Artist Interview: Aliya Vodovozova
Aliya Vodovozova has been awarded top prizes in both solo and chamber music competitions including the 2nd prize at the Carl Nielsen International Chamber Music Competition in Copenhagen and 1st prize, ‘Ton & Erklärung’ competition in Germany with the Pacific Quintet. In 2020, she took part in the CD recording (Deutsche Grammophone) with world-renowned violinist Daniel Hope after participation on his Arte TV series “Hope@Home”. She began her education at Moscow Gnessin School and thereafter entered the Moscow Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in 2010, where she graduated with the honors diploma, studying under Professor Alexander Golishev. In 2015, Aliya began her studies for the Masters degree at the Hohschule für Musik ‘Hanns Eisler’ Berlin, in the class of Benoit Fromanger. In the 2017/2018 season, she was playing as member of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra. Equally in demand as orchestral flutist she has played in select concerts as soloist with orchestras including the Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra and Bilkent Symphony Orchestra.
Can you give us 5 career highlights?
•The first time I played as a soloist with the orchestra, in Ankara “Bilkent” (where I started my musical education) after wining a music competition called “blue bird” in Crimea. Having my elementary school friends screaming my name to support before I play was something else :)
•Final of the Carl Nielsen Chamber music Competition in Copenhagen with the Pacific Quintet. I remember playing and feeling so full of emotions and being at one with 5 people. It is one of my most memorable moments in my musical life with my beloved Quintet.
•Meeting legendary Sofia Gubaidulina for her birthday in 2020 in the house where she lives was one the highlights in my life. She is incredibly wise, luminous, full of harmony, a powerful woman composer. I admire her.
- Durng the pandemic where we all struggled/struggle so much I was so lucky to be in invited by the great violinist Daniel hope to participate in his show “Hope@Home” where I represented different countries. I even read a poem by my favorite poet Nazim Hikmet. Daniel Hope supported so many musicians during this hard time and invited everyday new musicians to motivate them and showcase them to the public.
- Another highlight in my career was playing with the incredible Renaud Capucon and finest musicians of our generation in the festival “Nouveaux Horizons" that took part in the wonderful hall of Aix-en-Provance. The idea was founded by Renaud Capucon and Gerard Causse to support 10 composers + 10 young musicians. We played from Mozart to premiering works by talented young composers.
How about 3 pivotal moments that were essential to creating the artist that you've become?
I remember being 12-13 years old and moving from Turkey to Moscow for studies. I was accepted to the Gnesin Music School, where the famous Russian teacher Yury Dolzhikov influenced me to move to Russia. I was living alone, renting a room with a family because the dormitory was under construction). That was kind of challenging when I look back, but at that moment it seemed totally normal for me.
I think this was one of the key moments when I started to feel “grown up” and it built my personality. The level in the school was very high and everything was new for me: the language, culture, study program; but I adapted myself quite quickly and now I have very warm memories from the years I spent in Moscow.
Another important moment was moving to start my bachelor's education in the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. The Gnesin Music School was giving me a lot of discipline, but the Tchaikovsky Conservatory gave me freedom and I started to understand what I really wanted in life.
And the 3rd pivotal moment was the first master-class that I played in Europe, it was in the amazing Musique Academy Villecroze with Benoit Fromanger. Via video recordings, there were 10 flutists chosen to participate in this masterclass, everyone was coming from different parts of the world. I was so impressed by every player and their musicality. I realized that I would like to continue my musical journey in Europe.
What do you like best about performing?
What I love about performing is the chemistry and communication that happens between the audience and the musicians. You play and can feel the magic in the air. It’s an incredible feeling when you can have a dialog, listening to each other without words, just through the music. What I also love is the preparation process itself and that feeling right before going on stage. I adore being able to do what I love. I believe that being a musician requires a lot of determination, discipline and as a reward, we get the stage and the audience that appreciates us.
This is a work in process. I have an idea that hopefully will be released soon. Last year I took part in the recording of “Hope@Home” CD with Daniel Hope by Deutsche Grammophon. In 2016 I recorded Suiet No. 2 by J.S.Bach with the Russian National Orchestra with "Pentatone” records. I also played an arrangement for flute and chamber orchestra of the “Children’s Album” by Tchaikovsky with the Hermitage Chamber Orchestra when I was in high school.
What does your schedule look like for the next 6 months?
For the moment, everything is still very fragile because of the pandemic. There were many plans that had to be postponed or cancelled. For now I am looking forward to playing a premier of a flute concerto written by the young composer, Heinrich Lategan, in February 2022. As well as another tour of Japan with the Pacific Quintet in the summer. I love Japan.
What are your goals personally? Professionally?
Personally to be always in a good balance in everything, I am quite an emotional person and I would like to learn not to take everything so personally. I would like to be able to accept situations, to always stay motivated and to always have a goal :). I see many great people around that inspire me and who motivate me to be better! I love playing solo, chamber music and sometimes in the orchestra. I just love playing music, so professionally my goal is to be able to do it as long as possible :) Our profession is a little similar to the sports, we have to be in a good shape to keep up, and for this we need determination and practice everyday…
What inspires you the most in life?
Everything! It can be a movie, a painting or even a great food :) Often I am inspired by people who do they job with love. I am inspired by women who support other women instead of competing. Also, I love friendships that can make you feel that you are understood. I adore the fact that despite diversity, we all can still find a common language. And of course music inspires me the most, because I feel all the emotions through it…
What has been your professional greatest challenge?
My biggest challenges have come via competitions and people who are judgmental. Participating in a big competition can be very dangerous. I had a burnout after one competition where I didn’t feel very comfortable on stage. It can happen. Now I have learned that the most important thing is to stay true to yourself. You can’t be liked by everyone. This is not the goal. Some people will look to the painting and will find it beautiful, some will say that it is very bad. It is difficult to be objective in musical tastes as well. What is important is to always improve, and be your better self, and not to compare yourself with others.
What has been your personal greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge was adapting myself to the new country at the age of 12. One hand I felt that it was absolutely normal, and on other, I understood that it was challenge for me. And of course 2020 was deeply challenging, when many of us didn’t know what to do when everything got canceled, and we couldn’t motivate ourselves to practice.
Who were your music mentors? and what did you learn from them?
My first teacher in Turkey was Albena Petrova, who was from Bulgaria originally. With her I did my first steps and started to study in Ankara, it was one of the first music schools for kids in Turkey. Later with the reference of Yury Dolzhikov, I moved to Moscow and studied with Maria Chepurina. At the Tchaikovsky Conservatory I studied with Alexander Golishev who was solo flute in the Bolshoi Theather. Another big influence was Philippe Bernold, and I moved to Paris to study with Pascal Feuvrier for almost a year. I decided to do my master's degree in Germany with Benoit Fromanger in the Hochschule für Musik "Hanns Eisler".
I also remember being a small girl in Moscow and listening to the master class of Sir James Galway who was my childhood hero ( I grew up with his CD’s). After the masterclass I went home to practice for 7 (!) hours in a row which doesn’t really happen when you are 13 :) ) I was very inspired.
I have learned many things from each of the teachers I have studied with and whose Masterclass I have attended. Collectively, they have helped me create my point of view and be more free when I play. I remember my masterclass with the great, Andrea Lieberknecht . She so generously took the time to work with me and made me realize many things in my playing. She helped improve so much.
Can you give us 5 quirky, secret, fun, (don't think too much about this) hobbies or passions?
I love languages. I truly love learning languages (German is the hardest so far). I have translated and published 2 books (fairy tales for kids) from Turkish to Russian and from Russian to Turkish. I realized that I am not a bad cook when I was in quarantine. I think I am good at imitating people :))) maybe I should try acting school? :) I love writing. I write something like diary, not everyday, just some highlights. I like to jot down motivating notes. I love playing piano, can’t say I am very good at it, but if I see a piano in the place where I practice, I will always go and play a little also piano. But I really can’t say I am good, I just enjoy it a lot.
What 3 things would you offer as advice for a young flutist?
To stay true to yourself, don’t compare yourself to others and have passion & patience.