Posted by StringOvation Team on Feb 15, 2018
Inspiration can be found far and wide on YouTube. Sometimes once you start looking, you can spend hours discovering amazing talent from all over the globe. The editors of StringOvation have listed six international violinists of whom you may not have heard, but will want to get to know! Their talents range from the comical to heavy metal on the violin – not to mention stories of fortitude and perseverance. They are all forging careers in new genres of violin music. Check them out!
1. David Garrett
German violinist David Garrett is a sensation in Europe. Not only does he have charm by the bucketful, but he exudes sheer joy onstage when he’s playing…and he literally rocks! Garret has a successful career not only as a classical violinist but also as a crossover artist in the pop genre. He loves rock and roll – check out his version of Led Zepplin’s Kashmir, or his rock rendition of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. A child prodigy, Garrett attended Juilliard, studied with Itzak Perlman, and received high praise from Zubin Mehta. Signed with Decca records, he has released several albums. Although he is extremely popular in Europe, unfortunately for us, he has no US tour dates for 2018. We did find this gem of him performing a flash mob of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal in a New York City eatery in 2011. Garrett’s artistic path is a determination to introduce the masterpieces of the classical genre to a mass audience, using the popularity of his crossover programs. Here’s a beautiful example of a Carmen crossover.
Keep your eyes open for him…he’s a force! Check out his December 2017 performance with the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai of Csárdás by Vittorio Monti
Beauty and talent collide with 26-year-old Japanese violinist Ayasa. Her popular website blog is titled “No Violin, No Happiness.” She has an official fan club page, millions of views on YouTube, and can often be seen having way too much fun dressing-up as animé characters for some of her videos! Ayasa started playing the violin at age three and received recognition through several competitions at an early age. She has forged a rich career in pop violin music that transcends several genres. She released the album Chronicle in 2015, which was such a huge success that Chronicle II, III, and IV were released in the same year, going on to win the Best Album award in Japan. Chronicle V was recently released in January of 2018.
Watch this awesome performance with her rock band from early 2017.
3. TwoSet Violin
Meet Brett Yang and Eddy Chen— two Asian-Australian musicians known as TwoSet Violin, with the tag line, “classical comedy.” They first went viral with their funny and painfully accurate videos depicting life as a classical musician. With over 300,000 followers on social media and over 70 million views worldwide, they self-describe as “inspiring young musicians with humor and a relatable ‘imperfectness.’” Despite what they say, they are amazing violinists, with sold-out, unique, live performances throughout Europe and Asia. And you have to love that they funded their tour on Kickstarter! They are inspiring for many reasons…but we give them points for the most imaginative way to create a violin career. You must catch one of their hilarious YouTube videos – such as this one where they judge a young prodigy or their video When You Realise You Have ZERO Talent. You’ll be splitting your sides with laughter in the video below, "How to Play Like Joshua Bell in 4 Steps." Catch them streaming live every Tuesday on Facebook.
4. Damien Escobar
American violinist and internet sensation Damien Escobar is inspiring all on his own, not to mention the beautiful music he plays. According to his website, in 2013 Damien was homeless and depressed, fighting through his fear of failure only to “reemerge as a confident, positive, thriving artist.” Today, swept up in a media storm, he is truly a story of triumph, from looking back on his days playing the violin on subway platforms in New York to playing for presidents in the White House. Damien is involved in a plethora of entrepreneurial endeavors including writing a children’s book, “The Sound of Strings,” a signature line of violins, and a nonprofit organization focused on children’s music programs, among others. Watch Damien’s haunting rendition of "Awaken," below.
5. Sirena Huang
Taiwanese-American violinist Sirena Huang started taking violin lessons at age four and made her professional solo debut at nine with the Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. At age 11, she gave an unforgettable, as well as a technically and emotionally nuanced performance at a 2006 TED Talk. She has won many top international competitions, thrilling audiences worldwide with her virtuosity. "Her musical imagination is boundless," said Juilliard Dean Stephen Clapp, who described her as "a musical artist with qualities of maturity far beyond her age." Today, Sirena is 23 years old and still winning competitions left and right. She recently received First Prize in the 2017 Oliveira Competition. Below is the performance that won her that coveted prize, performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with conductor Guillermo Figueroa and the Lynn Philharmonia. She is a violinist to watch!
6. Ayako Ishikawa
Acclaimed Japanese violinist Ayako Ishikawa has performed sold-out concerts and recorded multiple albums. But she doesn't just play classical music. She's dazzling music enthusiasts everywhere with her versions of pop tunes, video game, animé theme songs, and even vocaloid music (software synthesized "singing").
Ayako began playing the violin at the age of four in Tokyo, and moved to London at age five. She was the youngest ever to pass the audition to enter the prestigious Purcell School of Music in London. At 15, she moved to Australia, where she was awarded a Merit Scholarship to the University of Sydney, Conservatorium of Music. Ayako won the National Overall Instrumental Winner's Competition, and was given the honorary title of "Best Performer in Australia.” Today, she is a violin virtuoso, giving sold-out recitals and concerts in such countries such as UK, Singapore, Russia, China, Vietnam, New Zealand, Philippines, Germany, Hungary, Australia, and Japan. America, keep your eye out for her! Check out her video, "Tokyo Ghoul – Unravel," that has received close to 2 million views
Top photo of David Garrett by Christoph Kstlin, courtesy of www.weigold-boehm.de