We took five with violinist Priya Mitchell ahead of her performance of Barber’s Violin Concerto at Warwick Hall.
We’re really looking forward to you performing Barber Violin Concerto at Warwick Hall this November. Can you tell us a bit about the piece you are playing and why you are looking forward to playing it?
What a beautiful and unique Concerto it is! Full of exquisite melodies, great nobility and Barber’s own language and style of expression. The last movement is explosive and unrelenting in its virtuosity and drive – exhilarating and wild!
Who introduced you to the violin and how old were you when you started playing?
My Mum thought I needed to learn to concentrate and focus on something challenging. I was a butterfly apparently, full of wonder at everything, and constantly distracted. My Mum worried my favourite pastime was daydreaming!
She had discovered and listened endlessly to old LPs as a child in India. Among others Dinu Lipatti, Fritz Kreisler, Yehudi Menuhin and Arthur Rubinstein were her favourites and Mum wanted me to love music as much as she did. She succeeded and I first had a violin in my hands aged 3.
Who are your violin heroes?
There are so many – it’s impossible to list them all here. There are also people teaching youngsters in the townships or the amazingly dedicated local violin teachers of El Sistema – they are also true heroes and heroines.
Is there an instrument that you don’t play that you wish you did?
Honestly I feel so lucky to play the violin and to have found my instrument that it has never occurred to me to learn anything else.
Besides the violin is all consuming and extremely challenging with a vast repertoire.
It would be great fun to play the triangle in the Lark Ascending or try to learn the Sitar. I imagine playing the Japanese Shakuhachi can be beautifully therapeutic and help calm nerves.
Can you tell us about the origins of your violin?
My violin is the love of my life and I don’t ever wish to play another instrument! It is a Balestrieri born in Mantua, Italy in 1770. Although it does not belong to me I have the honour and privilege to play it; and as it’s such an integral part of me I find it impossible to imagine life without our ongoing relationship in constant dialogue.