What is it like to live with a musician? I mean, not just some amateur, but afull-time creative human being?
Well, I guess I can consider myself lucky, because I live with one. (Yes, you may have already figured it out; it's the gorgeous girl wearing a red dress on the picture). Being a musician might seem romantic, but it's hard work. Not only do you have to practice and performe but you also have to be super organized when it comes to balancing multiple jobs, gigs and studies at once. I had the opportunity to photograph my roommate and good friend for her projects (and my pleasure). I wanted to share some of the pictures along with an interview. So here it goes!
Name: Kristína Chalmovská
Origin: Slovakia, currently doing her second Master studies (and being awesome) in Zurich.
Hey, you're finally back from traveling. Nice to have you back!
So tell me, why music?
It has always been a part of me, since I remember. I started to play when I was 4 years old. I remember that while we were watching movies with my family I only cared about the music and always knew the themes and songs from it. My mom played the piano, so she was my leading point and at some point I started to play the themes on the piano as well. I went to my first competition at the age of 7. They didn't let me win, because most oft he kids were over 10 years old and I was too young. I even got a standing ovation and didn't even realize that I was so good.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration basically comes from the music itself. If you play a piece of music, your personal feelings are in a way restricted by the musical notation. This is why you have to understand the connection of the history and the composer as well as when and how he lived. You play his story that he wrote into the music. Of course you need to find your feelings and yourself in it. It's not like you can just copy or play something that’s written as it is.
For example, if you play Shostakovich’s Sonata about the war and all the horrible things that were happening, it’s all in the music! The fact is that I have never experienced the kind of war the music is about. So you work yourself through the literatureand try to find the connection between your experiences and the composer's story. This is the only way to understand the feelings the composer had at that moment. At least, that’s what I always do!
I remember when you played your Master Recital you made a program with a short description to every piece of music.
Yes, I did. Well, usually you just write about the composer, when he was born and what pieces he wrote… but I was more interested in the story behind the music, so I was trying to find all the possible official information about the pieces to help the audience understand the music and connect with it. We play the music to speak with it!
What do you think does it takes to be a musician?
Lots of work! (laughing)
Not only talent, right?
There are so many talented people, but it's your choice what you make of it. And don't forget to remind yourself that it takes a lot of work too.
I know that you've been traveling around since you were very young. How old were you when you travelled far away for the first time?
I did my first competition when I was nine in Tallinn, Estonia. I won second prize and was playing with the orchestra.
Tell me about this experience. What did you learn from it?
It was very exciting at the time! We didn’t use to travel a lot with my family. My only option to get away from Slovakia was through music. It was actually the first time when I went to McDonalds!(laughing)
Tell me your most unforgettable experience of being a musician?
Ok, I have two I can never forget!
Once I had a lesson with my professor (Raphael Wallfisch, editor's note) in London. At his house he had lots of instruments. At one point he asked me to close my eyes and brought me a cello, a Stradivari cello! It was unbelievable, because this instrument was just reacting to everything you wanted. The quality of the sound was amazing! I never experienced such a thing before. I literally fell in love with this cello!
The second was also in London when I was playing in Wigmore Hall, one of the most famous venues in the world. I used to go and see some concerts there, but the hall seemed pretty ordinary to me at that time. Once I had the chance to play there with the piano trio. It was unbelievable! The room and the acoustic in it were just reading your mind. It would react very quickly and it sounded great! We looked at each other while we were playing and were amazed at how magical it was!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I have no idea where my life will lead me. I’m doing as much as I can and finding as many opportunities as I can to play. But in the end I don’t really know.
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
First of all I would like to be happy and play lots of music. Maybe have a family and lots of good friends... just to live a happy life!
Did you ever think of quitting, was it ever an option?
Of course! It was in these difficult points of my life, with a lot of stress and no sleep. (laughing) When you try really hard to do something, have no rest and just push yourself to the limits and then suddenly realize that the result is not what you want it to be. This can be very frustrating.
If you could choose to do something else than music, what would it be?
I really like psychology. The human mind and soul are the most interesting things! For a musician it's also very important to understand humanity in a way so that you can speak to people through music.
But I also like geology! Every time I go to the mountains I try to imagine how it was like thousands of years ago and all the transformations that happened since then.
Who is your biggest idol?
I don't have one particular idol. I get inspired by the ordinary people or musicians I meet sometimes. The way they handled certain things in their lives really inspires me.
All musicians have some special relation with their instrument. Tell me more about it!
Of course you’re really close. You spend twenty hours per day with it. You get attached to it, but I don’t give it names. (laughing)
What is your biggest fear when you go on stage?
The minutes before the concert, when the audience is already inside and you can’t play. These are the most terrifying minutes! When I walk out on to the stage – you usually wear these long, beautiful dresses – you just have to focus on your steps, with the stairs, the cello, the bow and the skirt. I had so many nightmares that I would step on my skirt and fall down on my cello!
What is the most amazing thing about a concert?
It’s the moment of silence right after the concert. You play, you tell your story with all your emotions and you engage the people. They listen to you and their breathing changes, because your breathing changes. You can basically hear the people's thoughts. It's almost like you can touch them.
What is the most amazing thing about being a musician?
It never gets boring! There are so many things to learn about and to explore.
What are your plans for the nearest future? Are there some cool projects?
I really like to play chamber music and chamber and symphony orchestra. I also play a lot of baroque music and historically informed performance practice. I have a baroque group in Germany and a baroque orchestra in Zurich and London. I also did a recording lately, which is very cool!
How would you describe yourself with 3 words?
Dedicated, amazed and caring.
Words to live by...
«Rain brings the luck.» My mom used to say it to me when it was raining outside and I was about to play a concert.