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Johanna Röhrig - Violin

Interview

1- You are currently studying for a Bachelor of Music degree at the Royal Academy of Music, London, with Prof. Nicholas Miller. How is this progressing?

It is going really well for me! Mr Miller was the main reason I decided to study at the Royal Academy of Music and not at one of the other Music Schools in London, and I am very happy about this decision! His teaching is a well-balanced mix of both technical instructions and musical inspiration, and he has an unbelievable intuitive approach of showing overall phrases to create a greater sense out of all the small details in a piece.

2- Is your family musical?

I wouldn’t describe my family as not musical, but they aren’t professional musicians either. Both my parents are able to play the guitar, the piano, and to sing on a basic level, and my sister is playing the violin as well (she is really talented!), but none of them is doing it professionally.

3- Who was your first music teacher?

My first music teacher, who has become a great friend of mine now, is Waltraud Krause, a violin teacher who specialised herself on teaching children. I only became her student due to a coincidence, but I was really lucky that things went as they did. She was and still is a strong, tall and mysterious artist, interested in all different aspects of life. She for example let my play a modern piece for a competition which featured… a drying rack! Unluckily the Jury wasn’t that convinced, but I definitely had a lot of fun!

4- In January 2016 you won 2nd prize at the International Competition Città di Padova in Italy. What pieces did you play and how did the audience respond?

I was really lucky to get the chance of playing the Violin Concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven for the finals, which took place in January. Although playing for a mostly Italian audience being used to show pieces like Paganini (the first prize-winner played a Paganini Concerto) I think that they really liked the Beethoven, maybe in a more intimate way. It was deadly quiet in the hall during the slow movement, and I enjoyed especially this part of the performance a lot. I also had to give a lot of autographs at the end, which was a totally new experience for me.

5- You were awarded 1st prize at the International Spring Academy Competition Neustadt (2014). How did this feel like and can you remember the pieces you played?

I was playing the “Variations on an original theme” by H. Wieniawsky and the second movement of the second Violin Solo Sonata by Ysaye, “Les Furies”. This competition, in opposite to the one in Italy, brought a lot of pressure with it. It was taking place at the end of a 7-day-long masterclass, and we had all played the repertoire we were going to perform in the competition before. Everybody sort of expected me to win, and even the local newspapers were speculating about the outcome of the competition.

Really glad it went the well for me!!!

6- You are a member of the ensemble c4, a baroque ensemble based in Berlin. Clearly being in London is not an impediment to you touring with them as you will be going to Greece next spring and clearly the ensemble is successful. What do you think is the magic that leads to that success?

I think the “magic” the ensemble c4 has consists of the fact that we are not only colleagues making music together but also being good friends the rest of the time. We’re all living in different cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig and London, so everyone of us really has to put some effort in playing and performing together. If not everybody wanted to make this work, it clearly wouldn’t and I think that it is exactly this kind of engagement what people get to see and enjoy in a concert.

7- What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

To be honest I’m not thinking back to past performances that much, because I rather focus on what is going to come in the future! But playing the Beethoven Concerto in Italy, or the Carmen Fantasy with the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie are great memories, of course. Both concerts were concerts I had put a lot of effort in, more than into other performances, because both contained a very difficult programme, so I guess that’s why they both so bright in my memory.

8- How often do your practice?

On a daily basis, of course;) I rarely have days off, which I should do more often, I guess.. But practice isn’t a burden to me, I enjoy the intense time I have with my instrument, I enjoy working on my technique and on repertoire as well, and besides, I couldn’t play in concerts and recitals if I didn’t prepare the programme!

9- Would you consider teaching music in the future?

Of course! And I am already doing so;) I have a little student here in London, which is very gifted, and teaching her gives me new challenges every single time I’m seeing her! But I love being as creative as possible to develop her technical skills and learning new pieces with her! After our last lesson she’s sent me a text saying that she wanted to practice a lot to make me proud next lesson- I was really please to read that..:)

10- Who would your dream accompanist be, from the present or past?

There is a pianist whom I have played a lot with in Germany, her name is Yoko Yamada! She’s working as an accompanist at the Musikhoschule Lübeck (northern Germany) and is an exceptional pianist, and, most importantly, musician. We are still playing together, and I’m incredibly lucky to have someone as great as here playing concerts with me!

11- How do you balance your time commitments in terms of study, research, performance? What are the biggest sacrifices?

The biggest sacrifice is definitely the research.. To be honest (I know I should feel bad about it) that luckily is also the part which I can live best without! In terms of performances I always try to perform the repertoire I should be learning and vice versa, so that study and performances go hand in hand and support each other.

12- Germany clearly has a richer pedigree in classical music with so many composers that have hailed from that land. So what was the impetus that drove you to study also in London?

The Royal Academy of Music has been one of my childhood dreams ever since I’ve heard about it. I felt unbelievably happy to been offered the chance to come here; this and the experience of living outside of Germany for the first time in my life were the main reasons why I moved to London. Maybe England doesn’t have the same musical history as Germany offers, but nowadays there is so much going on here, especially in a city like London; there are famous orchestras, soloists and conductors performing here every day, and the Academy offers so much support and opportunities to its students, what German Universities could never do.

To return to Johanna’s profile:

submission December 2016