Sonig Tchakerian is a violinist of Armenian heritage who has been awarded prizes at important competitions: the Paganini in Genoa, the ARD in Munich and the Gui in Florence. Her discography includes recordings with prestigious labels such as Universal, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Arts, Amadeus, Audiophile Sound and AS Disc. She has performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, Bayerischer Rundfunk of Munich, Verdi Orchestra of Milan, Pomeriggi Musicali, San Carlo of Naples, Arena di Verona, Solisti Veneti and the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, playing under leading conductors who include Bellugi, Gatti, Janigro, Oren, Rustioni, Scimone and Tchakarov. Artistic director since 2019 of the Settimane Musicali al Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, a festival where she has been able to create intense, innovative experiences encompassing classical music, dance, electronic music, jazz, poetry, drama, sacred texts, and premiere performances of new compositions. Ambrosini, Bacalov, Boccadoro, Campogrande, Dall'Ongaro, Mosca, Peroccoand Sollima have composed music specifically for her. As Professor of Violin in the Master Courses in Music Studies at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, she is a passionate and generous teacher of violin performance.
Sonig Tchakerian teaches a Light Course in advanced violin, masterclasses at the Musica d’Estate summer campus in Bardonecchia. As part of our section A Career in Music, we interviewed her to ask what advice she would give to our students, who are set to become the future generation of music professionals.
What were the key experiences that marked your development and training as a musician? At what time of your life did they take place? Why were they significant?
I have been very lucky because I was taught by great maestros. My first teacher was Giovanni Guglielmo, from when I was 7 years old. And then I studied at the Accademia Chigiana with Franco Gulli, in Zurich with Nathan Milstein, and in Cremona with Salvatore Accardo. Truly great violinists, all very different from one another, all with a boundless passion, curiosity and respect for music. Teachers who were generous and held back none of their secrets. They gave me a great education in music and in life.
Can you describe one or two turning points in your career? What impact did they have on your career? Why were they important?
The prize I won at the Paganini competition in Genoa in 1980 was the first real step on my career path. Not only because it changed the image that others could have of me, but also because of the great responsibility I felt, all on my own shoulders, at receiving this first recognition at an international level. Subsequently, I won prizes at the ARD in Munich and at the Gui in Florence.
Often our mistakes teach us important lessons. If you could go back in time in your career what would you do differently?
I would practise more! In my opinion practising is the best thing you can do, both for your instrument and for your soul…
Along a musician’s career path there are always many important decisions to be made and these often depend on and result from the opportunities that are offered to them. What helped you to stay focused and not to lose sight of your goals?
I have never lived my life solely for my career and I don’t know that I have always been clear-headed in evaluating the opportunities presented to me. On the other hand, I am a mother, I have two wonderful children, and I’ve had to sacrifice some things in my career because of this. But that doesn’t mean that I lost sight of my goals; I simply made those choices. Thanks to my children I’m a better and happier person, and I love my violin even more.
Apart from studying with great passion and dedication, what advice would you give to young musicians who are starting out on a career in music?
Never give up on your dreams. Believe in yourselves and don’t lose your self confidence or courage in difficult times. Remember that as musicians we are privileged and that every day that we are given to live is a marvellous opportunity.