Interview: Violinist Esther Abrami On Bringing Classical Music To Young People

Esther Abrami is a French classical violinist who regularly performs at prestigious venues around the world.

With over 300k social media followers, the London-based musician has been at the forefront of making classical music and the violin accessible to younger generations. An effort that has seen Esther impressively bridge cultural gaps through dazzling musical skill and an effortlessly endearing personality.

Esther has upcoming concerts in London (24 May), Paris (25 May), Mexico (9 June) and Vienna (6 July). For more info.

Q: You have done such a wonderful job of making classic music accessible to young audiences across the globe. How special has it been for you to make that connection?

A: Making that connection has been an adventure! Through my musical journey I have seen how much classical music can be a closed up world.

For years I wondered why pieces that I loved where completely unknown by most young people. I heard thousands of times that “young people do not listen to classical music”, “they do not like it”, “they do not come to classical music concerts” and it was sadly not very far from reality.

When social media became popular, I decided to share what I am passionate about: classical music and particularly violin. My idea was new and unexpected for a classical music student, and it was actually seen as something a bit weird by most classical musicians. But let’s be honest, it is fun to break the rules sometimes!

I have now over 300K followers on my channels, 80% of them are under the age of 30. I receive messages every day from young people telling me that I inspired them to start playing the violin and that for me, is a totally priceless reward.

Q: You have a charming and genteel on-camera presence that actually reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. How have you embraced the personality side of your work?

A: Audrey Hepburn is a personality that I love, so thank you!

I have never actually really thought about the personality side of my work, I am literally just staying myself in all situations.

Q: There is a splendid video of you on YouTube that shows your violin progression from age 10 to 20. What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over that period?

A: What matters is not to focus on where we are at the beginning, but to know clearly where we want to go, without ever giving up. This is the biggest and probably the most useful lesson that I have learnt over this period.

Q: If I’m right, your parents are not trained musicians. How has your background shaped you as a musician?

A: My parents are not trained musicians; however, culture has been a very important point in my education. My mum used to read books to me every day and when I was able to read by myself I was absolutely fond of literature and theatre. We used to go to museums to see exhibitions and had long discussions about artists technics and expression, historical contexts etc…

I remember that I couldn’t waste one minute doing nothing because my mum used to say: “there are so many things to see, to listen, to discover and learn”.

I think it is what developed my artistic sense and curiosity over the years.

Q: You were recently involved in a cross-genre live cover of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ which featured a number of other musicians. How did you find that experience and getting out of your musical comfort zone? Is it something you want to do more of in the future?

A: Definitely! Music and art in general is an international language, which becomes even greater by opening your mind and being involved in different artistic experience!

Q: We often see you practicing yoga on social media. How important is it to your performance and well being?

A: Yoga helps me to live the very moment, which is super important in performances. It also helps me to relax and take a break from absolutely everything, mentally and physically.

Q: We got a glimpse of your New Year resolutions on a recent YouTube video. One of those included performing in five countries you’ve never visited before. I saw you already ticked one off with Singapore last month. Can you tell us about that experience and your desire to experience new cultures?

A: I am of an insatiable curiosity, especially about different cultures.

In Singapore I discovered a part of the world totally unknown for me and I had the chance to play with the famous beatboxer Dharni one of the most popular classical piece of Vivaldi: the Four Seasons. It was an unforgettable trip and experience. I am really looking forward coming back in November, with a completely different program.

Q: There are some great videos of you online performing with cats on your lap. Can you talk about your love for cats and the work La Feline Meyreuillaise do?

A: I love animals, and especially cats because they are funny, free and lovely at the same time.

La feline Meyreuillaise is a small French association who rescues abandoned cats from the streets who are usually ill and struggling to survive. When I heard about this association I decided to help giving them visibility and rising awareness to this cause and I am happy that I managed to make the world a bit better for a few cats!

Q: Readers should keep an eye out for your upcoming shows which includes a Recital at the Royal Music College of Music on 24 May. What can audiences expect from your upcoming shows?

A: I am looking forward meeting some of my followers in person every time that I am playing somewhere. I love sharing with them new music pieces, which I always like to introduce and chat about during the recital!

Q: What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?

A: I hope that through my musical journey I will continue to make classical music accessible to everyone. When I say accessible I not only mean accessible to listen, but also accessible to play.

I am the guest of Passeurs d’art in Paris for masterclasses and a concert on the 25th of May. They are an association doing a fantastic job introducing classical music to children and teenagers from deprived areas in France. I am very looking forward meeting and playing with them.

Title image by Mill Media Co.




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