Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Plucking at the heart-strings of Asian audiences

Posted by Kimberly on November 17, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
November 17, 2007 (853 words)

Stefan Tarara was only three years old when his father, a fellow violinist, encouraged him to pick up the instrument.

“This was only unfolding my violin and putting it back after playing a little bit,” he said, adding that it was at the age of four, that he performed in his first concert.

“It was only strings without using my fingertips,” he said, explaining that his father was his first teacher and eventually came to study with Professor Zakhar Bron, one of Russia’s most famous violin teachers.

“I am his only student in Mannheim [Germany],” said Stefan, who travels to Kern or Zurich for lessons with the maestro yet studying his other university subjects at Mannheim.

The 21-year-old admitted that “the violin at the beginning is very hard,” he said, because of not knowing where to place one’s fingers.

“I don’t say end because there is no end,” he said, referring to his lessons of the instrument.

His mother, a singer, had originally wanted Stefan to become a singer like herself, but agreed that he should play the violin first, as opposed to something like the piano, as she believed it was best to start with “the hardest instrument.

“I also play the piano because I have to for university but it’s very low level,” he said, having also done five years of percussion with three concerts as a percussion soloist, suggesting that he would choose the clarinet as an alternative instrument to his violin.

Despite his young age, hardly any hint of nerves seem to show, with Stefan suggesting that “I’m not so nervous.

“I don’t want to say I’m used to it but I have had so many concerts. You have a plan and know what to do,” he said, adding that “if you are prepared, you’re not nervous.”

But while he admits to being “very happy on stage,” he has had some concerts where “I’ve become very nervous.

“The concerts were horrible and today, I still don’t know why,” he said, yet adding rather philosophically, “but this is life and we’re only human.”

Asked about his favourite pieces or music or composers, he doesn’t hesitate in naming Jean Sibelius, the composer whose works he will be playing tonight, as a definite favourite.

“It’s such a great concerto,” he said, adding that it was written in modern times, but is not so modern, “so the sounds have harmony.”

He also names Tchaikovsky and E. Chanson for their romantic pieces, including the latter’s Poeme.

Of this Stefan added, “it’s a great piece with a lot of heart.” He also lists modern music from Penderecki as a favourite, explaining that “many people don’t like modern music but I do. It has a lot of expression.”Asked about Mozart, he agreed that it was “difficult to play because it’s so open and you hear every note.”Finally, there’s his love of Brahms’ symphonies and Bach’s Ciaconne which he described as, “is the greatest piece.”When speaking about his concert tonight, he stressed the importance of “wanting to give the emotion from the music to the people. For me it’s important because I think music is entertainment but it’s much more.

“I try to see for myself pictures and images with a piece of music. Of course the audience will not see exactly the same thing but hopefully they’ll feel it,” he said, adding that music was an international language anyone could understand.

Curiosity a to whether he would still feel the same passion for his instrument thirty years from now, led to the question to which he responded, “I’m sure of it.

“There are so many pieces that are so wonderful and I haven’t even played a fraction. Also chamber music is great and for sure I will do it,” he said.

His goal for the next five to ten years include being a soloist, “this is my destiny to work towards” and later to become a professor, “and teach other people the knowledge I’ve learnt. For me it’s very important, that others can also see the magic of music,” he said.

He seems to have a particular fondness for Asia, after mentioning that he had recently played a Beethoven concerto with the National Symphonie Orchestra of Beijing in June this year.

“I like very much being in Asia,” he said, adding that “I like the Asian food, the people, everything.

“The Asian audience feels music more with their heart,” he added, comparing them with the European audience, when prompted.

He also lamented the fact that “young people don’t go to classical concerts much in Europe so much. In Beijing it’s so much better,” he said.

Asked about the proliferation of young prodigies, he said, “there are many young classical musicians, we are very friendly and we don’t feel like rivals on stage. We have contact and it’s great.”

The fact that the Macao orchestra is “so young” seems astonishing to him, although he added that “this was great. I like it very much.”

Stefan will be performing four pieces of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in the grand auditorium of the Macau Cultural Centre tonight at 8pm.



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