Where there’s a will, there’s a way – Your Music Supply gives every child the opportunity to learn an instrument

violin rentals
Young violin players practice for a concert. Photograph: Amadeus Foundation

By Mariza Brussolo

Accomplished violinist Laura Mozena has been a violin teacher for over 10 years. Throughout her professional life she has witnessed the struggle some parents have gone through trying to buy their children a violin so they can take music lessons.

violin rentals
Violinist Laura Mozena Photo By Mariza Brussolo

 

Laura is the Vice President of Your Music Supply and her primary goal is to help children in any way she can to make it possible for them to learn a musical instrument. Through the online store Your Music Supply, she’s able to bring high quality instruments to the public at a low cost.

She offers many violins for sale at affordable prices. Besides these low prices, Laura wanted to do even more to help students and their parents. Laura came up with the perfect rental program, something that was easy and affordable enough so that every child could learn how to play the violin.

“I grew up playing the violin and learning this instrument has brought me so much joy and has helped raise my self-esteem. When a child learns how to play an instrument his self image grows as he realizes that he can create beautiful music,” said Ms. Mozena.

There are children who would love to learn how to play an instrument, but because violins can be expensive, this prevents some parents from being able to give their children this opportunity. This creates a ripple effect, parents feel guilty about not being able to give their children the gift of music, and the children are sad because their dream of playing the violin is not possible.

“I knew there had to be a way to help these families. This is how I came up with the idea of a rental program that was affordable for everyone. Your Music Supply made the investment of buying several violins to have them available for rent and found a way to only require a minimal fee ($20) per month. I thought it was a good idea, but when I actually told the parents about this rental program, I was amazed at their response. The parents were thrilled! More and more parents are now able to give their children the opportunity to learn the violin,” said Ms. Mozena.

Children from all backgrounds can now learn how to play the violin without having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars upfront. And if $20 per month didn’t sound low enough, Laura is offering a discount for a limited time; parents can now pay only $15 per month and take a violin home for their children.

Some of the benefits of renting are:

– Besides the monthly fee, there are no other additional fees

– Every payment goes toward owning the violin outfit

– Parents can switch out sizes anytime as the child grows

– The violin includes the case and the bow

– Maintenance and repair is included in the monthly fee

violin rental

“Renting a violin has been the greatest thing for us because children grow up so fast, Laura is so accommodating and allows us to switch to a larger violin and every one of our payments goes toward owning it. The renting program has actually worked very well for us. We wouldn’t be able to give our daughter the chance to learn the violin if it wasn’t for this rental program,” expressed Susan M. (Suzuki Mom)

Renting a violin from Your Music Supply is done by visiting the YMS Rental Page and filling out the contract.

“It brings me so much joy to know that more children are having the chance to learn how to play the violin,” concluded Laura.

Your Music Supply is a musical instrument store currently offering a promotion for their violin rentals. Parents pay only $15 per month when they sign up during the month of March of 2014. Call 800-761-2585 or email at info@yourmusicsupply.com to sign up for this rental program.

Violinist Vanessa-Mae makes her Olympic debut at Sochi in women’s giant slalom

She was only the third person to compete for Thailand in the history of the Games, finishing more than 50 seconds adrift of Slovenian winner Tina Maze

By Rob Maul

Violinist Vanessa-Mae makes her Olympic debut at Sochi in women’s giant slalom

Vanessa-Mae has added another string to her bow – skiing at the Winter Olympics .

The classical violinist, a British citizen, finished 67th in the women’s giant slalom – the last of the finishers to compete two runs down the rain-hit course.

Mae, 35, said: “With my limited experience at my age – I only started training six months ago – I’m just glad I made it down.

“The experience of being here is amazing.

“You’ve got the elite skiers of the world and then you’ve got some mad old woman like me trying to make it down.”

Finishing more than 50 seconds adrift of Slovenian winner Tina Maze, she almost crashed several times and got lost down the course.

Mae said: “It was rock and roll at times – I nearly crashed out three times – but I’m happy.

“I grew up in London so I’m afraid I brought the weather with me.

“It was cool. I was just happy I didn’t get lost, because this was my first two-gates and I thought I was going to go the wrong side.

“But I made it down.”

Asked about the possibility of injuring her arms, she replied: “You can insure yourself up to your eyeballs, but if you don’t take risks, what’s the point?

Vanessa Mae

“You have to enjoy life.”

Vanessa-Mae has sold more than 10m records worldwide and is worth about £30m.

The 35-year-old, who was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother and Thai father, was brought up in England but now lives in the Swiss Alpine resort of Zermatt.

She competed for Thailand, only the third person to do so in the 90-year history of the Winter Games.

The world-famous musician has been skiing since she was four years old but was the lowest-ranked racer in the field – at 2,253rd – having just scraped through qualifying a month ago.

She has trained with the Russian team in Australia over the past year, flying to as many competitions as possible to secure the necessary qualifying points.

She said: “This is the Olympic spirit and to be just a small part of it for a few days is special.

“I am shy and I sort of shuffle around the canteen looking at all these amazing skiers and they are really friendly.

“They sidle up to you and say ‘hi’ and we talk about music and sport.

“There is no pressure, only really good spirit. If you do everything when you’re young you leave no fun until the end.”

Vanessa-Mae was taught to ski thanks to private lessons paid for by her mother Pamela but once she showed her talent in music, she was banned from hitting the slopes in case of injury.

She says that her estranged mum and former manager did not bother to contact her when she qualified for the Sochi Games.

On the eve of the Games, said: “There are moments, such as Olympic moments, when you bury your differences.

“But that hasn’t happened to us.”

Instead, she appeared on the official start sheets as Vanessa Vanakorn – competing under her father’s surname.

She said: “I have many, many different cultures in my life but one that I have never kind of celebrated before was my Thai side.

“Vanakorn is my name when skiing.

“It’s really fun because I celebrated the British side, I was born in Singapore but it’s the first time I get to enjoy the Thai side here.”

Vanessa Mae announces rare concert - May 12th

Amazon’s TV Pilot ‘Mozart in the Jungle,’ with Joshua Bell and Malcolm McDowell, Is a Tale of Sex, Drugs and…Classical Music?

Amazon’s TV Pilot ‘Mozart in the Jungle,’ with Joshua Bell and Malcolm McDowell, Is a Tale of Sex, Drugs and…Classical Music?

Amazon’s TV Pilot ‘Mozart in the Jungle,’ with Joshua Bell and Malcolm McDowell, Is a Tale of Sex, Drugs and…Classical Music?

Amazon Studios’ ‘Mozart in the Jungle’ pilot was inspired by professional oboist Blair Tindall’s 2005 book of the same name. (Photo : Creative Commons)

Amazon Studios recently filmed a pilot episode of Mozart in the Jungle, a proposed web video series that looks beyond classical music’s image of polished perfection to reveal behind-the-scenes stories full of sex, drama and political infighting.

Violinist Joshua Bell makes a cameo appearance in this pilot episode, playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. Other notable cast members include Malcolm McDowell of Clockwork Orange fame, who plays a conductor in this episode, and singer Bernadette Peters.

The pilot was inspired by Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, oboist Blair Tindall’s 2005 memoir of her professional career in New York, playing numerous high-profile gigs with ensembles including the New York Philharmonic and the orchestras of Broadway shows.

Tindall’s book is a story of the insanely competitive freelance scene in New York in the 1980s and 90s, where too many musicians compete for too few jobs, most of which offer no health insurance or job security. Tindall describes musicians who trade sex and drugs for more lucrative gigs, the possibility of winning a permanent spot in a major symphony orchestra or a rare solo recording contract.

Amazon’s pilot, created by Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola and Alex Timbers, focuses on two characters at very different points in their careers: a young oboist, played by Lola Kirke, on the verge of professional success in New York; and an older, established conductor (McDowell) whose career is threatened by a younger, good-looking rival. (Corinne Ramey of the Wall Street Journal points out that this younger conductor, played by Gael García Bernal, bears a passing resemblance to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Gustavo Dudamel.)

“It’s an excellent and fun cast,” said Paul Weitz, the pilot’s director and executive producer. “They all enjoyed stepping through the looking glass into characters who are obsessed with a very different discipline.”

The pilot, recently filmed in Manhattan and Purchase, N.Y., will debut on Prime Instant Video in early 2014. When a pilot is released online, visitors are invited to watch, provide feedback and help determine which pilots should be produced as series to air exclusively on Prime Instant Video and Amazon’s LOVEFiLM in the UK.

About the Author

Joshua Bell appears in the pilot episode Mozart In The Jungle

 

 

$5M Stradivarius violin recovered in Milwaukee, mayor says

Stradivarius violin

In this undated photo provided by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is the 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was stolen from MSO concertmaster Frank Almond. (AP/Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra)

$5M Stradivarius violin recovered in Milwaukee, mayor says

Associated Press

MILWAUKEE –  The mystery of what happened to a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius violin stolen in a stun gun attack was answered Thursday when Milwaukee police recovered the instrument and blamed the heist at least in part on an art thief who once stole a statue from a gallery and then tried to sell it back.

The violin, which was built in 1715 by the renowned Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari and valued at $5 million, was found hidden in a suitcase in the attic of a man who police said was unaware the instrument was in his home.

Three people have been arrested in the case, and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said there was no evidence of other “shadowy” figures from the art world behind the theft.

“It appears we had a local criminal who had an interest in art theft and was smart enough to develop a plan for a robbery,” Flynn said. “Beyond that, we don’t know what his motive was.”

The violin, which police said appeared to be in good condition, was stolen late last month from a concert violinist who was shocked with a stun gun. His attacker grabbed the violin and hopped into a waiting vehicle.

Police traced the stun gun to Universal Knowledge Allah, a 36-year-old barber, while a citizen’s tip led them to Salah Jones, the 41-year-old man convicted of stealing a $25,000 statue from a gallery at Milwaukee’s posh Pfister Hotel in 1995. Officers had the men under surveillance before arresting them Monday, along with a 32-year-old woman police have not yet identified.

Police also have not said what role each suspect had in the heist.

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm said Thursday that he expected to charge at least one of the suspects Friday. He said charges were delayed while prosecutors negotiated with one suspect for the return of the violin.

The suspect led police Wednesday night to the home of an acquaintance, who had allowed the suspect to store a suitcase in his attic.

It’s not clear what the suspects planned to do with the violin. Such high-value instruments are almost always well-documented with photographs and easily identified, said David Bonsey, a New York-based violin maker and appraiser who appears on the Public Broadcasting Service’s “Antiques Roadshow.”

“There’s virtually no place that a violin like this can be taken and fenced,” Bonsey said. “You can’t take it to a pawn shop.”

Some art collectors will buy stolen objects that they keep hidden for their own enjoyment, Bonsey said. But Flynn said there was no indication in this case of “shadowy figures in the art world that were trying to purchase this” violin.

The violin, known in musical circles as the “Lipinski” Stradivarius because it was once played by Polish violinist Karol Lipinski, has been appraised for insurance purposes at $5 million.

It has value as a musical instrument and as a work of art, Bonsey said.

The violin is “part of a body of work from someone whose work just cannot be imitated,” he said. “A lot of people do sculptures, but there’s only one Michelangelo and there’ll never be another one. There’s never going to be another Stradivarius.”

Experts estimate 600 to 650 Stradivarius instruments remain — about half of what the master produced.

One of the most famous is the Gibson Strad, now owned by virtuoso Joshua Bell. It was stolen from Carnegie Hall in 1936 and not found until the violinist who stole it died in the 1980s.

FBI special agent David Bass, an expert in art crime, said Stradivarius thefts are reported every few years but most instruments are found — some quickly and in good condition.

A Stradivarius stolen from a South Korean musician in 2010 while she ate at a London sandwich shop was found about three years later at a property in central England. Three people were convicted in that theft.

The Lipinski Stradivarius was taken from Frank Almond, concertmaster for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, as he walked to his car after a Jan. 27 performance at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Mark Niehaus, the orchestra’s president and executive director, said the instrument appeared in good shape, but Almond, who also teaches music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., was out of town and still needed to inspect it.

The violin was on loan to Almond by its owner. Such arrangements are common in classical music in part because most artists can’t afford instruments worth millions of dollars. The owners benefit as well because use keeps the instruments in good shape and can add to their value.

“When famous people play these instruments it builds what we call the instrument’s provenance,” Bonsey said. “It adds to the value of the instrument down the road.”

Mystery Surrounds Theft of Stradivarius Violin

Franz Sandner Violin - Strad Model

MILWAUKEE February 5, 2014 (AP) By DINESH RAMDE Associated Press

Violin virtuoso Frank Almond was walking to his car after an evening performance at the Wisconsin Lutheran College when someone jumped out of a van, shocked him with a stun gun and seized the rare and extremely valuable Stradivarius on loan to him.

The robber got back into the waiting vehicle, which sped off.

Almond, who’d been knocked to the ground, wasn’t seriously hurt. But he was devastated by the loss of the violin, which was crafted in 1715 and has been appraised for insurance purposes at $5 million.

The brazen Jan. 27 crime set off a frantic search and raised questions about why someone would steal an item that would be nearly impossible to sell. Would-be buyers in the tiny market for rare violins would certainly know it was stolen, and keeping it in hiding would mean never getting to show it off.

The case in which Almond kept the instrument was found, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announced someone was offering $100,000 for the instrument’s safe return. But there weren’t any breaks in the robbery until this week, when prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that three people had been arrested in connection with the theft.

Kent Lovern, a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney, said he couldn’t reveal any information beyond the arrests. He said he didn’t expect a charging decision would be made before Thursday.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the violin had been recovered. Police would say only that the investigation was ongoing.

The violin is known in musical circles as the “Lipinski” Stradivarius. Its previous owners include virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini, who was known for his “Devil’s Trill” Sonata, and Polish violinist Karol Lipinski.

It was passed down through generations, eventually landing with the heirs of Estonian violinist Evi Liivak, according to Stefan Hersh a Chicago-based violin curator who helped restore it to playing condition after it was removed from storage in a bank vault in 2008. The current owner’s name has not been revealed publicly.

Hersh, a friend of Almond’s, said he used to watch how carefully Almond would care for the violin. While some musicians see their instruments as objects or tools, Almond understood the historical significance of the Lipinski, Hersh said.

“He had a special case made for it, he kept it highly protected in his car, he never let it out of his sight,” Hersh said. “As a performer nothing shakes him, but after the theft he was highly shaken. I’ve never known him like that.”

A message left for Almond through the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday. Police have asked that he not speak to the media while the investigation was going on.

Hersh said Almond had scars on his wrist and chest from the stun gun but otherwise wasn’t seriously hurt.

Hersh said he couldn’t sleep after he heard about the theft. He was worried the violin would be damaged, but the more he thought about it the more he suspected the thieves would take pains to protect their spoils.

“You’d have to think someone who thought this through with such meticulous planning would take good care of it,” he said.

Estimates vary for the number of Stradivarius violins that still exist, said Lisbeth Butler, the secretary of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. Most experts believe that 600 to 650 remain, she said.

———

Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde@ap.org.

Stolen Stradivarius violin owner relieved Frank Almond not badly hurt

Frank Almond plays the Lipinski Stradivarius in 2008.

Alison Sherwood Frank Almond plays the Lipinski Stradivarius in 2008

Stolen Stradivarius violin’s owner relieved Frank Almond not badly hurt

The owner of a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin stolen from Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond during an armed robbery last week has released a statement expressing relief that Almond was not permanently injured in the attack.

Almond posted the owner’s statement in his Non Divisi column online at her request.

“Due to my devastation at the attack on you, Frank, and the theft of the violin, I feel compelled to write this,” the owner writes. “First, I’m so happy that you are safe.”

“Frank, I could never have guessed that after all you have done, you would be physically attacked. I’m so sorry.”

Almond was mugged in the parking lot at Wisconsin Lutheran College Jan. 27 after performing a Frankly Music concert. The robber attacked Almond with a stun gun and fled with the instrument.

The violin is known as the Lipinski Strad in reference to a former owner, the great Polish violinist Karol Lipinski. It was crafted in 1715 in Cremona, Italy. During a news conference following the robbery, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn called the rare violin “priceless” and characterized its value as in the “high seven figures.”

A $100,000 rewardhas been offered for information that results in the safe return of the violin.

Since Almond began playing the Lipinski Strad publicly in 2008, the owner has requested anonymity, though she signs her note “Char.” She describes herself as “just a person who loved her family violin with all its memories and three hundred years of history more than the many opportunities to sell it. My heart is broken.”

She thanks Almond for the public stewardship of the instrument:

“As a non-violinist, non-public figure, it has felt more natural to me to remain relatively anonymous. Not expecting the violin to participate in this tendency, I had the good fortune to find Frank to take loving care of it every day and to use his musicality and virtuosity to express his vision with its glorious voice. That he was concertmaster of the MSO was especially appropriate, as another goal was to give Milwaukee the gift of being able to hear the violin frequently. He has also acted as its human face and voice, giving interviews exploring his thoughts and feelings on getting to know this violin. He has put remarkable effort, talent and enthusiasm into making the first modern recordings of the Lipinski.”

Several of Almond’s friends, including MSO president Mark Niehaus, have described the violinist as very cautious about the security of the Lipinski Strad.

The owner also expressed gratitude to the Milwaukee Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, and to the MSO itself, and appealed to anyone who knows anything about the robbery to come forward.

Anyone with information on the violin or the robbery is asked to call Milwaukee police at (414) 935-7360. People who wish to remain anonymous can call the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at (414) 226-7838.

Vadim Repin, violinist – portrait of the artist

Vadim Repin

‘The violin came to me by chance’ … Vadim Repin. Photograph: Harald Hoffman

Vadim Repin, violinist – portrait of the artist

Violinist Vadim Repin talks about giving his first concert aged nine, how special things happen on stage – and why he’s promiscuous with his artistic affections

Interview by The Guardian,

What got you started?

Asking my mother for music toys when I was three. She bought me a little accordion and a flute, and I concentrated on making as much noise as possible. But the violin came to me by chance: when I was five, she took me to a music school to study the accordion, but the only place left was on the violin course. So the violin became my favourite toy.

What was your big breakthrough?

The first concert I gave, aged nine. I’d started studying with my first teacher, Zakhar Bron (1), when I was seven. His method was to have his students perform on stage, in front of other people, as soon as possible. I was still a child, but I began to think of myself as a musician.

Is it important to get children interested in classical music from such a young age?

Absolutely. You don’t need to set them career goals: the experience of playing classical music is a broad one. Like anything beautiful, it should be in the arsenal of education.

Your wife (2) is a ballerina. Does watching her dance influence your understanding of your own art form?

I believe music and movement are very much connected. Last year, we performed together for the first time, at a festival in Switzerland. It was a very special experience to create a dialogue not with a musician, but with somebody telling a story through movement. Both music and dance are about storytelling, really.

Do you suffer for your art?

Yes – and it doesn’t get any easier. I’m constantly thinking about whatever piece of music I’m performing, day and night. I never switch off.

Which artists do you most admire?

I love everything, but am particularly interested in architecture. Classical music is founded, really, on creating an architectural structure with sound. Pieces are very logical, governed by strict rules.

What work of art would you like to own?

I don’t really believe in owning art: it’s like owning a person. But for me, the greatest work of art is the violin, so the fact I’m able to play one of the most beautiful Guarneri violins on the planet (3) is overwhelming. I don’t own it, but it’s enough to just have the chance to play it and look at it.

Is there an art form you don’t relate to?

I haven’t yet met an art form I wasn’t attracted to. I even consider chess an art form. I do play, though I’m not very good. One of my oldest friends, Vladimir Kramnik, is a world champion (4).

What piece of music would work as the soundtrack to your life?

Brahms’s first violin sonata. It’s as if it was dictated by God.

What’s the biggest myth about being a violinist?

That we have some kind of special, innate charisma. Special things do happen on stage, but that’s usually the product of a particular concert and a particular moment. Recently, I played a concert in Paris with Ashkenazy (5). It felt like time had stopped. For 35 minutes, it was as if nobody in the room dared to breathe.

• Vadim Repin performs with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham, on 22 February, and the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 24 February.

In short

Born: Novosibirsk, Siberia, 1971.

Career: Has performed with many of the world’s greatest orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra, and released several acclaimed recordings.

Low point: “The times when I haven’t felt right physically.”

High point: “Every time the stars are aligned and I give a successful concert.”

Footnotes

(1) The violinist and teacheris, originally from Kazakhstan, now runs an academy in Switzerland. His method seems to work: his pupils also include Maxim Vengerov and Daniel Hope. Back to article

(2) Svetlana Zakharova, a principal dancer with the Bolshoi famed for her high extensions. Back to article

(3) The 1743 Bonjour violin. Back to article

(4) The Russian grandmaster held various world-champion titles from 2000 to 2007. Back to article

(5) Vladimir, the pianist and conductor. Back to article

A Gifted Cellist Sails Beyond Sweden, Across ‘Fields Of Love’

A Gifted Cellist Sails Beyond Sweden, Across ‘Fields Of Love’

The daughter of two musicians, Linnea Olsson started playing the cello at age 6. She was born in a small city on Sweden’s west coast, and grew up listening to ABBA and Bjork, as well as more eclectic artists like the Dutch singer-songwriter Anouk and the British rock band Skunk Anansie.

But her debut album, Ah!, is a creation all her own, with music largely based in improvisation and lyrics that resemble fanciful fairy tales. For example, “Giddy Up!” finds her picturing herself as she rides a horse across “fields of love.”)

Olsson recently spoke with All Things Considered about channeling heartbreak and restlessness into her music. Click the audio link to hear more.

Linnea Olsson’s debut album is called Ah! Tammy Karlsson / Courtesy of the artist

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Winter Olympics 2014: violinist Vanessa-Mae to ski for Thailand at the Sochi Games

Violinist Vanessa-Mae

British violinist Vanessa-Mae has fulfilled her long-term ambiltion to qualify for the Winter Olympics. She will be racing for Thailand, where her father was born

Winter Olympics 2014: violinist Vanessa-Mae to ski for Thailand at the Sochi Games

By Sarah Knapton 7:00AM GMT 20 Jan 2014

Vanessa-Mae, the violinist, is to put her musical career on ice after being selected to ski for Thailand in the Winter Olympics.

Mae, who has skied since childhood, will be competing as Vanessa Vanakorn using her Thai father’s surname.

Her manager told the BBC that she made the team “by a whisker”.

She has been training since 2010, when she told The Telegraph: “I am taking a plunge. It has been my dream, and I am hoping people will accept I just want to give it my best.”

Under current Olympic qualification rules, countries with no skier ranked in the world’s top 500 may send one man and one woman to the Games, to compete in slalom and giant slalom.

Vanessa, had to compete in at least five internationally recognised events in order to qualify for several slalom races at the Games next month.

“People are surprised when they see me skiing,” she said.

“But it has been my dream to be a ski bum since I was 14. This is something I am determined to do. I wanted to compete for Thailand because there is a part of me which I have never celebrated – being Thai.

“I have no delusions about a podium or even being in the top 100 in the world,” she said.

She is only the second Thai to compete at a Winter Olympics.

Vanessa, whose full name is Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson was born in Singapore to a Chinese mother and a Thai father but was brought up in the UK when her mother remarried a Briton. She is a British citizen but she also has a Thai passport.

Vanessa started skiing aged four but her violin playing took precedence.

She sold 10 million albums and was nicknamed ‘Teeny Paganini’ when, at just eight, she became the youngest pupil at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. At 13, she was the youngest soloist to record both Beethoven and Tchaikovsky concertos.

“I started skiing around the same time as I began playing the piano, at around four, before moving to the violin at five,” she said.

“And I’m lucky that having begun my musical career so young, it’s rather wonderful that I can now focus on my hobby. Not that I’m putting my day job on hold.

“Music will always be my greatest passion. There are still the concerts. To be honest, that became a treadmill. The endless touring, the promotions. By the time I got to 20, I was no longer enjoying it.”

Last year she announced she was taking a year off her music to qualify for the games. But she has previously said that she intends to return to music.

“Living my dream of being a ski bum is great but the best job in the world is being on stage, making music.”

Italian violinist strikes a chord with street children

Italian violinist

Italian violinist strikes a chord with street children

A leading Italian violinist has swapped gilded concert halls for audiences of street children around the world, using music therapy to help those less fortunate.

Sara Michieletto has performed with top orchestras across Europe during an illustrious career and since 1998 has played in the first violins of the orchestra of the Fenice opera house in Venice.
But more recently the 41-year-old has played for children across the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, in Indian slums and helping street kids and orphans in Indonesia.
Soothing, classical music helps angry, traumatized youths become “emotionally aware,” she said, helping them to better channel their anger and frustration.
“In the case of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, this is so important because they have faced a lot of difficult things in the past and trauma,” she said.
“Music is a very powerful means of conveying emotions.”
Since 2010 the violinist has been working with street children in and around the Indonesian capital Jakarta, a seething metropolis of 10 million people where many live in grinding poverty, as well as other parts of the country.
At a recent workshop at a center for rescued street children on the outskirts of Jakarta, a group of youngsters raced up to Michieletto and embraced her as she entered with her violin case slung over her shoulder.
A small group looked on as she drew the bow over the violin strings, playing a concerto from Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.”
As well as performing for the youngsters, she organizes workshops in drama, singing, photography and dance.
Among the children at the recent workshop was Suharti, a 14-year-old girl who spent years living on the streets, busking on overcrowded, sweltering trains or buses to make a living.
The youngster, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was rescued and brought to the Kampus Diakonia Modern center — which has living quarters and a school — along with her younger brother and sister.
“Everything feels very unpleasant when you are on the streets,” she said. “I always felt ashamed of myself every time I was busking.”
But she has found a new, more peaceful life and feels that Michieletto’s music has been a great help to her and the other children.
“We used to fight each other in class but since Ms. Sara started coming here, we are a lot calmer and more keen to study,” she said.
Sotar Sinaga, in charge of organizing music programs at the center, said the music had made a substantial contribution to helping Suharti.
“The way she (Suharti) expresses her emotions is much better now — she is no longer mean to her friends,” he said.
Michieletto started playing for underprivileged children in 2004 when she toured schools around the West Bank for several weeks, and in the decade since she has played for thousands of children around the world.
Under a special arrangement with the Fenice Foundation she is able to carry out her charitable work and continue playing with the opera house’s orchestra for a short period each year.
And while playing for underprivileged children is a world away from sold-out performances at world-famous venues, she says it brings her just as much happiness.

“When I play for the children, for me it’s like playing in an important concert,” she said