UK-based French violinist Esther Abrami joins us to discuss her self-titled debut album. From classic pieces by Clara Schumann to modern compositions with Alexis Ffrench and movie scores by Rachel Portman, the album is a melting pot of classical music with a contemporary feel.
Hello Esther, welcome back to Close-Up Culture and congratulations on the beautiful debut album. When did you start working on this album and what were your inspirations for it?
Thank you very much! I started working on it a bit more than a year ago actually, it took a while to put it all in place as the recording happened right during the pandemic.
For this very first album I wanted it to represent all my different musical tastes as well as trying to have one piece of music that the different types of audiences who follow me would enjoy. So this is why you can find very different styles of music there, some core classical, some new compositions, some movie soundtracks etc..
As demonstrated in the album, you have a tremendous talent for bringing a contemporary feel to classical music. Can you tell us about the sound of the album and your journey to piece it together?
Thank you! My goal is always to try and make classical music accessible and I think bringing a contemporary feel to it is key for this. I wanted the album to sound as if you are just next to me and not like you would be sitting a bit far away in a concert hall, I hope that came through! We recorded it in a beautiful studio in the middle of nowhere in Germany, if it wasn’t for all the hours we spent playing and recording it nearly felt like a holiday haha!
This album will be a great inspiration to young female musicians and composers. What impact do you hope it has?
I hope firstly that it can make these works more popular, more listened to towards the general public. I also hope it can inspire other musicians to actually start playing these pieces! In my 15 years of music education I have never played a single piece written by a woman as the general violin repertoire that you learn does not include any, it is shocking and I want to change this!
You collaborated with Academy Award winner Rachel Portman on one of the singles. What was it like working with one of the best film composers around?
It was a dream come true, Rachel has been such a big inspiration for me since I am a child! When I was deciding what to record for my album I straight away thought how much I would love to record one of her soundtracks. I thought I would take my chance and send her a dm on Instagram, I was over the moon when she replied positively to my message!
Your collaboration with Rachel Portman made me think: do you have any desire to one day compose a film/s? If so, is there a particular filmmaker you’d love to collaborate with?
It is definitely something I would like to try, when I play I often have images or stories coming through my head so I think being able to compose a music to suit a certain story, emotions, images would be such an enriching experience. As for filmmakers, my two favourites are Tim Burton and Nadine Labaki.
You opened for Katherine Jenkins’ 2021 UK tour. How did you find that incredible opportunity?
It was an incredible experience, it was my first UK tour as such! I was quite nervous before the first concert but after that it was just absolute joy and fun and of course an honour to open for Katherine!
You recently started a YouTube series, titled Women In Classical. You’ve had amazing guests so far, including Shirley Thompson, Rachel Portman and Anna Lapwood. Can you tell us about the series and your hopes for it?
Of course, this is a video series which will soon also be a podcast. It is a place to talk with inspiring women in the classical music world about their unique careers, the challenges that they face as musicians and more particularly as female musicians a well as the insights they’d wish to have known before going into the music industry. All things, which are hardly ever talked about!
This album is adds to your impressive list of achievements at just 25 years old. What’s next for you?
Thank you! Well I just had my solo debut at the Royal Albert Hall which was a huge dream of mine! I always used to walk past it when studying at the Royal College of Music in London and say to myself ‘maybe one day’, never did I think that day would come so soon!