Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Soloist Profile: Boxianzi Vivian Ling in Conversation with Christian Baldini

Boxianzi (Vivian) Ling is joining us with the Camellia Symphony Orchestra to kick off our Season 57, performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto on a program that also includes Borodin's Symphony No. 2, and Nicole Lizée's Zeiss After Dark. 

Christian Baldini: Hello Boxianzi, it is a real pleasure to have you with us as our featured soloist for this concert in Sacramento. Please tell us about the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and why it is an important piece to you personally. What is so special about it that captivates you?

Boxianzi Vivian Ling: The Tchaikovsky violin concerto to me has always been my favorite violin concerto. I can remember the first time l heard this concerto, as soon as the opening violin theme comes in, I was instantly drawn into the music. The first recording that I listened to was actually played by one of my older studio mates while I was still in the second grade. The piece seemed so difficult that I thought it would be impossible to play. The concerto then became a major goal for me in my development as a musician. When I started to learn the piece, I felt like it was so familiar as if I already knew how to play it. Out of all the major violin concertos (Brahms, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn), the Tchaikovsky to me has the most beautiful melodies. I also really love the orchestration because it interacts with solo violin throughout the whole piece, especially at the end of the finale when the dialogue reaches a climax. As an artist, this piece offers me amazing amounts of freedom to express multiple emotions and feelings. I feel like this is one of those pieces that allow for a wide array of interpretations. 

CB: Please tell us about your background and your childhood. When did you become interested in music, and where did you grow up? Did you ever play another instrument besides the violin? Was there someone who was particularly important in your upbringing, who was an inspiration to you and helped you become a musician?

BVL: I was born in Changsha, which is the capital of Hu' nan province in China. My dad was a big fan of classical music and my mom would bring home lots of DVD recordings of the Berlin philharmonic, Vienna Phil concerts. So from an early age, I was constantly listening to symphonies. Before my fifth birthday, my dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I asked him for a little violin and he got it for me. I started taking group lessons on the very next day. Both my parents would come with me to lessons and my dad basically learned violin for the first year. I remember he would be the metronome and tuner at the same time while he practiced with me. My dad has great ears and would always tell me when something didn't sound right. My parents were very strict. If I didn't practice for my lesson my dad would not come with me to the lessons and it would only be my mom driving me on her motorcycle. Soon after changing a couple of teachers, I then decided to move to Shanghai to continue studying at the primary school affiliated with the Shanghai Conservatory. My parents were left behind in Changsha because they needed to work, so it was my Grandma that came with and lived with me in Shanghai. I spent the next seven years there learning, studying and practicing. I met my teacher Wei He who was a professor at SFCM and he offered to teach me in the US while I finished high school in Marin county. While growing up I also taught myself how to play the piano, which comes in handy when I study accompaniment parts. My favorite violinist when I was a little girl was Hilary Hahn.  

CB: What are some of your favorite past times or hobbies? What do you do outside music?

BVL: Ping Pong. I was really good when I was a little girl. I was an absolute machine. It was either violin or ping pong. I haven't played since I quit years ago. Now I enjoy spending time with my two cats, eating amazing food all around SF and photography and yoga. 

CB: What are those pieces that you would take to a desert island? And perhaps more generally, who are your favorite composers?

BVL: The big concertos that I love are Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. If I had to pick one composer's works to bring to a desert island it would be Mozart's.

CB: You have obviously accomplished a lot already, playing chamber music, as a soloist, as concertmaster of the SF Youth Orchestra, and developing your own voice. And where would you like to be in 5 or 10 years? What would you like to be doing, or where?

BVL: I would love to be playing in a major orchestra. I currently sub for the SF symphony. I recently played Mahler 6 with MTT and it was a very special experience in my career. I also learn a lot and enjoy teaching. So I can also see myself having a violin studio wherever I am based. If I am lucky enough I would love to continue playing solo concertos with orchestras. 

CB: What would you recommend to a young musician starting out? What is some good advice for someone who would like to become a professional musician?

BVL: I would tell a young musician to push yourself and work hard but not any harder than it needs to be to achieve your goals. And never lose your own voice when playing music. because the beauty of music exists within your own interpretation. 

CB: It's been really wonderful to have the chance to know more about you and your upbringing. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent and dedication with our audience, and I very much look forward to our performance together!

BVL: Thank you so much! It is such an honor and pleasure to work and perform this concerto with you and the Camellia symphony Orchestra.


Boxianzi (Vivian) Ling,  Violin

Boxianzi was born in Hunan, China. She started playing violin at age 5, and was accepted into the prestigious Elementary School Affiliated to Shanghai Conservatory of Music at age 9. She was featured on China National TV broadcasting playing Mendelssohn violin concerto when she was 12. She has also soloed with Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. Entering the professional spotlight,  Boxianzi made her debut with the San Francisco Ballet, with Maestro Martin West, on April 2017, performing the Prokofiev violin concerto. She currently subs with the San Francisco Symphony, performing alongside MMT and other sf symphony members.

Other notable accomplishments of Boxianzi’s career has been winning the Young Artists Concerto Competition with Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra in 2012,  winning the Parnassus Conservatory Youth Competition in 2016, and claiming first prize in the 2018 San Francisco Conservatory of Music violin concerto competition.

She was the concertmaster of San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra from 2014-2016 and participated in the SFSYO European tour where she played in the Berlin Philharmonie and the The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She is currently a Junior student studying with Professor  Ian Swensen and Chen Zhao at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She previously studied with Professor Wei He at San Francisco Conservatory.

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