violins for peace
I love music. It's my life, no doubt, always has been.
Travelling around and playing concerts for different audiences all over the world has been what I do ever since I was a teenager. I thought that was it, thought I had found something fulfilling and meaningful and considered myself very lucky. All this got taken away from me, though, during these past months during which the world got hit by COVID-19.
The world fell silent; all of a sudden there was no music anymore.
That was when my perspectives started shifting.
What is it that music is good for, I thought?
Do we classical musicians all just live in a gigantic bubble, dependent on fancy attire and sponsors, general society simply showing a lack of interest to sufficiently fund our profession? Who do we play for, what is our impact on the world, what do we really leave behind for future generations apart from just another recording of Beethoven 5ths Symphony?
I had been thinking about starting my own recital series, not entirely sure which direction I wanted everything to be headed towards to.
Was all of this just going to be an entirely selfish thing? Privileged audiences listening to me, the just as privileged classical musician?
Waiting to check in at Zurich airport things all of a sudden became very clear to me.
What if I used my concerts, used my ability to make people pay to listen to my music to do some good in return?
I come from a background of educational work; both my parents are teachers.
Working with kids has always felt so natural to me; I've been teaching violin lessons and masterclasses for many years now, and in addition to that I've volunteered in several projects bringing classical music to young kids of different heritage. I've been an ambassador in the Nicola Benedetti Sessions in London (involving over 300 kids at once) and organised my own little orchestra project at my mums school, which is located in one of the poorer districts of Hamburg.
My mum's class is of mixed kind; wealthy kids learn side by side with refugees from Syria or Afghanistan.
Together with a team of other teachers we scraped together all the instruments the school had to offer, introduced the kids to the concept of an orchestra, and by the end of the day everyone was playing the Pachelbel in D.
Just like that.
Seeing the impact and joy that just a single day of music had for them made me want more of this, made me want to do everything in my power to bring more joy to more kids, for a longer period of time and with greater impact.
That's when the idea of Violins for Peace was born.
My vision is to combine and tackle two problems at the same time, that couldn't be further apart.
There is these kids on the one side, who weren't as lucky as I am to be born in a first world country, with loving parents who supported them along their way to have a fulfilled childhood with a successful future.
And then there is classical musician these days, whom I count myself to, struggling tremendously with their mental health, caused by general trauma, the current situation and an overall very high pressure any musician has to cope with.
Why not offer mental health support, quick and accessible online to those who need it most, and then continue working with the same musicians to travel to their world countries and bring some carefree and joyful moments to kids who haven't been so lucky so far?
It's a long way to go, but this way is my way.
play. educate. shape the future.
meet the artist
Born into a family of teachers, I grew up in Hamburg, Germany, with my parents talking about their work at school over dinner.
Both my mum and my dad are teachers, so their issues as school, different ways of teaching and the importance of education have always been prevalent in my upbringing.
I became aware of social issues and familiar hardships some of the kids where facing, and of the big responsibility these put on teachers in our society. My mum's school has got many kids from refugee countries, countries where kids have been robbed of their entire childhood.
Working with children has always been something I deeply enjoyed, so my mum and I planned for a day at her school where I'd come to lead a little orchestra project with her class. The day was a full success. There were 30 kinds, at least 20 of which had never held an instrument in their hands before, but at the end of the day everyone was neatly sat in an orchestral setting, playing the Pachelbel in D.
Seeing the kids smile, hearing them laugh, brought me so much fulfilment and caused me to wish to engage in more activities like this one, contributing what I can do for our society.