A London Trio

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?

Our musical influences are what makes us who we are. The biggest influence in my life, says Yekaterina Lebedeva, was my teacher E.D. Umansky whose natural inquisitiveness and thoughtfulness inspired me to be the same. He never stopped learning, discovering new things, ideas and has instilled it in me. He played his last concert to celebrate his 80th birthday and interestingly enough it was also a literary evening with poetry reading. I am not surprised that it is the blend of different art forms that inspires me too. Anna Kondrashina comes from a very musical family where her grandfather, father and older brother are well-known professional musicians. Being her inspiration they have had a very big influence on the choice of profession. Eun Cho was obsessed with music from a young age, but it was her teacher Natalia Gutman who made her realise that she can achieve something in music “Natalia gave me a depth that I had never experienced before in her musical exploration and that opened up new worlds for me”.

As musicians, what is your definition of success?

We believe that success comes in many guises:

– smiles or tears in the audience from music well played is a success,

– to be able to live off music, to do what you love is a success,

– full concert hall is a success of sorts

– being able to realise your musical intentions is a success

– well-chosen programmes

In collaboration, success comes when everyone works together well, finding their unity as a group but also bringing out their own personality and differences. It is the ability to contribute your personal view of the music in a musical conversation between your partners. The expression of those dynamics is what makes chamber music particularly exciting.

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

We are looking for inspiration in other art forms such as cinema, theatre, literature, and dance. Nature is a great source of inspiration as it brings calmness to mind and feeds the soul.

Off-stage, says Eun Cho, I spend a lot of time working with young musicians and their fresh ideas and energy always gives me a new direction and inspiration for what I do. Teaching can be a great teacher in that way.

I find other artists very inspiring, says Yekaterina, people who work in different creative fields. I love “cross pollination” and it gives me assurance and strength to carry out my artistic ideas!

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

“I believe”, says Anna “that every concert must have a unique theme or idea created by musicians themselves. When the audience feel they have been invited to something special, they will come back and bring their friends with them. We need to listen to people more.”

Classical music is right for some people at some times in their life and not right for all people all the time. I don’t think classical music should try to go too far into the territory of other genres, says Eun, because then it loses itself “For me, classical music is about deep listening and discovering things through music that you didn’t know you could feel.. I don’t think this can be achieved in the same way in every environment. I think concert halls are silent for a reason”.

“Education is a key” says Yekaterina. “Music education at schools is important, as well as educating our audience, taking time to talk to people, initiate them into the world of music and not just classical! Mixing art forms helps a lot as it is less formal, more friendly, not as daunting as having to sit through a 2 hour recital with no prior experience.”

Which particular works/composers do you think you perform best?

Anna has a particular attachment to music of Dmitri Shostakovich. Eun is naturally drawn to composers such as Britten, Schumann and Bach. Yekaterina says that choices of repertoire very much depend on what is happening in life right now…is it a reflective time? Is it a dynamic time? Is it a time of turmoil or peace. We all feel that it is important to bring joy and inspiration to people’s lives, a moment of calm, serenity and beauty, particularly in the times we live in.

What advice would you give to young/aspiring musicians?

It takes a lot of courage and stamina to become a professional musician. We believe it is important to always look for inspiration, have friends who are interested in the music as you do and never give up! Don’t be afraid of trying different ideas and different things; that doesn’t diminish your identity. Don’t be lazy about practicing difficult skills that can make beautiful ideas come out. There’s no avoiding the fact that great playing is the result of a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of technical progress to catch up with your imagination and the key is to keep that imagination alive while doing that patient work.

A London Trio is is presenting a concert on Sunday, 12th February, at 12 noon in Marylebone Theatre in a style inspired by Parisian Café-Concerts with guest theatre performer Diana Krasovska. Information/tickets here

Yekaterina studied in Kiev Tchaikovsky Conservatoire and was invited to perform in Fresh series at the Southbank Centre, launching her career in the UK. Anna is a granddaughter of a renowned conductor Kirill Kondrashin. Eun was the last student of great cellist Natalia Gutman.