One of the characteristics of music that I didn’t understand as a child but that I now love is its abstraction. I find it amazing that each musician has his or her own way to understand music, resulting in very personal interpretations of the same piece which can differ a lot between performers. Taking this idea a step further, it’s not only the musicians who interpret the music their own way, but also the audiences: you can play the very same music to a group of people and each of them will receive it in a different way; in their own way, actually.
Pianist Ana Marco, saxophonist Mirjam Kwebeman and I have developed a performance based on this idea, in which we have used the life-stories of our family members to share part of our background with the audience. The first thing we did was to choose a repertoire that we liked - which turned out to be a bit more complicated than what we thought because our ensemble is not very common - but we finally decided to work on an arrangement of the Suite for Trio by the Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian.
The dark and intimate atmosphere that this music begins with and the fact that the composer was Armenian almost instantly brought the story of my great grandmother to my mind. She was born in the Caucasian country but had to flee to Romania because of the Turkish Genocide. Even if I never met her, a part of me is Armenian, so my grandma and my mum made sure that I knew about her and what she went through. I shared her story with Ana and Mirjam and it reminded them of their own ancestors' background, therefore we thought of using these stories to create an interdisciplinary performance. Having this context completely changed the way we approach the music: suddenly, the piece felt much more personal and close to our heart, as we could connect to it much more deeply.
"My job is to tell the audience what is MY concept of the piece that I'm playing" - Itzhak Perlman
I've experienced such emotional connection with music before, but only when playing solo repertoire (especially Bach). And my god, is it cool when it happens in a group! Besides our own individual energy, we kind of absorb and get a ton of motivation from each other's passion, so it's like a snowball effect. Another thing that also inspires me is to put myself on the skin of the audience and try to imagine what is the effect that our stories have on them and how they're experiencing the music. The combination of all these elements gives me goosebumps and reminds me why I love to play the violin so much.
If some years ago they'd have told me that I'd be homaging my great grandmother with a performance, I wouldn't have believed it. I’ve always been interested in knowing where my family comes from as it is part of my identity, but I never thought of reflecting it through music. I’m glad I can share her story with the audience and give her a voice, because I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her and all that she fought to survive and give her children a better life. So birramona, wherever you are, here's to you!
Come listen us perform!!
🗓️ 27/01/2023, 19:00 - Stadkamer Zwolle
🗓️ 04/02/2023, 14:00 - Academiehuis Zwolle
🗓️ 09/02/2023, 20:00 - ArtEZ Conservatorium Zwolle
🗓️ 17/02/2023, 15:00 - Odeon Zwolle (benefit concert for Turkey and Siria)
In case you missed it, here you can see the video of our performance in Stadkamer the 27th January 2023!