It has been said of Steve Jobs that he was able to achieve by the sheer force of his personality. What is it then that we bring to the proverbial table? Approximately 99.99% of it is energy, with the rest made up of degrees of wisdom (emotional IQ), and the learned parts that make up our humanity (empathy and compassion). Knowledge, which is the collected archive of experience, would be the part that primarily determines our métier or chosen purpose.
If you challenge someone who is aware that their essence is almost pure energy, then it is practically impossible to deter them. The spirit is stronger than anything we put in its way. It’s not about religion — it’s pure alchemy.
Someone who knows all about this is the violinist Lina Tur Bonet. And naturally her ensemble is called Musica Alchemica. If we can possibly keep up with her, we might learn something, otherwise, we will just have to be satisfied vicariously with visions of her peripatetic life. But wait, there she is now! Let’s listen…
Kathy Geisler: What are you currently working on in the field of classical music?
Lina Tur Bonet: On my music stand there is usually a lot of diverse music. Right now, for the next few months, there is music by Biber, Ravel, Bach, Schubert, Mozart, Vivaldi, Piazzolla, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Paganini, Ysaye and my beloved Seicento music of the Italian 17th century.
And here is how that all looks in my calendar: with my ensemble Musica Alchemica, I will be soloist in the Palau de Barcelona for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; I will be recording Vivaldi with Collegium 1704; recording Ravel with Musica Alchemica; performing Biber’s Rosary Sonatas with Musica Alchemica; I will conduct in Germany a program of the eight seasons of Piazzolla and Vivaldi as soloist with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern; perform Beethoven, Corelli and Boccherini with Musica Alchemica at the Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci; will perform as guest concertmaster with La Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España; and concerts of the Bach concertos and suites with Musica Alchemica—I think I will stop there for now…
Kathy: What were some of your early lessons or experiences in classical music?
Lina: My father taught me to read music when I was very young, (2 or 3??) even before learning to read words—and I started to dance at a very young age, something that I really adored. The violin arrived many years later.
My most vivid childhood memory is locking myself in a darkened room and dancing to music for hours, invisible to the world. I danced to all kinds of music. It felt somehow that I was transported into another dimension.
Kathy: What is one of your favorite places and why?
Lina: There is a place, it is a cliff next to the place where my parents were born, from where I have seen many sunrises and also you can see the sea from far away as well as the nearby islands. It sits on gargantuan Renaissance walls, and the nature is spectacular. I have bathed very often in the sea that is visible below, the trail goes down the mountain, between the trees. It is a place that connects me with my ancestors, where I have spent a lot of time reading and listening to music.
Kathy: What is one of your favorite pieces and do you have a favorite performer or experience of it?
Lina: To name just one, Monteverdi’s Vespers, the version by Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
Gardiner’s interpretation of the Vespers is reminiscent of the feeling I had when I danced alone as a child. For me it is an indescribable feeling of fullness and connection. It transports me to my beloved Venezia, to my beloved seventeenth century, and it produces a strange nostalgia for something that I have not known but I think is in my DNA.
Kathy: Is there an artist no longer living who somehow made an impression on you?
Lina: Johann Sebastian Bach, Maurice Ravel, and David Bowie.
Bach because he is my teacher every day since I first discovered him. Ravel because I feel very close to the emotions and ideas that he represents with his music. And David Bowie because he is a musician of my time who has been able to do something completely personal with an unusual creative and communicative capacity.
Kathy: What is one thing you think will be different about classical music 100 years from now?
Lina: I just hope it is listened to with the same naturalness and attitude as the music that will be current at that time.
Kathy: What is something about your work that you think most people have no idea about?
Lina: I was told I couldn’t play violin any more, and I was told this on several occasions, because of various physical problems, fractures and illnesses. I have never mentioned them because I wanted to achieve my goals based solely on artistic merits. There were numerous problems that interrupted very important moments, which would have allowed me to develop my career much earlier. Eventually, this all became woven into my unique experience as an artist.
Kathy: Did you have any life-changing experiences that put you on the path that led you to be doing what you’re doing today?
Lina: Precisely those hard moments made me love what I do even more intensely and work for it with passion whenever possible. But there is a specific moment, just when I started with the violin, in which a teacher told me that due to a physical problem in my hand I could never be a violinist. That made me go home and tell my mother that this was exactly what I was going to do with my life!
Kathy: Is there anything else you would like to say about yourself, your work, or classical music?
Lina: I think music, apart from magic, is one of the most useful things that exist in this life. Being able to dedicate yourself to it as a professional, an amateur or audience, listening to it or dancing with it, is without a doubt a blessing and a miracle—even for those who do not believe in anything outside of these temporal dimensions.
This article originally appeared on medium.com in the publication Humans of Classical Music.