Tuesday 29 September 2015

Meet Frederieke Saeijs

Ahead of performing Oliver Knussen's Violin Concerto as part of our TAKE TWO: Oliver Knussen in Focus double-bill this October, violinist Frederieke Saeijs took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about her musical career so far.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Every concert is unique and therefore a highlight in a way, but if I have to choose I’ll go for this upcoming performance of Oliver Knussen’s violin concerto with Britten Sinfonia. I have never before performed a violin concerto under the baton of the composer himself. It will be a great opportunity and inspiration to work so closely together with the very creator of the piece and such an experienced ensemble. I’m looking forward to this experience incredibly!

When are you happiest?
When hugging my son Maxime and my partner Arjen at the same time, in a true family “group hug”!

What is your greatest fear?
In a way, fear itself.

What is your earliest musical memory?
Hearing my father (harpsichord/piano) and my mother (flute) play sonatas by J.S. Bach together.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
One of the many persons I admire is Mauricio Fuks, my former professor at Indiana University. Somehow he is able to read the soul of his students through their playing, as if he had a sixth sense. Also, he knows exactly how to encourage each student by handing out the right tools to perfect technique and to connect to ones own unique musical voice. He has surely contributed greatly to my development as a violinist and artist, for which I’m very thankful.

What is your most treasured possession?
My violin, crafted by Petrus Guarneri in 1725. The instrument is not actually my possession, but thanks to the Dutch National Foundation for Musical Instruments I have the chance to play on it. This violin has become an extension of my body over the past 8 years.

What would your super power be?
I’d like to be able to fly and play Quidditch!

In real life I hope to touch the hearts of the people in the audience through my violin. Music has the potential to create magic and to “give wings” to the listener. So, I intend to use the bow as a magic wand and make the music fly

If you were an animal what would you be?
I’d love to be a seahorse…floating elegantly and peacefully through the sea.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Nibbling a cookie (or other sweet) and putting it back on the plate it is served from

What is your favourite book?
Harry Potter

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
To drink a soy chai tea latte, accompanied by a Dutch “stroofwafel” (syrup waffle)…yummie!

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Eugène Ysaÿe, Georges Enescu, Jacques Thibaud, Pablo de Sarasate…all phenomenal violin masters of the past!

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To the workshop of Pietro Guarneri in Venice, 1725, to witness the birth of my violin and to hear it’s first notes being played.

How do you relax away from the concert platform?
I love to salsa dance. Especially after many hours in the same posture (which for the violin is not the most natural one), salsa helps to shake everything loose. Also the happy music instantly puts me in a good mood and helps to get over any sense of fatigue.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To embrace the “here and now” and to count your blessings.

In a nutshell, what is your philosophy?
Seize the day: carpe diem!


Join Britten Sinfonia, Frederieke Saeijs and Oliver Knussen for this performance of Knussen's Violin Concerto - alongside Tippett's Concerto for Orchestra and works by Mozart and Stravinsky - on Wednesday 28 October 2015, 7.30pm at London's Barbican Hall. Find out more.

Read Frederielke's biography here

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