Making A Recording! | Banff Diaries 6

I made a recording!! I’m thrilled to announce that a brand new recording of Sonia Eckhardt-Gramatté’s 10 Solo Violin Caprices is finally going to exist, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.  In this video, I take you inside the recording process and give you a glimpse of how it’s done, what goes on, the equipment used and the dynamics between me and the recording engineer team.  It was such a brilliant and fun experience and I can’t wait to share it with you! Enjoy!

Check out my last video, where I get chatty about what’s been going on at The Banff Centre, try out a run through of the Caprices for the first time and work with AMAZING musician Caroline Shaw

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Fan Girl Updates | Banff Diaries 5

A lot happened this week! I played a run-through of the Caprices, together with the slideshow, and experienced what that was like for the first time.  I also played to my colleagues in the ‘Sharing Circle’, had a one-to-one session with the BRILLIANT Caroline Shaw and even struck up the courage to play a set at the bar! Certainly was a work and music packed week! I’m now gearing up for the big performance tomorrow night and preparing for recording next week.  Get ready for a chatty vlog!

Check out my last video, where I get a little lost in the mountains and talk in more detail about my plans for the slideshow

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Getting Lost and Secret Records | Banff Diaries 4

The slideshow is staying! In this video, I explain my plans for executing the slideshow while I perform and… I also get a bit lost in the mountains! It’s a short and sweet one today, hope you enjoy!

Check out my last video, where I talk about the wonderful live poetry reading I went to and also give you an update on how the whole project is coming together!

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The Craft of Poetry | Banff Diaries 3

I got to hear a live poetry reading for the first time! The experience of hearing writers read their own material, often about very personal stories or political feelings, made me pretty emotional, so I’m glad I talked to the camera about it straight after, to document that feeling.  In this video I also sum up how my project is going at the end of my first week at The Banff Centre; the challenges I am facing as well as the things I am loving. Hope you enjoy!

Check out my last video, where I talked about some really important questions, and especially about forgotten women artists

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Shedding Light on Female Artists | Banff Diaries 2

In this video I talk about the questions that have been on my mind since being at the Banff Centre; about staying motivated to make music and art in a world full of monsters like Trump and, particularly, about all of the women artists that have been forgotten or were never known, simply because they were women. I am hoping, with my project, to shed some light on this issue, and to give at least one of these women a voice.

Check out my last video, where I arrived at the beautiful Banff Centre and began my artist residency here!

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Arrival and Feeling Inspired | Banff Diaries 1

 

I’ve arrived at Banff! With its staggering natural beauty and community of creatives with completely unique artistic projects, I’m feeling really inspired to get down to work. In this video diary, I take you from Germany to Calgary, up Tunnel Mountain, and around the Banff Centre campus (*complete with a tour of the breakfast buffet!).  Hope you enjoy!

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Salzburg Concert Vlog

 

Here is my video diary of my trip to Salzburg to perform 6 of Sonia Eckhardt-Gramatté’s 10 Solo Violin Caprices in a concert for my classmates and teacher. I am getting to know this music better and better and this was a valuable experience, to hear their reactions to the music as well as experience for myself what it was like to perform it.

 

 

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Introducing My New Project!

I am so excited and thrilled to share my plans for my new creative music project! I am about to embark on a month-long independent artistic residency at The Banff Centre, Canada, where I will be creating a unique and immersive performance of solo violin music by a wonderful composer, Sonia Eckhardt-Gramatté, as well as a recording which will be shared in the archives of the Eckhardt-Gramatté Foundation and the Canadian Music Centre.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep updated with my video-diaries of this whole project!  I will be posting my video-diaries here on my blog too.

Read about the life of Sonia Eckhardt-Gramatté in my blogpost

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Inspirations from India

The Gateway of India, Mumbai

I spent this Christmas (2017) in India.  It was my first time visiting this country, and it was a more intensely life-altering and challenging experience than I ever imagined it could be.  Since coming home last week, I am finding that I am re-evaluating everything and looking at my life completely differently; I am seeing with new eyes what is truly important to me, considering myself extremely lucky in areas that I previously had ignored, questioning my automatic reactions to my ‘stressful’ problems, and disregarding the attitudes of others to things that have no real value to me.  Before my trip I had lost sight of the importance and truth of what I have.  Things like my nice, warm home, fast WiFi which connects me directly to everyone I love, the freedom of doing a job that I have chosen because it is work that I love, feeling safe and the luxuries of going food shopping or having a vast choice of different restaurants to go to.  In India, I saw life without any of these privileges, people forced into jobs in toxic conditions, tiny children trying their best to pickpocket and people working so hard everyday just to make some small amount of money to live by.

But more than all of this, I met a richness of culture that I really han’t fully anticipated.  The sights and smells, the people and how they communicate, the food and the overarching beauty of the country swept me away and have very much stayed at the forefront of my thoughts and dreams this past week.  I wanted to take you through my experiences with this blog post, so I hope you find it interesting and feel encouraged to explore this country that has so much to offer one’s soul!

Smiling at some cheeky children on the beach at Marine Drive, Mumbai.  I found this city to be full of a disparity between the rich and poor; you would see run down, ramshackle buildings right next to modern and luxurious sky-scrapers.  But on this piece of beach, at sunset, we met all kinds of people, just enjoying themselves, with a real sense of community and ‘togetherness’.

Markets or Bazaars

The infamous Fashion Street – a street full of vendors all trying their hardest to direct you towards their stall by thrusting some pair of ‘Levis’ in your face.  Before we went to Fashion Street, I had read that one must absolutely haggle and bargain to the fullest but actually experiencing this type of selling was CRAZY.  We quickly learned the trick of walking away, and once we started putting this in practice we found that the so-called ‘fixed price’ of any garment suddenly dropped to a quarter of the price!

Here, the fabric markets.  The colours of India definitely jumped out at me straight away when I first got there.  They are so exotic and bold, somehow reminding me of birds of paradise.  The women’s saris, or sarees, are absolutely beautiful and are largely made by hand from different fabrics that are bought here (if you are more well-off you might prefer to get your sari custom-made at a fancy shop).

In India, all kinds of animals freely wander through the city streets, and particularly through the bazaars, where they possibly have the greatest chance of nicking something to eat!  There were goats, chickens, stray dogs and cats, monkeys and, of course, the holy cow.


The Chor Bazaar, or Thieves Market.  I would say that walking through the streets of the Chor Bazaar was one of the more challenging experiences we had.  Firstly, the smells really hit you, and are constantly changing – we found each smell would last for approximately half a second! – and while some of them are welcomed, like the smell of sugar cane juice being made or masala chai tea, some also have the power to make you feel ill (you can imagine what these were).  In the Chor we also faced watching the butchering of chickens, and although this may sound ‘white’ or ‘naive’ of me to say, it was pretty shocking.  The chickens were kept in a cage, directly on top of which they were slaughtered and butchered.  The fresh meat was then placed in a bucket, and left to sit there for hours in the sweltering 33 degree heat of the day, surrounded by flies and rats.  We needed no convincing to stay vegetarian for the rest of our trip.

I would also say that something I really hadn’t expected was that Mumbai was not touristy at all – somehow I thought we would see lots of tour groups at this time of year, but we really didn’t.  In fact, we found that we absolutely stuck out a mile because of our pale skin colour, and this made us into real targets when we walked through the markets.  White people, and I understand why, are thought of as being incredibly rich and sellers really start to harass you, which is OK for a while but really does start to get to you.  I think I also found, more than Logan, that I particularly received a lot of attention, from both males and females, perhaps for what I was wearing (western-style summer clothes), perhaps for my skin colour, perhaps just for being a girl (of which we did not see many out and about, mostly men and boys worked at the markets)… I’m not sure.  But the constant staring also became waring.

A typical sight in the Chor Bazaar, and one which really struck us – heaps and heaps of scrap metal and car parts.

People

Football and, especially, cricket games are going on all the time in the green spaces of the city!

Some sweet schoolgirls, followed by beautiful women, whom I wanted to capture.  I found it very interesting how divided Mumbai was between its Muslim and Hindi populations, and this was another aspect that I hadn’t known about before being there.  It is very striking how differently the women of these two religions present themselves, and amazing how each can coexist in this city peacefully.

Elephanta Island and Caves

A ferry ride of about an hour takes you from the Gateway of India to Elephanta Island.  They pack the boats up pretty full, and it definitely feels really nice to get out of the hectic city for a bit.

Trying out some new spicy flavours of crisps on the ferry!  The seagulls have learned to follow these passenger boats and after a while everybody was feeding them crisps by hand!

Once you dock at the island, you have the option to take a cute little train up to the caves.  We walked it ourselves – it is not a difficult hike, and is formed of stairs with market stalls lining the path.  There are also a few places to eat on the way up to the caves (although we ate on the way back down) and even if they don’t look very promising, I can attest to the fact that I had a really tasty Biryani and didn’t get sick 🙂

Exploring the old 5th century caves and ancient carved rocks and temples inside.  It is absolutely stunning; each cave is different and magical, showing the Hindu God, Shiva, as well as other Hindu mythologies and ideas.  The island also feels so peaceful and has some gorgeous views too.  In total I would say the trip took about 4 to 5 hours.

There are loads of pesky monkeys on Elephanta Island and you definitely have to watch out for them – they will try to steal anything edible.  One monkey took a new unopened bottle of Pepsi directly from Logan’s hand!  And once they’ve got it, you just have to let them have it – you can’t fight them (just look at his teeth…).

Around Mumbai

The main train station in Mumbai, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.  It really is a sight to behold, with its stunning gothic architecture, and it is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is also one of India’s busiest railway stations.

We had a lot of fun scouring through all of these narrow alleyways and side streets, trying to scout out the best spice shops!

I feel strange including a photo like this, and I really don’t want to be offensive in any way to anyone, but I wanted to be as real as I could and show the city for what it really was, as I experienced it.  For some, the street is home and so they make the best of it that they can.  Apparently, they are known as the ‘pavement dwellers’.  It was pretty heartbreaking for us to see, especially when we were walking home at night and these people, most often with young children, were either cooking their dinner on camp stoves or going to bed.

Now here is a puzzle that we really can’t figure out.  During our whole trip, not one day went by when one of us was not asked to take a selfie with someone.  Can anyone explain why this could be?!

Kanheri Caves

Visiting the Kanheri caves was probably one of my favourite things that we did in Mumbai, and we managed to hit them right at golden hour, so they just looked so gorgeous.  Like Elephanta, these caves also contain rock carvings, but these ones are Buddhist and date back to the 1st century BCE.  The caves are located in the Gandhi park, towards the north of the city, and I would say that if you are traveling with a family, this would be a fantastic activity, as there are loads of other things to do in the park too.  The caves themselves are a 7km hike from the entrance of the park, and as we got there pretty late in the day (it was a last-minute decision) we got a cheap taxi, albeit one of the most harrowing taxi rides of my life, up to the caves.  Once we were up there we had a lot of fun exploring all the secret spots and got a great view too, although that smoke haze in the picture is real, and we are still recovering from the effects of that.

By the way, the red trousers I am wearing here were a very proud and cheap purchase of mine from Fashion Street!

Some final lasting memories

Such a fun tuk tuk ride in Delhi! We were only in Delhi for a day or so, and I really didn’t take any pictures, except for this one, and what a memory it is!

Marine Drive

This last picture is my favourite.  I love it because, to me, it sums up so much of what I experienced in India; so much going on, so many busy people working away and doing different things, bright colours, animals climbing up walls, always so much to look at and see, such a high energy.

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Why The ‘You’re Too Young To Understand’ Argument Just Doesn’t Stand Up

I have recently encountered, in various different areas of my life, an argument being thrown around by the older generation towards my own age group, that says we are ‘too young’ to be getting  involved in serious political or social issues.  Perhaps it has been one of those things where, once you notice it happening once or twice, you start to see it all over the place.  Regardless, I find so much at fault with this mentality, so many important messages to be taken from it, that it sparked a blog post within me, so here we go!

To give some context, I thought I would talk about a couple of examples of when I have directly faced an argument like this.  The first happened a couple of weeks ago.  I have been planning a concert in London for a while now, with my newly formed, diverse and ‘cutting edge’ ensemble, Hauptstimmen.  The goal of this group of classical chamber musicians is to bring our music to a wider audience, to break down boundaries that we have experienced in our world of classical music and make it an all-inclusive art form, something that everyone can share in and take something away from.  We have organised a concert ourselves in London next week (see all the details here, please come!!), and the theme of our programme is ‘war, time and death’.  I know it sounds a little dark and depressing, but actually it is really fascinating; we are going to be performing unique music that is very rarely heard, including Gideon Klein’s string trio, which was the last piece he ever wrote, just two weeks before being deported to Auschwitz.  It isn’t just going to be a concert – it is going to be a real experience, with cool lighting, sound effects and stage design, where the audience will be encouraged to feel completely at ease with drinks and snacks and also totally engaged with our performance.  In short, this is an event that we have put a lot of thought and work into and one which we think will really create huge impact.

Now, in organising this concert, finding the right venue has obviously been extremely important – the space is paramount to the whole experience, and so it was something we knew we had to get right.  We were overjoyed to find The Red Hedgehog, a cool and intimate venue with easy access in London.  When our group leader met with the venue director, she seemed totally on board and supportive of all of our ideas, so everything looked bright for us.  Two weeks ago, we received an email from this same director and let’s just say that it completely contradicted everything that had been agreed on previously and everything we are striving to achieve.  Her overarching message to us was that we were far too young to be presenting a concert that placed war as its central theme.

My initial response to the email was anger, of course, followed by a real sense of sadness.  I felt so sad because, here is a group of young musicians who are trying to do something different and creative and combine their art with important world issues, only to be shot down by someone older and with more ‘power’.  Today, after having dwelled on it for a while, I feel so strongly the error in her way of thinking!  The fact is that war and death are very much part of our world, and unfortunately this is something that is becoming  more of a scary reality everyday.  To think that only people of a certain age should be talking about it is naive; I am in my twenties and part of a generation that will have to deal with the remnants of what is left post-Trump, or with whatever the future holds for North Korea, Syria, ISIS etc.  We are exactly the ones who need to be talking about it and understanding what is happening and why – we are the ones who can help the future.  As musicians, we have such a special way of sharing these ideas.  Through music, we can reach out to people and bring people together, we can talk about fears of war and death through our playing and use music to make it relevant to everyone, no matter their age.

The second example I wanted to mention was something that I saw on a social platform a few days ago.  A friend of mine had posted an article about veganism – a topic sure to fire anyone up, I know, and of course it did.  But the most offensive response to the article, in my opinion, was from someone from a slightly older generation who advised my friend that she was too young and shouldn’t be concerned with issues like veganism, rather she should just live her life and spend her time ‘dreaming’.  I am just so confused how anyone could suggest that talking about veganism is only for people of a certain age!  What is this age, exactly? Because I am definitely not looking forward to turning this mysterious age when suddenly the weight of the world will be on my shoulders.  And, as my friend pointed out in her reply, isn’t bringing up issues such as veganism on social media exactly what ‘dreaming’ is? Dreaming of a better world, dreaming of what the future could be.  I am not purporting to be an advocate of veganism or not – that is not the point here – only that I certainly think that anyone who wants to talk about veganism, or war, or death or any other huge political or social issue absolutely can and even that we, as young people, should!

And this ‘young’ thing… I mean, I’m 26! I am not exactly a spring chicken.  I have been old enough to vote for a long time, and I have definitely held strong political views for pretty much my whole life.  I am lucky enough to live in a society where I can freely express my views, so who is to tell me, or anyone else in my generation, that I shouldn’t because I am too young?!  In fact, in recent elections, basically all the ones where shit really started to go down, it has been shown that young people really do have a voice and really do know what they are voting for and the consequences of what they are voting for – it’s the older generations that have really screwed things up for us all.

Basically, I want to make it clear that, yes, I am young and yes, that absolutely means I will continue to use my voice and my art to share ideas and fears and issues that I believe in or that I believe are important.  I hope that if young people like me are also facing this ridiculous argument from our elders – that we are too young to be concerned with these important topics – that we can feel inspired to rise above and speak even more loudly.  Age doesn’t equal power, and with our youth comes a responsibility for the future, so let’s engage with each other NOW and make the world a better place.

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