Francisco Fullana, violinist

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?

Starting as early as most of us do (I was 4), music began as something fun to do and slowly became more and more a core part of my identity as I was growing up. I honestly never saw myself doing anything else. I have been lucky enough to have great mentors, from Bernat Pomar, who was a fantastic teacher for kids in Mallorca and created a fun and creative method called El Meu Violí, all the way to Midori, who I studied with in Los Angeles and who has been an incredible inspiration.

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

Well, I think we can all agree the pandemic has been the biggest challenge for most humans on this planet. I have been performing in front of others since I was a kid, so the idea of not getting on stage for months at a time was a hard one to grapple with.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

Performing the Brahms Concerto with Dudamel and the Teresa Carreño Orchestra was definitely a memorable concert. The energy and intensity the young musicians from El Sistema brought to the piece, inspired by Gustavo, was something I will never forget. That experience was the one that made me realize how much I love playing and working with young musicians, there’s nothing like it.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Baroque music has always been something I feel very comfortable with, and over the past couple of years I have been able to explore period performance practice that helps me express the music from that period in a more vivid way. I am a pretty intense person when it comes to my emotions, so any music related to my country of Spain or to other folk music, such as works from Bartok or Enescu, is something I also love to perform.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

The natural beauty of this world is an endless source of inspiration. From road biking to hiking, to swimming and simply experiencing what the world and my environment has to offer. The other source of inspiration is connection with others, which I have definitely missed through this pandemic time.

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

Researching and understanding better the connections between the new and the old is something I am always excited about. So many living and 20th century composers have looked towards the Baroque and even earlier for inspiration. Using those threads between centuries to weave a new recital program is at the core of my programming philosophy.

I also go through these periods where I will try to learn any violin piece written by a composer while also listening to the rest of their opus. It allows me to be surrounded by one person’s music and gives me a deep perspective that informs my performances of his/her works.

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

That’s difficult to say!! The first one that comes to mind is Alice Tully Hall in New York City. There is a unique electricity and excitement in the air that NYC audiences bring. I have specially felt that during the performances of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society. Going on stage to a packed house at Tully still gives me goosebumps!!

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences/listeners?

I believe growing the audiences from the start is the way to go: educating young people and giving them the opportunity to discover how exciting classical music can be. From the classics to fantastic new music, there’s a wide range of music that speaks to different audiences. And there is no better way to grab young people’s interest than putting an instrument on their hands.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Leading Madrid’s Royal Conservatory Orchestra in the Spanish National Hall was a magical experience for me. I came back after having studied there to run a residency as part of my Fortissimo Youth Initiative. Being able to put together a challenging yet exciting program, rehearse all week, get to know these talented students, it was a perfect week in so many ways.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Success to me means maximizing one’s platform and voice for the common good. Performing big concerts and being well known is only satisfying if you then are able to make a difference in the world of music and contribute in a way that where the power of classical music touches many others’ lives.

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

Classical music is truly fun and exciting. Yes, it takes a lot of discipline and there is no way around the fact that you have to put in the hours. But the power of being able to move people with your music, to transport them to a different place, is incredible. And on top of that, there is no better way to connect with someone than to play together with them, teaming up to try your very best to take the audience on a sonic journey.

What is your present state of mind?

My state of mind at the moment is full of hope and gratitude. The pandemic has been so difficult at times, from worrying about my family’s health to stripping away all live performances for such a long time. But we are turning the corner, there’s excitement building up towards the return of live concerts, and I am grateful that I will still be able to do what I love to do. The pandemic hasn’t made me given up but has made me stronger and more aware of how fortunate I am to call myself a violinist!

Bach’s Long Shadow, Francisco Fullana’s new release, is released on 28 May on the Orchid Classics label

Spanish-born violinist Francisco Fullana, winner of the 2018 Avery Fisher Career Grant, has been hailed as a “rising star” (BBC Music Magazine), an “amazing talent” (conductor Gustavo Dudamel) and “frighteningly awesome” (Buffalo News). His Carnegie Hall recital debut was noted for its “joy and playfulness in collaboration … it was perfection” (New York Concert Review).

A native of Mallorca in the Balearic Islands of Spain, Francisco is making a name for himself as both a performer and a leader of innovative educational institutions. As a soloist, he has performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Bayerische Philharmonie led by the late Sir Colin Davis, the Sibelius Concerto with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, and the Brahms Violin Concerto with Venezuela’s Teresa Carreño Orchestra under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. His versatility as a performer has brought him to perform with numerous ensembles across the artistic spectrum: from major orchestras such as the City of Birmingham, Vancouver, Pacific and Buffalo symphony orchestras, the chamber orchestras of Saint Paul and Philadelphia, to the baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire and the new music driven Metropolis Ensemble. Francisco has worked under the batons of Hans Graf, Alondra de la Parra, Christoph Poppen, Jeannette Sorrell, and Joshua Weilerstein, among many others.

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