An Interview with Anna Gockel
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French violinist welcomed at AX The Palace.
During her stay in Malta for the ‘Straus Composer and Conductor’ concert hosted by the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in February 2020, Anna Gockel sat with us and talked about her love for music, her role models, and her impression of Malta!
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career?
A: I’m a violinist and a musician, I grew up in the South of France in Marseille, and music has always been a family thing. My parents are not professional musicians but they love music. Moreover, I have two sisters and we all learned music as we learned reading. We also enjoyed playing together, so I was lucky to get this joy of sharing music very early and also to get the support of my parents to focus, because you also need a lot of focus to reach a good level. That was the beginning of my music life. I went to the Paris conservatoire when I was fourteen years old, because I finished from the Marseille conservatoire, so it was great for me to open my horizons through a lot of musicians and inspiring teachers, where I had the chance to work with a very important teacher to me. I also founded a trio, the Karénine Trio and I stayed five years with them. I feel like Chamber music is the place where you really learn what music is, so it was extremely important in my past to have those very intensive years of Chamber music. Additionally, I got the chance to work with a quartet, which was great. We won competitions and we had concerts, but then I decided that I needed more time to focus on my solo path, and I also wanted more time to explore this repertoire, so I left the trio. At the time I was studying in Germany, and I spent most of my time, in my room, practicing. It was important for me to take this time to really focus exclusively on my music. I also started doing various solo competitions such as The Queen Elizabeth, which was last May, and I recorded my first CD which was also a big step for me. Recording was a bit crazy! I needed to record a piece from Bach, our Bible for violinists, so it was a good stepping stone to start with. Since then, my career is doing very well so I get the chance to travel and to make the music that I love, and I’m very grateful for this.
Q: So, who are your role models in this industry or in life in general? Who do you look up to?
A: In the musical world, we have the chance today to have a lot of recordings from musicians who have passed away, so that also gives us the possibility to be inspired by people who we will never have the chance to meet in real life. There are so many great musicians that we have recordings of, especially the Amadeus Quarter. I’m so in love with their recordings, but there are so many. When it comes to violinists, I like Isabel Faust. She has a kind of commitment and grace when she plays and also her artistical choices are to explore the early repertoire with historical instruments as well, and also to play contemporary music. If I had to pick one role model I would pick her, but hopefully when you’re a violinist you’re not inspired only by violinists. I’m inspired by many things; by the sea in Malta, by landscapes, poetry, literature, symphonies!
Q: Now that you mention Malta, what do you like most about Malta? Did you get the chance to go out and explore?
A: First of all, what I like is that you see the sea everywhere. In whichever direction you look, you see the sea and for me it’s such a joy. Yesterday I had the first rehearsal and the spirit in the rehearsal was great and very happy. I’m looking forward to the next rehearsal and the concert, I think we’re going to enjoy it and I have good hopes that the audience will enjoy it too. Yesterday I took two hours to go and see the Caravaggio, and it was very special. I just learnt also that you have a lot of pre-historic artwork, so yesterday I looked up the Sleeping Lady. I’m discovering that it’s a treasure island. I think I would need more time here.
Q: If you had to do any other job, what job would you choose and why?
A: You mean outside of music? That’s a good question, it’s hard to pick one because I would have a lot of choice. I like the feeling of the way you do things when you’re making music which may be a bit idealistic. When you cook for example it’s not so far from making music, you’re exploring, you’re looking for tastes and when we as musicians, are looking for sounds we try to touch people, we try to make them feel what life is, in a way. So, I would definitely go down creative or social avenues.
Q: What do you like doing in you spare time apart from music?
A: Meeting friends and family is very important. Reading and spending time to explore, like hiking. I don’t get the chance to do it a lot, but when I visit my parents in Marseille, I always have to spend one day hiking in the nature and fueling my batteries. And listening to music also, of course!
Q: What are your goals for the future?
A: My next concert is in Germany, a solo violin recital where I will play some Bach sonatas, and for the first time I will also play the Bartok solo sonata, which is a big piece, so it requires a lot a focus, but I’m very happy to finally do it. I will also be teaching for three months in the Madrid superior conservatory, so I’m very excited about this experience and I have a Beethoven concerto coming in Paris. I have a tour in May in Mexico with a great modern ensemble.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the ‘Strauss Composer and Conductor’ concerto?
A: We’re going to perform in the Sibelius concerto, which is one of the biggest masterpieces for violin orchestra. It has a very strong connection with nature. There’s a very strong romantic connection between inside human’s feelings and between nature and power and poetry. The first movement is a long inspiration of the elements. The second movement is one of the slowest movements we have, and the last one is so much fun and very exciting.
Q: How did you find your stay at AX The Palace?
A: Great! I feel like a princess. I think I can fit myself five times in the bed and I have a balcony which for me is so special and I can see the sea and the sun. Every direction I go, I’m in front of the sea. And people are so nice!
Thank you for choosing AX The Palace, and we look forward to welcoming you again!