Mihkel Kerem, composer and violin soloist
Mihkel is the leader of the Brandenburg Sinfonia (London) and section prinicipal in Camerata Nordica (Sweden). In the UK he regularly plays with the London Chamber Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the John Wilson Orchestra. I caught up with Mihkel between our rehearsal and concert last Saturday where he played Korngolds Violin Concerto in D major.
ESO What book are you reading at the moment?
MK I spend a lot of time travelling between venues and quite often it gives me an opportunity to just relax so at the moment I’m not reading anything.
ESO What’s your favourite midnight snack?
MK A pork pie
ESO Do you have a poem or piece of music that touches your soul?
MK There are so many I could choose, the 2nd movement of the Korngold is a favourite but if I was only allowed one piece of music to listen to for the rest of my life it would have to be Mahler 9.
ESO What is the prized possession you value above all others?
MK The violin would be the first and obvious choice. I’ve had this violin for about 6 years, it’s Italian and was made in 1710. However my other prized possession would be my Chesterfield armchair. I travel so much with work that for me spending time at home is like a holiday and my Chesterfield is just the perfect chair to relax in.
ESO Is there a conductor or orchestra you particularly enjoy working with ?
MK Brian Northcott and The ESO (of course)!
ESO Do you have a favourite venue to play in ?
MK De Montfort Hall in Leicester, built in 1913 it’s acoustically excellent.
ESO Who is the person who has influenced you most?
MK There are 2 people who have had a great influence on me, the first was my music teacher Levon Chilingirian and the second is also a teacher Gordan Nikolic. They gave me an appreciation and understanding that there is so much more to playing music than just learning the technical skills, it’s also about you as a person.
ESO What is the one piece of wisdom you’d pass onto your 16 year old self?
MK Don’t regret anything – it’s all experience and if I’d changed anything in my past then maybe I wouldn’t have had some of the good opportunities I’ve had in my life.
ESO What is the unfulfilled ambition that haunts you?
MK I don’t have an unfulfilled ambition as such but I always have dreams and my dreams for the future are just bigger.
ESO What is the ‘pet hate’ that makes your hackle rise?
MK Most of my work tends to be on a Saturday and I’m usually rushing to get to a rehearsal or concert and it seems that everyone else is ambling around and getting in my way because of course for most people it’s their time off.
ESO Messy or Neat Freak
MK I love to be tidy and neat but don’t seem quite able to achieve it by myself. Luckily my wife Lara is a neat freak.
ESO Who is the most famous person in your phone contacts?
MK A well known conductor who has also been incredibly pro-active in encouraging young people to take up music.
ESO Football or Rugby?
MK Neither – I’m not a fan of any organised/professional sport.
ESO What would you call your autobiography (you can’t call it ‘Last orders at the bar’ Miles our Chairman will be using that title!)
MK In that case it would have to be ‘Does it Really Matter?