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Interview

A chat with star violinist Arabella Steinbacher

Leading German concert violinist Arabella Steinbacher has won top international awards for her moving performances. Deutsche Welle spoke with the star ahead of her concert with the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq.

Arabella Steinbacher rehearses with Iraqi Youth Orchestra

Arabella Steinbacher rehearsing with the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq

In jeans and a dark top, Arabella Steinbacher looks like a music student on any university campus as she rehearses with the youth orchestras of Iraq and Germany. But once her fingers reach for the strings on her violin, it's clear that there's more to her. The bend on the index finger on her left hand and a red patch against her neck attest to long years of practice.

Steinbacher is in Bonn, rehearsing her solo in Beethoven's Violin Concerto with the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq.

'Inner peace' in a hectic world

Steinbacher broke onto the international scene in 2004 with the Orchestre Philharmonique of Radio France, and with the rise in international performances since, her life has become a lot more hectic.

Arabella Steinbacher and Paul MacAlindin in front of the orchestra

Arabella Steinbacher is happy to share the stage with Iraq's best young performers

"With all of the hype and media attention, I find that jogging and meditation help me find inner peace," she said.

Taking a step back into her own world allows Steinbacher to find the tranquillity she needs in order to perform without allowing the distractions get to her.

"These days we just get bombarded with things we really don't need, and you need to protect yourself from that in order to stay honest to the music," said Steinbacher while glancing at messages on her iPhone.

Inside the music case

Being in demand in concert halls around the world means a lot of travel for the performer.

"My violin case is my home away from home," Steinbacher quipped.

And like in any home, her case is full of family pictures - crinkled, dog-eared and squeezed behind her spare bow. A lucky charm from Japan hangs from the lock inside.

Steinbacher's mother is Japanese and a singing teacher, while her father was a pianist. She was born in Munich, where she still lives.

"It's always helpful when your parents also like to listen to classical music," she said.

Steinbacher's violin case

Steinbacher's 'home away from home' - her violin case

But growing up in a musical family can also have its drawbacks. She said she knows many families where the pressure on the child is unbearable.

For now, though, she is still excited about touring the world and producing music in the studio. She has no plans to stop any time soon and hopes that she will eventually be able to pass on all that she has learned to a younger generation of musicians by working as a teacher. Performing with the National Youth of Iraq at the Beethovenfest could be a small step in that direction.

When performing with orchestras, she usually focuses on the conductor, but her Beethovenfest performance will be an exception.

"I want to look at the other players' faces and show them what I'm doing," she said.

Author: Chiponda Chimbelu, André Leslie

Editor: Greg Wiser

DW.DE