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a2. orchestra director Josh Spirek sat down with our Violin soloist Lisa Smith, who will be performing at our next concert “Triumph & Tragedy”. They spoke about the monumental task of playing a piece once deemed impossible and how to go about "climbing the mountain"

Article No. 7

Lisa will be performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with a2. orchestra at "Triumph & Tragedy" in November. A piece which was once deemed impossible! With such a weight behind the piece, Josh asked Lisa what draws her to such a challenging piece of repertoire. Lisa explained that "What first drew me to Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was how challenging it is. I have never had to learn and memorise a first movement that’s so long, as well as something so musically and technically demanding. My teacher Semra Lee would say playing the movement is like climbing a mountain or running a marathon! On my journey of learning this concerto, I’ve also learned to appreciate and enjoy how emotional and passionate the piece can be, the stories it can tell, and learning the different ways to express and characterise this piece is never ending.

Josh first asked Lisa about the importance of collaboration and communication between a soloist and an orchestra during a performance, and how you work to establish a good rapport with the musicians you are performing with? Lisa Said "I think the most important factor when it comes to the relationship between soloist and orchestra, is having a good sense of unity when playing together. Having a sense of unity between an orchestra and soloist requires good communication between the conductor, orchestra and myself. This could mean listening to feedback from either party on how we can better play together, relaying ideas and interpretations from one another, and respecting and trusting each other. We all have the one goal of putting on a magnificent performance, and that only works when we all work together."

Lisa Smith playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto at the UWA VOSE competition in 2022, where she won the peoples choice award.

Josh asked Lisa how she can balance her own creative expression and interpretation with Tchaikovsky’s intentions when playing his Violin Concerto. Lisa expressed that "Where Tchaikovsky was in his life is extremely valuable when it comes to interpreting this concerto. Tchaikovsky was in the countryside in Switzerland at the time, escaping a failed marriage. He was also depressed and was struggling financially. In this piece, I can hear the sadness Tchaikovsky felt about his marriage, but also his inspiration from the beauty of the Swiss countryside. I try to bring this out as much as I can in his music, using this as the canvas for my ideas."

Finally, Josh asked if there any specific challenges or difficulties Lisa encounters when playing the violin, and how does she work to overcome them. Lisa said that "some challenges I encounter when playing the violin is how to play in tune and produce a consistent and nice tone. These challenges will always remain, but I try to make it easier by doing lots of drone practice, practicing slowly, and by doing technical exercises such as scales and studies. Playing the violin is also an easy way to acquire injuries, as your body is being put in an unnatural position for hours. Figuring out how to prevent injuries such as taking lots of breaks when practicing, and making sure you play with the least amount of tension possible, is a challenge I am yet to overcome. There will always be challenges when playing the violin but when they are overcome or feel easier, that makes it worth it!"

We absolutely look forward to working with Lisa for our next concert “Triumph & Tragedy” on November 23rd. If you’d like to see Lisa perform, tickets are available HERE

Lisa Smith playing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with a2. orchestra at "Triumph & Tragedy"

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