Young Artist Interview: Violinist Emma Arizza on her roots, repertoire and musical relationships

Award-winning violinist, Emma Arizza, holds a prestigious Musicians’ Company Award 2019. Regularly performing as a soloist and in ensembles across Europe, and in masterclasses around the world, Emma currently studies with celebrated violinist, Mayumi Fujikawa, on a Gladys Bratton Scholarship for Master studies at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

What attracted you to the violin?

Emily: The violin is just like me. I began playing in my hometown, Lake Como in Italy, when I was six years old. At the time I was also doing ballet in the town’s theatre, but eventually the violin took priority! I fell in love with the violin because I found a similarity between myself and the instrument. As a little girl, I was very small and fragile-looking, but inside I was strong and determined!

Tell us about a standout concert

Emma: December in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. I have so many beautiful memories of performing on stage and sharing some crazy adventures with wonderful musicians. One experience that stands out is of a performance I gave in Israel. I had the enormous privilege of playing the Mozart Concerto in G major accompanied by the amazing YMEO orchestra and conductor Paolo Olmi; we performed it in Bethlehem Church of the Nativity and Jerusalem Notre Dame Chapel. The rehearsals and concerts were always in the evening so during the day we would explore the two beautiful cities. Being surrounded by such history and performing in such sacred places is something I will never forget. As a Christian, I found the music especially magical during those concerts, and the atmosphere truly unique.

How would you define your playing style?

Emma: Free style. My style has often been described as unique, free, expressive and very personal. I have also been told that I look like a different person when I perform, very intense and concentrated…when in real life I am always smiling! I do not follow a particular violin school, other than the Russian one (its influence, though, is very much restricted to the technique) and I like to think that musically speaking I am influenced much more by my personal life and musical journey. My interpretation is often dictated by what I believe the music is trying to tell me. As one of my teachers used to repeat, my main goal as an artist is to make others experience the composer’s message and the particular feeling, atmosphere of a piece.

What is your favourite violin repertoire?

Emma: Looking at the past. My favourite repertoire is anything that I feel a strong connection with. Some of these pieces are the ones I started learning early on, when I was little, which remind me of the joy of discovering the violin and the magical world of music. Pieces that I can play with my eyes closed, not thinking or worrying about anything, and just enjoy the sound that comes out of the violin … yes, those are my favourite pieces! I love the great violin concertos by Bruch, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Beethoven and in general the romantic repertoire. I also have great admiration for Jascha Hefeitz and his performances of light, enjoyable “encore pieces” and own transcriptions. That is why I love learning short “salon” pieces and transcriptions myself, I think this reflects my nature as quite a “nostalgic” violinist and person!

Do your Italian roots influence your playing?

Emma: Italy and inspirations. I am a true Italian musician and proud to be an ambassador for a country with such history and culture. Being a musician allows me to express my Italian side through music, but not only when I play Italian compositions. Many great composers came to Italy to visit, study and meet other musicians, and to write their works there, inspired by the beautiful landscapes, great art and architecture. I grew up in a very beautiful place surrounded by mountains and breathtaking views (Lake Como!) and feel lucky to have been inspired by the same beauty as many of the great composers!

Who have you most enjoyed sharing the stage with?

Emma: It’s all about good relationships! I enjoy working with different musicians, but many special memories I have are connected with performing with friends and family. For many years I have played in a piano trio with my two sisters and recently started performing with my boyfriend, Stefano. We performed for the very first time together in November at the Royal Albert Hall, in the middle of a tennis court! We were playing just for fun in our living room up to that moment…it was a true debut!

I think it is crucial to have a connection of some sort with the musicians you are sharing the stage with. It makes all the difference. A concert can be an occasion of discovering musical details together, discussing the different interpretations and having fun sharing travelling and dinners together!

What’s in your diary for the rest of the year?

Emma: Busy for the rest of the year… This month I will be giving a workshop sponsored by the Musicians’ Company in a school in Islington, then performing for the Trinity Laban String Showcase at Wigmore Hall. In April I have other performances and will be busy preparing a very special concert that includes rarely performed pieces by J. Sibelius. The concert will be on 10 May at the Burg House in Hampstead with the support of the UK Sibelius Society. It will then be exams period and concerts in London and Italy, then in July, the gorgeous Beethoven Concerto with the Wyatt Sinfonia back in London… Of course, I forgot to mention, deadlines, school essays, teaching and practising on top of that!

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