Soho Classical meets Iskandar Widjaja

Iskandar Widjaja doesn’t line up with the image of a musician on the classical music scene. As the ambassador of a new generation he simply can’t be pigeonholed as representing a particular genre. In his new project “Mercy”, Iskandar Widjaja presents a broad musical spectrum with a closely interwoven thematic structure, summarising his latest achievements and opening a new phase of his life. See his video for “Mercy” below:

When did you start playing your instruments and why? When did you discover your interest in performing?

I started out age 4 with the Suzuki method. My mother brought me to a childrens concert, where I saw little violinists, and after I begged her to buy me one. The arts are deeply rooted in our family. My grandfather was a famous composer, who wrote bhuddist temple songs, which the whole country uses for Tai Chi practise. My uncle is a conductor, we even go on tour together with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra in November.

What is your favourite piece of music for the violin?

Right now I would have to say “Eneril” from my brang new released album “Mercy”, which I recorded in collaboration with the mongolian singer URNA CHahar Tugchi, an extremely cultivated and spiritual woman, who grew up in the mongolian steppe and sings my arrangement of Bachs Aria ” Erbarme dich” or “Have mercy” from St.Matthews passion. This music could be described with an existential outcry of the human soul. Urna and I become one instrument, when we perform it. I’m a fan!

Describe your musical style in 3 words.

Eruptive, innovative, introspective

Tell us your first memory of London.

My violin maker Florian Leonhard, who is also a violin dealer, has his shop in West Hampstead, so I usually take an easy jet morning flight from Berlin, and an afternoon flight back. My first memory was visiting his shop, because he was lending me a precious Stradivari violin built in 1734 for my important debut with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra playing Mozart. I was so incredibly excited to hold this piece of history, worth many millions of dollars in my hand, when I first touched the strings with my bow, it was as if the sun were rising. Unforgettable.

What is one piece of classical music you couldn’t live without?

Probably the Chaconne by Bach, it contains all possible human feelings and nuances, a whole world of emotions and is like a deeply satisfying madness, which exhilarates me. Music is the best drug there is, no doubt.

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