Sunday, March 24, 2019

Alexandra Soumm

Alexandra Soumm is a Russian violinist, teacher, philanthropist, and poet born (in Moscow) on May 17, 1989.  She is one of the best known Russian violinists living (and based) in France and has performed with practically every French orchestra and in every French venue.  When her parents left Russia for France, she was only 2 years old.  As far as I know, her main teacher has been Boris Kuschnir, with whom she studied (according to one very reliable source) for almost fourteen years.  Soumm also frequently participates in music festivals, though mostly in Europe.  She began her violin studies with her father (a violinist) at age 5.  Her first public appearance took place at age 7 in Ukraine with her mother at the piano.  (Her father is Ukrainian and her mother is Russian.)  She entered the Vienna Conservatory, where she began studying with Kuschnir, at age 10.  Two years later, Soumm made her formal debut in Vienna’s Konzerthaus (in 2002) and has been concertizing ever since.  She won the Eurovision Competition in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 2004, at age fourteen.  According to one source, she dropped out of high school when she was 16 years old in order to devote herself to the study of the violin full time and more intensely.  In 2011, Soumm began presenting masterclasses wherever she performed.  She made her U.S. debut in November, 2013, with the Detroit Symphony.  She played the Sibelius concerto - Leonard Slatkin was on the podium.  A few days after that appearance, she made her debut in Chicago, although not with the Chicago Symphony.  She played Mozart’s third concerto with the Illinois Philharmonic.  David Danzmayr was on the podium.  She was 24 years old.  She has twice appeared at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, before an audience of about 20,000 people – August 15, 2014, playing the Tchaikovsky concerto and August 20, 2015 playing the Bernstein Serenade.  Playing for huge audiences is something which violinists of a former generation (including Yehudi Menuhin, Jascha Heifetz, and Bronislaw Huberman) used to do there (at the Hollywood Bowl) and in New York at Lewisohn Stadium with the New York Symphony or the New York Philharmonic.  Soumm is fluent in the German, French, English, Spanish, and Russian languages.  Although her discography is not at all extensive, she has performed in almost every famous venue and with every major orchestra (and conductor) in the world.  Soumm used to play a 1785 (or 1782) G.B. Guadagnini violin but I do not know if she is still playing it.  She has also played a Gioffredo Cappa violin constructed in 1700 (approximately.)  Since 2018, Soumm has been associated with the Musica Mundi music school (and festival) which is based in Belgium.  She has stated that one of the key ingredients for learning to play well is an insatiable curiosity.  A direct (and very interesting) quote from a recent interview follows: “A lot of people just play nicely, but that is not the idea because when Beethoven or Tchaikovsky composed their music, they gave their life to it and so should we.” Here is a YouTube video of a Bach concerto played by Soumm with the Galicia Symphony Orchestra.