Violinist Mikhail Simonyan’s career has taken some exciting turns since 2011, when he last toured with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic, or the Baltic Sea Youth Philharmonic as it was then. As well as performing concertos with leading orchestras around the world, he has created and led a youth orchestra in Kaluga, Russia, and become president of the Moscow-based cultural and educational foundation Open Sea. For an artist still in his early thirties, such entrepreneurial credentials say a lot about his character and charisma.
Mikhail shares a natural talent for leadership with Kristjan Järvi, one of his closest friends and collaborators. The two have worked together often since meeting in 1999, notably partnering for the violinist’s 2011 Deutsche Grammophon recording of the Khachaturian and Barber concertos. ‘Kristjan is like no other conductor,’ says Mikhail. ‘There is a freedom about his way of making music that I love. The whole process of rehearsing and performing is so alive with him.’
The violinist finds a special freedom too in Glass’s Violin Concerto No. 2. The music’s repetition of themes and phrases offers huge opportunities to create a singular interpretation, he says, but that same freedom makes the piece challenging: ‘In a way it makes your soul quite naked, because people can judge what kind of person you are by how you shape the music and play the phrases.’