‘I’ve been performing since I was 11. I’ve seen many countries, but I’ve decided to make Israel my home,” says Russian-born virtuoso violinist Marianna Vasileva, 28, who is counted among the leading musicians of her generation. “I first came to Israel at the age of 16 and immediately fell in love with the country. People are warm and open, and I feel secure and protected here,” she adds. Vasileva recently immigrated to Israel and obtained Israeli citizenship.
Born in Saint Petersburg into a musical family, she started her violin studies at the age of five with her father, later playing duos with her pianist mother. She studied with such prominent teachers as Vladimir Ovcharek (of the Vocational school and the St. Petersburg Conservatory), Dora Schwarzberg (of the High School of Music in Vienna), Zakhar Bron (of the High School of Music in Cologne). She currently serves as a professor of violin at the Music Academy in Madrid, in addition to her globe-trotting career.
Vasileva has won eight important international violin competitions, such as the most prestigious Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition and the Prague Spring International Music Competition. Dubbed by music critics, audiences and fellow musicians as an upcoming first lady of violin, Vasileva performs as a guest artist with internationally famed ensembles. She collaborates with talented young artists such as Tal-Haim Samnon, Miroslav Sekera, the Amernet String Quartet, as well as artists such as Shlomo Mintz, Krzysztof Penderezki, Itamar Golan, Paul Watkins, Yuri Bashmet, Saulius Sondeckis and Vladimir Spivakov.
Her repertoire includes more than 40 concertos for violin and orchestra, as well as chamber music and solo recitals. Vasileva has been performing in Israel in the framework of the Tel Aviv Museum Art chamber series since 2012.
On August 20 at the YMCA concert hall in Jerusalem, Vasileva will perform 24 caprices by Paganini. This is a rarely performed cycle, especially for female violinists, as it is challenging both technically and physically. The idea of performing the 24 caprices was inspired by maestro Shlomo Mintz, who presided over the jury at several music competitions, of which Vasileva was the winner.
“Indeed, this is a very difficult program. But after performing it maybe three or so times, I started to reveal new, and even more beautiful colors of the caprices. Despite being difficult to perform, it is easily perceived by the public. The reason is that Pagainin based his pieces on simple folk melodies. I first performed the caprices in Madrid in front of a simple, non-musical audience, and it was met with a standing ovation, even though I thought that it was not that easy to listen to a violin solo for an hour and a half. Caprices by Paganini are played at music competitions – one, two, maybe five in one take. But now I realize that this is wrong. The 24 caprices constitute a piece with its own dramaturgy and have to be performed as such. As we violinists say, while Bach is the Old Testament, Paganini is the New,” she says.
Speaking about Israel, Vasileva says, “I love this country. I like everything here – the people, the air, the atmosphere, the love of life, which is characteristic of Israelis. And yes, I know there are quite a few problems in this country, but I personally feel very good here. I can perform concerts all over the world, which, together with seeing new places and meeting new people is an immense pleasure. But I need a place where I can get relaxed, and this is Israel,” she says. Currently Vasileva is staying at kibbutz Revivim in the South. “The place is beautiful and quiet. I am learning Hebrew and am advancing well. I interrupt my studies from time to time, since I travel to perform abroad, but my tutors treat me with understanding!” she says.