It seems to me, that today you are probably the only british violinist of the highest level. What's your opinion, why is it so? What is the attitude to violin music in Britain?
DH: I disagree! There are many wonderful violinists from Britain! But I do worry that music education in Europe is rapidly facing extinsion from the school curriculum. Let me be very clear in stating that I am a great proponent of arts education, but in my opinion, the purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists. The real purpose is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society. Our world needs need creativity, ingenuity and innovation. And real innovation doesn't just come from technology, it comes through art and design. Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and defining the world. Adult life begins in a child's imagination, but in the last 50 years we've turned that imagination over to the marketplace. And the marketplace does only one thing -- it puts a price on everything. The role of culture, however, must go beyond economics and focus on value. There is only one social force that is strong enough to counterbalance the commercialization of cultural values - and that is our educational system. Yet here we sit, in the year 2015, and in our schools, kids are being pushed through without music, without visual arts, without dance or literary arts, training primarily one side of their brain - analytically and numerically - while the other half, which is about holistic and aesthetic learning, remains underdeveloped.
Considering your passion to the violin, could you become the founder of the new british violin school? What's your attitude to teaching?
DH: I was trained very much in the Russian school of violin playing. Felix Andrievsky, Itzhak Rashkovsky, Grigroy Zhislin and Zakhar Bron were my teachers. Of course these teachers themselves were heavily influenced by Yankelevich and David Oistrakh. For me there is no better school of playing. I myself do not teach, but I give masterclasses occasionally. I find it a fascinating and inspiring thing, but at the same time I do not yet feel completely ready to become a teacher. I am still learning too much…
AIR. What is the concept of it?
DH: From Amati's creation of the violin in the 16th century, the long journey which the violin has taken to the present day has been an extraordinary and tempestuous one. Arguably its greatest development was during the baroque era, as violinists and composers, in a sense liberated from the austerity and contrapuntal strictures of the Renaissance, went on a journey, both musically and geographically, avidly seeking more extravagant and original ways in which to express themselves on this fascinating new instrument.
Air sets out to trace one such baroque journey. It is the story of four unique composers, three of whom were virtuoso violinists, one a lutenist - Falconiero, Matteis and Geminiani from Italy, and Westhoff from Germany. They wandered throughout Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries in search of musical inspiration and cross-pollination, and their music and art of performance intrigued and delighted kings, contemporaries and audiences alike. Air blends the simplest and at times most primitive forms of dance music with the most sophisticated and revolutionary compositions of the day, culminating in a work by Bach - the great master, whose title is my inspiration for this collection, and whose music remains for me today more modern than that of anyone else.
Fantastic musicians are taking part in the AIR project. Are all of them coming to St. Petersburg? How important for the project is the situation when all of the musicians are like minded?
DH: I can really say that we are bringing a team of some of the greatest musicians in the world to St Petersburg. It is incredibly important for me that we share the same vision and energy.
There is an opinion that the public is St. Petersburg is very conservative. Daniel Hope at the same time is considered to be one of the most 'informal' violinists today. Aren't you afraid that the conservators would not understand you? Is it important for you to be understood?
DH: I have performed almost 15 times in Moscow, but never in St Petersburg! Since I was a little boy it was a dream of mine to visit St Petersburg and to perform at the Phiharmonia. The Russian audience is very special – whatever their taste may be, they always listen with incredible dedication and interest. We will bring them wonderful music, and we hope they will enjoy it.
We are sure your performance will be very successful. We are looking forward to see and listen to it. Thank you very much for the interview. See in in the Grand Hall os the St. Petersburg Philharmonia.
DH: Thank you. I cannot wait!