Sophie Solomon’s musical melting pot

Sophie Solomon

Sophie Solomon

‘The violin is my voice,” says British violinist Sophie Solomon, who is performing Suita Concertante by Wiesenberg this week in Tel Aviv and Beersheba. The concert, written for classical and klezmer violin, is dedicated to the memory of the composer’s late father.

“I often repeat it and it is a little bit clichéd, but I don’t want to be constrained by traditional parameters of any genre. I just want to pick up a violin and do what I think is right. Playing with a symphony orchestra is not my usual environment. I know I bring something new to the table, and this gives me strength.”

Solomon, who has played violin since she was two, also studied Russian history in Oxford. “I would have loved to stay at university to get my PhD in history, but there was also music, and its pull was stronger.”

Born into a mixed Jewish British family, Solomon received “a very ecumenical upbringing, but in my teens my Jewish heritage suddenly spoke to me powerfully.”

In Oxford she founded the Oi-va-voi klezmer ensemble. “It was an exciting time, it gave me an opportunity to develop my own sound on the violin and my own performance approach.” After six years, Solomon left Oi-va-voi to pursue a solo career and later inaugurated a new ensemble which unites “some of London’s best musicians. Although one can trace the influences of Balkan, Russian, Polish, and Gypsy in my music, there still is a strong Jewish theme to what I do.”

That said, Russian literature, poetry and history still greatly inspire her. “I can see it in the lyrics I write.” Apart from lyrics, she is also writing a novel situated in Moscow, working on a documentary based on Russian culture, creating arrangements for a new production of the Fiddler on the Roof and participating in a special project, where she, together with her ensemble, will improvise on Mark Chagall based animations.

“I think that with a life like this, I am a very lucky person: I travel, I play music in different places and I write music and lyrics on the road – what could be better than that?”

Sophie Solomon will play Suita Concertante by Wiesenberg tonight at Auditorium Rosin in Tel Aviv and at the Beersheba Conservatory Saturday night. The concerts start at 8:30 p.m. Doron Solomon conducts.

MAXIM REIDER , THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 22, 2007

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