When I met him for this interview, David Garrett had just landed after a flight from New York.
Dressed in a T-shirt, fashionably torn jeans and Hawaiian sandals, he looked more like a pop star than a classical musician. But the New York-based German violinist is that rare musician who straddles both worlds with ease.
His first album, titled Virtuoso, has topped the classical charts and the pop charts in Germany and has been equally well received by audiences of all ages in Europe, the US and Asia.
Garrett has already performed 50 successful concerts around the world this year and is being hailed as a superstar of the future in the classical/crossover genre.
He was in Dubai for a concert at Wafi City, organised by the Rivoli Group to celebrate the opening of the region's first exclusive Montegrappa boutique in the mall and the launch of
Montegrappa's latest collection of writing instruments called Genio Creativo. This series is inspired by art and the first limited edition pen in the series pays tribute to Antonio
Garrett was thus an apt choice to represent the spirit of the legendary lute maker at the unveiling of the Tributo ad Antonio Stradivari collection.
“I have heard a lot about Dubai and it seems like a place of the future. I am happy to perform here and hope to come back soon for another concert," said Garrett as he settled down for a conversation about his music and life as a musician.
How does it feel to be associated with Montegrappa's tribute to Stradivari?
I have been playing a Stradivari violin since I was 13, so it was natural that Montegrappa asked me to represent this creation dedicated to him.
A Stradvari creation is the most precious instrument you can play as a classical violinist and during my career I have had the privilege to play many Stradivari violins from different time periods.
The one I am playing now is from the 1700's, which was his golden period in terms of craftsmanship and sound quality and it is an honour to perform around the world in tribute to
him. There are only about 280 Stradivari instruments in existence and I am privileged to own one.
What drew you to the violin?
As the younger sibling, I always wanted to do what my older brother did. So, when he was forced by my parents to learn to play the violin, I wanted to do it too. My brother was forced to do it hence he stopped playing, whereas I chose to do it and am still playing.
How did you get a chance to play a Stradivari at 13?
At 11 I played at a concert in Bonn for the German president. He put in a word for me with a family who were collectors of Stradivari instruments and they loaned me a violin from their collection.
After performing at the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall and at other grand European opera houses, how does it feel to perform in a mall?
I have often performed at such venues, especially in southeast Asia. In the end, the music is the most important thing, not the environment. Once I start playing I do not
think about anything else.
What are the challenges of being a classical musician in today's world?
The biggest challenge is the travelling. I have already performed 50 concerts in different cities this year and will do another 100 by the end of the year. Being on the road
almost everyday makes it difficult to find time to practise.
Has your music been influenced by your travels?
Yes, I do try to integrate music from different places into my compositions. Last year I performed several concerts in Spain and that influenced me to use traditional Flamenco music in my version of Bizet's Carmen in my album.
How do you feel about being called “the superstar of tomorrow"?
I wish I had time to think about it — but it is probably good that I don't.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I come from a very traditional classical education. So, the most important thing for me is to deliver when I perform. Everything else is secondary.
Which musicians have you been inspired by?
There are many. I have been lucky to work with most of the musicians I admire such as Yehudi Menuhin and Ida Haendel.
What kind of music do you like to listen to?
I have a broad taste in music and listen to everything from rock to r 'n' b, jazz and house music.
Tell us about your next album.
All I can say now is that I will start recording my next album soon and it will be as interesting as the first, yet different.
Pop star of tomorrow
What factors contributed to taking your album Virtuoso to the top of the classical as well as pop charts?
“The album worked because it is an interesting balance between classical tunes and familiar tunes that I have rearranged in a more contemporary way," says Garrett.
“I have also included my own versions of rock classics such as Nothing Else Matters by Metallica, some film music and Broadway tunes."