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?
At first, I have been dragged into music by listening to my father (kind of self-taught) improvising on the piano in the evenings on our upright Gaveau. So this was the first big influence somehow because he played extremely freely with a lot of care about the sound. When I was a child, I didn’t know much about classical music, except for the Nocturnes by Chopin that I listened to every night at some point, but I had an immediate fascination for the instrument.
Then it has been about meetings, about discoveries, but not necessarily musical ones, artistic ones in general. By watching some movies for instance, my wish to pursue a career grew. I am thinking about the movie “Le maître de musique” with the amazing singer José Van Dam. This movie definitely played a big part in my musical life. I also love short silent movies where the music matters a lot and have always been captivated while watching ballets like Sleeping Beauty.
If I try to summarize what influenced me the most I would say the power of storytelling in art, generally, and through music in particular.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
My greatest challenge so far has been actually something very intimate. It is about confidence and positivity. I often have been uncertain about my ability, the value of my own voice. “Do I really have something to tell, to express, that needs to be said?”, “Do I serve the music well?”, “Do I practice enough?”. A lot of questions and doubts have challenged the path I’ve chosen to follow. The greatest challenge is for me to try to believe in myself and to follow my need to express myself through music, because it has always been necessary to me, like breathing, like talking.
I had to learn to be more into the present, to be at peace with the simple idea of trying my best and enjoying the happiness of simply being lucky enough to practice, to feel the instrument, to discover amazing repertoire. But this is a process I am still experimenting with daily.
Somehow my experience at Ingesund Piano Center helped me to figure out how to grow as much as I can, being humble but proud of myself. I had the opportunity for some very interesting conversations with the other pianists here, in Arvika, and with Prof. Julia Mustonen-Dahlkvist, and I realized that we were all going through the same process, in a way. The same questioning, the same wish to serve the music at our very best, and the same fears not to be able to do so. At the end of the day, we all have something to express that is truly important, because of our diversity, our personalities.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
I am quite satisfied with a recording of three Mazurkas Opus. 3 by Scriabin I did for the French national radio, because it isn’t played enough and it is really a treasure of the pianistic repertoire so I am happy some people might have discovered it through this video.
I am also proud of a concert I gave in my hometown, Lyon, in France. I played two concertos, the second by Chopin and the first by Rachmaninov. I was thrilled to play the two of them in the same evening and it felt like I was able to overcome my fears and express myself, play exactly the way I wanted to hear it, and together with the orchestra, it was a beautiful experience.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
I think I perform my best when I connect strongly with the music.
I am thinking about Séverac’s music, a French composer (not known enough), about Granados’ Goyescas also.
The second sonata by Brahms, concertos by Rachmaninov, especially the first one. Schubert’s Klavierstücke…
What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?
I am definitely a “walker”. I can walk three or four, or even more hours a day, every day, with my dog. In Arvika this has been paradise for me because the woods are endless, the landscapes are amazing, and I can walk alone in a very deep and beautiful nature, surrounded by birdsong, deer peacefully eating, silence, wind, and pine scents. Walking and contemplating nature (sitting in front of a sunset close to the lake entire evenings) provides me with the most part of my inspiration.
I also get a lot of inspiration through poetry. I am especially inspired by French poets Baudelaire, and Eluard (I am literally obsessed with his writing), but there are so many I love to read, and I can read the same text a thousand times, for instance by Anna Akhmanova, John Keats, or the contemporary poet Rupi Kaur.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I always try to have a coherence between the pieces I choose to play. Sometimes it is a concept in my mind, sometimes it is a century or a style, but most generally it’s all linked around an idea, an atmosphere. I try to mix pieces that challenge me and pieces with which I feel a huge connection. I also always include some unknown repertoire because I am very curious and it seems that hidden treasures are everywhere.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I don’t think so, because I like how various the atmospheres can be depending on the halls and the audience, the country. I like warm acoustics and some kind of intimacy, so huge venues aren’t necessarily my favourite, though I can be extremely ecstatic about it…! Actually, for sure, no favourite venue so far.
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences/listeners?
I think it is important to communicate with the audience, be true, not to be inaccessible. Really thinking about the repertoire, to know what we want to share and why is very important. Sometimes for us musicians, the language is very clear, the essence and the meaning as well, and we forget that sharing this clearly, in a note or verbally can generate even more interest.
I think education also plays a big part in the future of classical music. We must bring classical music to children, to schools, off stage somehow. And I am also a dreamer but I am convinced that the more passionate we are the more passionate people around us can get. Enthusiasm can be very contagious!
What is your most memorable concert experience?
The first time I attended a recital by Grigory Sokolov. Time just stopped and I was hypnotized by his sound, how music spoke in his hands. Such a tension in the hall, such a silence, we could hear the most pianissimo dynamic until the last row of the last balcony.
One I gave: a chamber music concert I did in the National Theatre in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. I was playing with a violinist and something absolutely magical happened that I have never experienced at another time in my life. We were playing Franck Sonata and at some point, we could feel we were carried away ourselves. It is very hard to explain, we both felt it; for one page of the music it was especially intense and deep. It is a rare feeling, I must say I don’t know how to to describe it. And after this passage – this is the magical part – the 3000 people in the audience applauded, like they would have done at a pop concert or in a jazz concert after a solo.
So we not only experienced something very strong but we experienced it all together somehow, and the audience expressed it. It is something we are not used to (and I know a lot of people can be disturbed by applause during movements for instance) and it was just beautiful.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
The first thing that comes to my mind is to touch people. Music is to me almost like a magical thing, so the success would be to share its power, to give something through the playing that is beyond time, beyond ages, beyond languages, and differences. Bringing people together on a journey that connects them to something that has been written a hundred years ago, for instance, is fascinating.
For me, a successful musician is not someone who will necessarily be world famous, or gets paid a lot. It is someone who, when I listen to in concert, I feel something special, and the chemistry in the audience creates a powerful atmosphere and it becomes both a very individual experience and a community (of people that don’t know each other, that would probably have never talked nor met) journey, and sharing. That’s success.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I think one should keep in mind that talent is work, patience is precious, and to be happy with where and what we are at the moment, to be happy during the process, because being a musician is like a quest. And maybe that one shouldn’t forget that this is a whole thing. In my opinion, being a musician is about being curious, reading for instance, looking around, feeding the music, and most of all being generous as a human being because when we play we give according to who we are.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It is embracing the idea that it is not something to wait for under certain conditions. I am not there yet at all, but I am convinced that perfect happiness can be experienced when we learn how to cherish what we have more than ideals we would like to reach. Which doesn’t mean one shouldn’t have huge dreams that could go over the moon, because this is something vital, but never forget to enjoy what actually exists today, here and now. However, happiness for me is a lot about family and loved ones and if we speak about the dream, I close my eyes and see a next-morning recital (where I would have played my best in repertoire that matters to me) with people I care about, some good coffee, dogs playing around, a ray of sunshine, maybe some Billie Holiday songs, and definitely a honeypot nearby.
Jodyline Gallavardin is an Artist-in-Residence with Ingesund Piano Center in Arvika, Sweden, which offers young world-class pianists the support to cultivate international, sustainable and high-profile performing careers, led by Julia Mustonen-Dahlkvist. Jodyline Gallavardin performs Ravel’s La valse as part of the Center’s inaugural NORDIC STAGE Gala Concerts online on Thursday 27 May, 3 & 10 June, streaming free from ingesundpiano.com.
Born in 1992 in France, Jodyline joined the prestigious Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Lyon (CNSM) when she was only 17.
She earned two master’s degrees: one in piano after her study with Marie-Josèphe Jude and one in chamber music after her study in the class of Dana Ciocarlie with whom she still collaborates.
After her graduation, she had the opportunity to give many concerts in France in concert halls such as Opéra de Lyon, Salle Molière, Auditorium Darius Milhaud, Goethe-Institut, Auditorium du Petit Palais (Paris) and on the international stage (Piano City in Milano, Villa Musica in Germany, Espace Fusterie in Geneva, Institut de Ribaupierre in Lausanne, Palazetto Bru Zane in Venezia).