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Anny Chen - Violin

Interview

1. You started your musical education at a very young age. Is your family musical?

No, but my older sister started violin and piano lessons before me and I followed suit so that’s how it started!

2. In 2001, at the age of 6, you won 3rd Prize at the Canadian Musical Competition (CMC) where you were the youngest participant. Do you remember much from that day, what you played and how you felt?

I can’t remember the performance in much detail, but I do have a very strong impression from of the whole preparation process and the trip to Quebec. It was very exciting for me and I really enjoyed having lots of lessons every week just before the competition and the practice sessions every day with my mother watching and helping. It was also a very exciting for me to go to a part of Canada that speaks French and to be a part of a big event like national music competition.

3. You have won many awards since then, do any particularly stand out for you?

I think they all stand out to me and I have very special memories from each competition. The preparation is always very rewarding and it is a strong motivator, to have a competition ahead of you, as it pushes you to have a large repertoire ready at the same time and to bring out the best in yourself. It is also interesting once you are at a competition because you have the chance to hear many other talented violinists and meet new friends.

4. Between 2010 and 2014 you were an active participant in the Perlman Music Programme in New York, under the coaching of Itzhak Perlman. Did you gain extra skills and experiences in these summer / winter break workshops?

Yes, definitely. Being a part of the Perlman Music Program was absolutely wonderful and it helped me develop a lot as a person and musician. It is a very small group so we all had the chance to work very closely with all the teachers and it is the perfect encouraging environment for learning. The daily and weekly schedules are very carefully planned so we could always practice, rehearse chamber groups, playing in orchestras, sing in choir, have individual lessons and have the chance to perform at the end of each week if we wanted to. A very important skill I learned at PMP which I did not have enough of before was to play chamber music more seriously and how to rehearse and listen to others in a group.

5. You studied at the Purcell School for Young Musicians in London until 2012 under the guidance of Evgene Grach. How do you recall this important time for you and how was it like to be mentored by this person?

I loved being at the Purcell School, it was like a home to me. It was a small community and I had great friends and my sister was also there so those were some of the best years of my life so far. Mr. Grach was the best teacher I could ever have wished for and he taught me almost everything I know about the violin. He is a fantastic violinist who always inspired me and caring teacher who guided me every step of the way until college. I still think back on things he told me at school whenever I have any crisis while practicing!

6. In 2012, you were selected to lead the Purcell Symphony Orchestra in its 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert at the Royal Festival Hall. How did this feel like and how was the atmosphere like in that iconic hall?

It was a real privilege to lead the orchestra for that concert and it was a really special experience. The atmosphere was very warm as there were many ex Purcellians in the audience and it was a lovely concert. The main feeling I had when we played there was that it was such an enormous hall and that my sound the solos was very small… It would be a dream to play there as a soloist some day, but it definitely is a huge space to fill with sound!

7. You are currently a student at the Royal College of Music, in the class of Dr. Felix Andrievsky. Are you enjoying your time there?

Yes! Dr. Andrievsky is a fantastic teacher and was my top choice professor when I was applying to colleges. I am very lucky to be able to learn from his boundless pool of wisdom and experience.

8. How long and how often do you practice?

This is probably the most difficult question to answer… Dr. Andrievsky says that we should all practice ‘as little as possible’. He means enough for us to play well, but not more than that so that there is still spontaneity and magic every time we play. Personally, my practice times vary depending on what I have coming up. It can be from none to 6 hours a day.

9. Would you consider teaching music in the future?

Definitely! I think teaching is very useful and you can learn a lot by teaching.

10. Would you have a dream partner, vocal or instrumental you would like to perform with?

My dream partner was always Itzhak Perlman and I was fortunately enough to have my dream come true because during the summer and winter workshops at PMP, we always had the chance to play chamber music with him, although I’ve never performed with him!

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submission January 2015