news and events » Godmothers and Godfathers a Q&A with Alexandra Soumm
Q: How did you get involved with the El Sistema France project?
A: The story began in December 2012 when I flew to Venezuela to perform there with the Teresa Carreno Youth Orchestra conducted by Christian Vasquez. The moment I arrived on stage, the entire orchestra started screaming, dancing and laughing. It was just incredible and we had a fantastic time working together. I also gave master classes, and so the connection between the young musicians and me grew even stronger. When I got back home from Caracas, I decided that something like El Sistema HAS to become real in France and just a few days later, completely by chance, I saw on the internet that it was setting up here. I was so happy and wrote to the President, explaining how much I would love to help and become part of this incredible journey. We met and I became the Godmother of the project, along with Godfather Thomas Leleu.
Q: What are the main aims and objectives of El Sistema, France?
A: In the long-term, we would like to achieve what Maestro Abreu did in Venezuela. Of course, each Sistema has to be a little bit different because of the economic, social and cultural differences between countries. What remains the same should be the energy and time we (as adults, musicians, volunteers, sponsors, etc) give to the children. It is our duty to give them all the opportunity to become, first and foremost, aware of their talents, to also give them faith in themselves, and help them become musicians. From September, children in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities will have group lessons. In our society we are too often told to be individualistic, but this doesn't always work in music, and so the main idea of the Sistema is that only altogether can we achieve big things.
Q: At what age did you become interested in the violin?
A: Both my grandfather and father are violinists, and they both worked with great teachers and musicians. My father started giving me violin lessons when I was five years old, and when I was seven, I gave my first concert. Shortly after, I started having lessons with Boris Kuschnir, with whom I still study now.
Q: What does it mean to you to be an LMM Award Holder?
A: The LMM Award is unique, it gives us very different things, such as a recital in the Wigmore Hall, a concerto performance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, advice from great mentors, and the opportunity to work with Bridge Project students. I think that this approach, from lots of different angles, is very interesting. I am so grateful to be able to work with the amazing London Music Masters team and share the award with two other great colleagues as well.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about being involved ithe the Bridge Project?
A: One of the main points of the Bridge Project is reflected in its name: to connect people. Usually, we musicians don't get the chance to meet with children, play and spend time with them. It's something I do more in France, with Sistema as well as with my own charity Esperanz'Arts. Children that learn music need to spend time with us. They need a sort of big sister or brother to relate to. Also, I learn a lot from the kids too! Their natural willingness to discover and explore new things is the biggest source of inspiration one could ever get.