Jakarta Post, A Venetian Violinist
By Erza S. T.
How does one become a great violinist? Is it the passion? Is it the talent? Or is it the determination?
According to Sara Michieletto, you need all three, plus hours of discipline.
As an accomplished violinist who has won numerous awards, Michieletto never imagined she would be a violin player when she grew up.
When she was 6 years old, she loved singing as a way of expressing herself. However, to her disappointment, her teacher gently told her not to sing loudly in class as it disturbed the other children. Having music as her inner force, Michieletto decided to find another instrument instead and that is how violin came into the picture.
“At the age of 9, I told my mom I wished I could play a musical instrument. We wondered what would be the best choice: piano or violin? I like both!”
Wisely, her mother told her: “Sara, a full size piano weighs 400 kilograms while a full size violin weighs 400 grams. You seem to be curious about the world and looking forward to taking your musical instrument with you. Which one would you choose?”
At that time, she had no clue what she would become as an adult, but her mother’s foresight came true 16 years later when she got an audition at the La Fenice Symphony and Opera Orchestra.
Honored for her splendid virtuosity and rare technical and musical prowess, Michieletto has joined many prestigious orchestras as a violinist at the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra da Camera Italiana and many others.
She recently offered a private recital with Indonesian pianist Ary Sutedja, in which her technical precision combined with deep feeling and musical understanding was on display. One of the most outstanding performances that night was Paganini’s renowned “The Carnival of Venice”.
“I like to let the flow of music pass through my violin toward the audience. The more I let the music capture my concentration while playing, the more I enjoy and feel its magic.”
Using a Luciano Crispilli violin that was made in Venice, Michieletto and Ary brought the audience into the realm of beautiful melodies. Her perfection playing the violin is perhaps inspired by her first teacher, Prof. Giacobbe Stevanato, who not only helped her to select the violin as an instrument but was also very tough on her.
“On a few occasions I found myself playing in tears during the classes. Once he even told me that I was not fit to play the violin! I didn’t like that, but I guess it made me stronger in my choice to continue playing, as it made my stubbornness even harder,” she said.
Nevertheless, this hard work paid off beautifully. Since then, she has won several prizes and collaborated with some of the most renowned classical musicians and conductors in the world such as Salvatore Accardo (violinist), Kurt Masur (conductor), Dmitrij Kitajenko (conductor) and Sir. John E. Gardiner (conductor), to name a few.
Like many classical musicians in the world, Michieletto also struggles with audience perceptions. She believes that music requires a deep and accurate practice and study. It can surely be entertaining, but should also be full of life experience.
“I find it demeaning when people ask for music as a background, or when they assume that it is a mere ‘hobby’ … To quote the great conductor Daniel Barenboim, ‘I wish that more people could understand that music is the ‘physical expression of the human soul’.’”
Michieletto’s arrival to Indonesia was part of a recent project called “The Strains of Violin in Southeast Asia” under the patronage of the La Fenice Foundation. The project brought her to Asian countries, including Indonesia, with two objectives in mind: First, to make classical music (especially Venetian composers) known, and second, to foster emotional awareness through music for disadvantaged children.
“Up to now in Indonesia I have performed at different venues including RRI [Jakarta], Seni University [Yogyakarta], and Sienny Studio [Surabaya]. I also played for the victims of the Merapi eruptions in 2010, for street children and orphans, and for children affected by cancer in the hospital. It is my wish to build a musical bridge that will connect Venice and Indonesia.”
With her background as a trainer in the pedagogy of emotions, Michieletto implements music and intercultural pedagogy as therapy for oppressed victims.
She took the opportunity to record a CD containing her compositions for violin and gamelan (among others) to celebrate the unity of music throughout cultural differences as part of the Southeast Asia violin project.
After her experiences in Indonesia, Michieletto think classical music in Indonesia is filled with potentially musical people who have lots of curiosity about classical music.
She believes with more improvement in music education and standard levels of music teachers, and through building an annual season with a symphony and opera, Indonesian musicians could really emerge on the international scene.
We asked Michieletto, what does it take to be a great, accomplished violinist? She answered, “A lot of passion, discipline and … curiosity!”