The Violin Channel recently caught up with LGT Young Soloists Artistic Director, violinist Alexander Gilman.
Founded by Alexander and pianist Marina Seltenreich in collaboration with the LGT Private Bank, in Switzerland, the European-based string ensemble comprises highly gifted young string soloists from more than 15 nations across the world.
Alexander, tell us a little about yourself … your personal experience and professional background?
"Born in Germany, I was privileged to study with great masters such as Dorothy Delay and Zakhar Bron.
Fifteen-years ago, after making a career of being a soloist, recording artist, and chamber musician, I found my passion in working with the next generation of musicians. Since that time, I have been teaching both in Zurich and Vienna and have built my own studio of award-winning students.
Besides giving masterclasses worldwide at universities and festivals, I am the founder of the LGT Young Soloists."
Where did the idea come from to start the LGT Young Soloists ensemble?
"Through teaching and being a soloist, I was faced with the difficulty of today's path of becoming a professional musician. My vision originated by working with highly-gifted young musicians, who had the potential to become professional soloists.
I then used my knowledge, network and experience as both a soloist and a teacher to offer them more than one-on-one mentorship. This includes concert performances, auditions for conductors, CD recordings, stage experience and management contact."
How did you go about taking this from just an idea in your head to the formation of a touring international chamber ensemble?
"From my teaching experience, I knew that there was a certain niche in the support of the top 1% of the future generation of musicians; this lead to the development of our first concert, five years ago.
After this performance, there was huge amount of positive feedback from the audience, who were raving about the unique combination of a high-caliber musical performance given by young musicians.
Following this concert, it was clear to me that my vision for this ensemble had suddenly become a reality and had the potential to be a successful touring international chamber ensemble.
Five years later, we have had concert tours in over 30 countries, recorded a live-in-concert DVD, and have already released three CD´s and are currently in the process of a fourth with RCA Red Seal (Sony Music). Not to mention, becoming a VC Young Artist. :-)"
What do you look for in your members and how do you select them?
"There are several aspects that we are looking for; the most important is being a team player, and to perform on a very high level with the goal of becoming a professional musician.
Being both a soloist and a team player is not a traditional combination, but is what we require from our members. Members need to be flexible with their social attitude to be able to integrate themselves into this small group.
It is certainly not enough to only be a top-musician."
What is the commitment required from the members?
"Preparation, discipline, and the craving to make beautiful music together."
What are the benefits the young musicians receive from the experience?
"Receiving experience as soloist, chamber musicians and orchestra musician through worldwide performances as well as developing a strong stage presence, extending their repertoire and recording CD’s and DVD’s."
What have been the highlights to date?
"Being the first youth ensemble/orchestra recording for RCA Red Seal (Sony Music).
Concerts at major festivals and concert halls, such as the Rheingau Music Festival, Dresden Music Festival, Merano Music Festival, Victoria Concert Hall Singapore, Mozarteum Salzburg, Gasteig Munich, Tonhalle Zurich, Luxembourg Philharmonie, De Doelen Rotterdam and many more.
Regular appearances on TV and Radio.
This year’s highlights will include debut concerts at the Musikverein Vienna and the Berliner Philharmonie."
Where do you see the ensemble heading in the next 20 years?
"My goal in the next 20 years is to discover more young talents from all around the world and offering them the unique platform of the LGT Young Soloists."
And finally, what three words describe the ensemble?
"Youth. Professionalism. Energy."
Applications are now being accepted worldwide from outstanding young violinists, violists, cellists and bassists, aged 12 to 21, to join the LGT Young Soloists ensemble.