from Barcelona, who studied in Cremona and makes modern copies of Stradivari and Guarneri violins. Every violin has a different voice, they are all individuals and learning new repertoire with it, through the years is a constant inspiration, but also a challenge and a frustration at times. A violin is like a partner for life, you love them dearly and accept there will be good days and there will be bad days, but you know you bring the best out in one another.
Livestream Reimagined is Violeta Vicci’s new series of unique livestreams. Available to watch now, they aim to bring you closer to the inspiration for her album AUTOVIA. More information
Violeta Vicci (born Violeta Barreña Witschi) is a solo violinist, violist, vocalist and composer of Spanish-Swiss descent. Since starting the violin at the age of four, and giving her concert debut at the age of fifteen, she pursued studies in London at the Royal Academy of Music with professors Howard Davis and Tomotada Soh, and at the Royal College of Music under the tutelage of Itzhak Rashkovsky. Now residing permanently in London, she performs regularly in major concert venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and the Barbican, as well as numerous festivals and venues around the UK and abroad including Australia, Oman, Mexico, France, Chile, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Italy.