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Violinist lifts cast of young talent

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

15:35, June 07, 2013

German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter's path to stardom has relied not only on talents, but also on opportunities given by masters like her teachers, soloist Aida Stucki and conductor Herbert von Karajan, with whom she had 13 years of collaboration till his death.

So she wanted to reach a point that she could also help a younger generation of musicians. That's why she founded the Anne-Sophie Mutter Foundation in 1997, which commissions compositions for its scholarship students.

Mutter's Virtuosi, an ensemble of 14 scholarship students, is the next step, coming as her foundation is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. She will lead the ensemble in its China debut in Beijing on June 11.

"I am bringing contemporary music to Asia, particularly because it is needed for a generation of listeners as well of musicians to clearly see the importance of contemporary music in our cultural understanding of each other's roots," she says.

The program features one of Mutter's favorite composers in Sebastian Currier's Ringtone Variations, for violin and double bass, a work commissioned by her foundation.

Meanwhile, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, which will also be performed in the concert, "speaks to all of us through describing nature, human circumstances", she adds.

Among the 14 musicians in the ensemble, violinist Lu Wei came from China and auditioned on one of Mutter's trips to China.

A native of Beijing, Lu began violin lessons at the age of 3. At 28, he has already secured himself a successful career as concertmaster of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin for five years, the youngest in his profession.

Mutter urges her students to "tell their own stories" with music as they come from around the globe, including France, Poland, South Korea and China.

Mutter herself embarked on her international career as a 13-year-old soloist at the Whitsun Concerts under Von Karajan. She will celebrate her 25th recital anniversary in Carnegie Hall in December with the world premiere of a new Penderecki solo piece as well as Andre Previn's second sonata.

As a working mother, Mutter says balancing life as an artist and a mother needs some skillful planning, a lot of willpower and the ability to survive on little sleep.

"Being onstage is a great thrill," she says, but having a foundation, supporting a young generation and doing benefit concerts around the world for those in need all give her life a more meaningful dimension.

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