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Valeriy Solokov: The special skill of playing the violin

Jacqueline Vanasse

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Published: July 21, 2014 at 4:06 PM [UTC]

I heard the Ukrainian violinist Valery Solokov in concert only once. It was very long ago, but I remember everything about it. Most of all, I remember his magnificent sound – one of the most beautiful violin sounds I have ever heard since. I remember how stylish and handsome he looked on stage. I remember how accomplished he was with the orchestra; the smiles, the looks of complicity.

Valeriy started the violin in a small middle school in Ukraine. At the time he was also enrolled in ballet school. The two schools were next to each other. For several years the young boy was wondering if he would be playing the violin or dancing ballet. But when he was younger the violinist says that he was kind of chubby so in the end the choice was made by itself. In the Russian and Ukrainian cultures, parents make children study a lot of different subject on a high level in order to develop their abilities. Therefore the violinist studied English, rhythmic, arts, etc. He was good at playing the violin and his violin teacher pushed him, as did his mother. From then on he was almost only playing the violin. Valeriy says he never really had choice of playing or not. He was doing what he had to do. That was what he was doing all day long. Of course he wanted to have fun and be with normal kids instead but he felt the pressure of doing well.

At a relatively early age, the young man left his parents’ home in Ukraine to go study at the Menuhin Music School near London. Leaving his home gave him a kick but again it was also a lot of pressure. “Of course I did all kind of things when I had the freedom out of my parents’ sight but I always felt the pressure from back home,” he remembers. “So I always tried to do well. Plus there was the motivation of wanting to be different. There are many people in Ukraine and in this world and I ought to be different.”

After all Valeriy says he is very happy to be a violinist. “It’s so interesting all the time. I learn how to be a better person everyday in all aspects. Not only on a music training level but also on the personal level. I am not such a media person. I am not interested in showing-off. I am just trying to do my best, playing concerts everywhere, playing with great people. Giving happiness around.”

For him playing the violin is worth it. First of all it’s very difficult to learn but when you have learned it it’s such a special skill to have. “The best with it is that you don’t need to know people’s language to communicate and meet with people, to travel all around the planet and see different places.” By learning how to play the violin you learn a very handy means. By learning how to play the violin you make sure people will accept you wherever you go, people will accept you because of how you do things. “It’s incredible there is almost no other professions that offer you such a lucky way of doing thing, that offer you a passkey to people,” adds the young man. Of course you have to be good in what you are doing and you have to have something to say. With music if you want to do it well you have to be perfect. Daily practice is not doing all the tricks to stay at the top, reminds the violinist. You also have to attempt to be up-to-date with everything that is going on around. “I feel a little too small to answer the question whether it worth playing the violin or not but what I am sure of is that it’s very important to do something that you are very good at.”

The violinist especially loves playing the 20th century repertoire because it’s a language close to ours. It’s fresh, contemporary; it feels like it’s simply telling about us. That said, the young man is also interested in understanding and playing very well the classical repertoire; the great Schubert Sonatas and Beethoven and Mozart Sonatas. “Contemporary music, baroque music; you play what you like. If you like to play contemporary music please do. If you play this music just to be fashionable, to please a certain type of people and be famous, that‘s another reason. We can’t condemn it, it depends on what you are looking for.”

You have to be true to yourself, find you own ways and enjoy the process, believes Valeriy. “Competitions, for instance, are very important but not so much for the result. Competitions are very important because they make you play better.” The next season will be very busy for the violinist. For next, the violinist just hope to keep playing as well as he can. In fact with music you never know what is going to happen, so you better do the best you can, take the opportunity and enjoy the moment.

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