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LGT Young Soloists: passion, ambition and adaptation

23 October 2020
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Daniele Muscionico and Alexander Gilman, guest authors

The LGT Young Soloists are a unique string ensemble made up of highly gifted young musicians aged between 14 and 24. The soloists come together from 15 different countries, selected to perform with their peers in an orchestral setting in some of the greatest concert halls around the world. Here, Daniele Muscionico speaks to three members of the LGT Young Soloists about their passion and ambition, and Alexander Gilman outlines how the LGT Young Soloists have adapted to perform virtually.

Daniele Muscionico: I imagine that you wouldn’t have got where you are in the music world today if you weren’t ambitious. But how did this ambition come about?

Sophie Bundschuh: I grew up as the youngest of four siblings. Perhaps in a case like mine, ambition is a survival mechanism. I grew up in a family that practised competitive sports at a high level, and that will certainly have influenced me too. But I think it’s more your personality that’s the determining factor. I’m a perfectionist and I push myself.

Emilia von Albertini: I used to push myself when I was still just a kid, and I noticed that I was somewhat more ambitious than those around me.

What exactly do you mean by “pushed”? 

Bundschuh: I always wanted to be very independent. The same is true today. It’s my parents and siblings who put their foot on the brakes and sometimes tell me I don’t need to work so hard.

Leo Esselson: My career in music began when my parents tried to get me to take part in different activities, both in sports and in music. It was my mother and father who got me to love music, and now I have to say I’m very grateful to them for it.

Von Albertini: For me, pushing myself means I realised when still a kid that I can improve myself. That applies to my music – playing the violin – and to other areas too. So I practised more and worked harder, regardless of whether it was for school or outside it. My ambition runs through all aspects of my life.

How important have role models been for you?

Esselson: My mother used to play the piano and if it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have come to music. Later, of course, I had role models such as my violin teachers. And a great soloist was always at the back of my mind because I’d seen him play live: that was Maxim Vengerov. I heard him play for the first-ever time when I was 5 or 6 years old. Wow! He was a superstar!

Von Albertini: It was also Maxim Vengerov for me! But another role model of mine was Anne-Sophie Mutter. I first heard her when I was eight, and from that moment onward I wanted to practice more.

Bundschuh: Anne-Sophie Mutter also fired my ambition. It was an early recording of hers. When our family used to drive to Italy, there was a really beautiful stretch of road through the mountains. Whenever we drove along it, we’d always listen to this recording in the car. The music suited the landscape perfectly, and it had an incredible impact on me.

Is there a price to be paid for ambition in your lives? Does it mean a sacrifice of some kind?

Esselson: Coping with both music and school is something I had to learn. Practising three or four hours besides going to high school is something to which you’ve got to adapt. You get home, eat something, practice, do some homework for school – and then it’s already evening. What’s important is being productive. Practising productively. That means practising only as long as you can concentrate properly. They say that after five hours your brain isn’t fresh anymore.

Bundschuh: It all boils down to time management! If you want, you’ll always find time for what’s important to you.

Adapting to change

Over the past several months, a lot has changed for the LGT Young Soloists. Whilst usually they travel the world to play in concert halls in front of large audiences, now they are not even able to rehearse together in the same room.

Instead, they have had to adapt to an entirely home-based environment. They have used the time productively, learning many new pieces. Thanks to the wonders of technology, their music is still finding its way into the world. In recent months, the young talents have come together virtually to record a number of pieces. Artistic Director Alexander Gilman has worked hard with each individual musician to ensure a seamless arrangement.

We are delighted to share with you now Ennio Morricone's "Cinema Paradiso."

This article uses extracts from a MAG/NET article, as well as insights from Alexander Gilman.

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