BBC Music Magazine Rising Star
Rising Star: Great artists of tomorrow
In theory, the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition is open to players up to 18 years old. Some, however, such as violinist Callum Smart, take the plunge at a much younger age – he was just 13 when he entered the competition in 2010, but went on to impress the judges all the way to victory in the Strings category final. If that achievement alerted British viewers to his talent, finishing as the highest placed European player in the same year’s Menuhin Competition in Oslo had ears pricking up on a global level.
“What was so great about both competitions is that they gave me a platform to show what I could do,” he reflects. “As a result, I got opportunities that included touring with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and playing with the Polish Chamber Orchestra among others. I’ve also done a lot of recitals. It’s largely been a case of getting concert experience and exposure to different repertoire. It’s been great!”
Now 17, Smart is studying with his long-term teacher Maciej Rakowski and at Chetham’s School in Manchester but, unlike most school pupils, his diary is not exactly short of international concert engagements. This month, meanwhile, also sees the launch of his debut disc – joined by his regular recital partner Gordon Back, Smart performs Franck’s Sonata in A major alongside Chausson’s Poème and Grieg’s Second Sonata.
“The Chausson is a fascinating piece, not least because of the intriguing storyline that goes along with the music – how to connect words and literature to musical phrasing was a new experience to me. The Franck, meanwhile, is one of those pieces that every violinist wants to perform and so I had to really think about how I wanted to put my mark on it. And the Grieg is just like a breath of fresh Norwegian air!”
So, the important question. Where does a fully fledged 17-year-old concert violinist see himself heading next? “I’m keeping my options open at the moment. I’ve still got plenty to learn, but what I do know is that I feel most comfortable when I am on stage.”
Original article by Jeremy Pound. Published in the February 2014 issue of BBC Music Magazine.
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