Charlie Siem's flair for classical music caught the attention of the multi-talented Ivan Olita, who couldn't wait to catch up with the talent, who stole a kiss from Lady Gaga, and interview him for Swide...
Choose one from the quotes below and explain why or just post your own and explain why
- A love of classical music is only partially a natural response to hearing the works performed, it also must come about by a decision to listen carefully, to pay close attention, a decision inevitably motivated by the cultural and social prestige of the art. Charles Rosen
- Anyone who has passed though the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape. William Hazlitt
- Classical music is the kind we keep thinking will turn into a tune. Kin Hubbard
I choose the Charles Rosen quote as he is a familiar character to me having studied his work at university. I must say that I am very impressed at you singling him out Ivan! What he says is probably true for many people and I know that my own appreciation is certainly heightened by actively engaging with the music. However I remember being a small child and hearing certain pieces that moved me in a way that I couldn't explain. They spoke to me directly even though I didn't initially reciprocate in terms of focusing my attention. I was forced to engage! I think there are many people who would say that they always found it easy to listen to classical music as they discovered an instant connection that was nurtured from then on.
When I attend a classical music concert, I always have the feeling that the musicians are making love with their instruments. It is such a high, pure but still sensual love that the audience is frozen by, falling in a breathtaking of meditative state. I do really think there's a explicit connection with the way you make music and an inner state of deep research, both for you and the audience, do you agree?
It should be an intense experience for both the public and performer - that is what we are all searching for! One of the purposes of great music and live performance is to draw one into the living present and ultimately put the past and the future in perspective. We are constantly going about our lives consumed by concerns and anxieties that are unrelated to the present and so it is natural to need something that helps us reconnect with the excitement of right now. It doesn't always happen but it is exhilarating when it does.
Let's talk about the relationship you have with your instrument, I know it's a kind of a special one. You loaned the first one from your maestro, right? Tell us how it works generally.
It is a unique relationship that one has with the instrument. I play on a Guarnerius 'del Gesú' made in Cremona in 1735. It is loaned to me by a trust for a limited period of time. That is how it generally works with musicians these days as the great instruments are so valuable one has to rely on the generosity of these trusts and foundations. I can't imagine giving up my particular violin now as we have experienced so much together - travelling around the world, recording all my CD's and seeing me through some of my greatest moments! It is almost a spiritual bond that enriches my life. I can't say what it means to the violin though as I am merely a passenger in its extraordinary and long life!
What kind of music are you listening to when you're.. let's stay, under the shower?
Haha! I actually just took a shower and had some old 1920's recordings of the original crooner Al Bowlly playing in the room!
I appreciate you very much because of many reasons - you're young talented and so on- but one of the things that excites me the most regarding you is that you're in a position in where you can spread something. Move it from the niches and bring it to the mainstream. You're a connecting bridge, you can stretch the boundaries, and by doing that you're becoming a crossover figure even if you stick to what you do best, playing the violin. How do you feel about that?
Well, I am not a crusader by any means. I do what I do and I try to do it as best as I can. I am stimulated by constantly challenging myself and doing things differently to how I did them previously. At the moment that is all that concerns me - I believe that if ones intentions are filled with positivity and generosity then strategy and planning are pointless - you get what you deserve!
Who's your greatest source of inspiration?
My parents have always inspired me and continue to do so. There are many fantastic violinists from the last 200 years and I am constantly learning from them. I try to get inspired by as many people as I can - I reckon everyone has the capability to inspire if given the chance.
The seal of approval from Lady Gaga
Give advice to your past self. And to your future self.
I try not to over think the past or future. I wouldn't be where I am now if I took any other advice in the past and I don't know where I will be in the future.
If I take a look inside your refrigerator what would I find that keeps you trained and focused the best to perform?
My fridge is full of caviar and champagne!
The whole music industry is changing with 2.0 web and so on? Is classical music changing as well or is it remaining like it used to be? I mean, how is the web influencing classical music?
Classical music has certainly had to adapt to the new Internet based world just like everyone. I think it presents new opportunities as many people can discover the music in a more relaxed and informal 'behind the scenes' way. It makes our music more approachable as the web audience can familiarise themselves with the music and the artists extensively before finally deciding to attend a live concert. This gives the audience a new sense of participation and involvement that increases understanding and enjoyment.
Geoff Colvin in his latest book claims that talent does not exist, so apparently every single person that practices the right amount of hours (thousands and thousands) from early age, is able to get incredibily very good in what he does. I know you don't agree, who else better than you can explains us why there's still something missing in his theory?
I suppose it depends on how you define incredible! I think one can certainly get a lot better with many hours of work at anything but I believe that to really master something like playing a musical instrument, one has to have an inherent natural ability aswell. it is hard to put ones finger on that intangible concept of 'talent'. I can't tell you if it's genetic or where it comes from but I know from having seen some musicians work hard and yet never achieve the level of others who may not have even put in as much effort.
What's your plan B?
I have no plan.
Have you ever composed a sonata for violin, would you like to?
I don't think the sonata form would be appropriate for me to write in if I decided to compose.
Where on Earth would you scream YES if you learned you had to travel there?
Teach us something useful. Anything.
Take it easy and life becomes easier
Last but not least we would love to have a playlist from you, 5 songs is enough.
Ok, I cant help getting serious when people ask me for a playlist as I immediately want to list classical pieces that move me tremendously.
In no particular order;
- Mahler symphony no 5
- Bruckner symphony no 8
- Mozart requiem
- Bach mass in b minor
I'll take down the intensity with David Bowie 'china girl' - just listening to it as I am in Shanghai!!