Strad Magazine

Young Players

At 21, russian-born violinist Alexandra Soumm is already much in demand, with concerto performances in the coming months scheduled with major orchestras in Moscow, Tokyo, Paris and Israel, in addition to commitments in the UK as one of the latest recruits to the BBC’s New Generation scheme. But, perhaps mindful of recent tales of burnout, she is pacing herself carefully.

‘The most important thing for me is not to play too many concerts,’ she says. ‘Forty or fifty a year is the maximum, because I need time to think, to walk, to be with my family and friends. I need to grow as a musician and have time to think about the music I’m playing.’

Soumm has been with her teacher, Boris Kuschnir, for eleven years: ‘It’s never boring because every lesson is different. We work a lot on the sound and on interpretation, and we are always experimenting. He’ll film me in concert and then we’ll sit down and analyse everything, deciding what we can do better, what’s good.’

As well as artistic integrity, she also has a winning youthful idealism. ‘We need to bring classical music to people who’ve never heard it,’ she argues. ‘I think the answer is to take it into schools, not just for three minutes, but to get across why we play and why we’re doing this job, and to bring joy to people. I think that’s the main goal, at least for me. I don’t want to be 80 and think yes, I played in great halls with great orchestras, and that’s it – I think there’s so much more to do. We have to do it!’

Matthew Rye, The Strad – January 2011