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Interview: Elena Korableva
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
One day I climbed up an old wardrobe to get my great grandfather’s garmon, which was covered in dust for many years after my great grandfather’s passing. It is a Russian button accordion-like instrument, popular in rural villages. My favorite show at that time was “Helen and friends”; I really wanted to play that melody and I tried to do it by ear. My great grandmother heard me and told my mom that she should take me to music school. We found one nearby that taught piano but I wasn’t accepted because of my “old” age. Shortly after we received a call from a cello teacher at the school and she wanted me to study with her. My music lessons then began.
If I hadn’t followed the music path, I would have gone to an art school — I really love drawing.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I like drawing, going for walks, reading and talking to people. The beauty of the world inspires me to create and share music.
How long has music been your career?
I started when I was twelve, and I knew then that it was my calling…so more than twenty years now!
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I live in Boston and it is a wonderful place. I love that it is a small, vibrant city, full of musicians, artists, and scientists. The location makes it easier to go to Europe or Russia for visits and performances. I like that New York, New Hampshire and Maine, where I often perform, are very close as well!
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
When I was sixteen I attended a summer festival in Russia. I was learning a piece by Tchaikovsky and my neighbors had to hear me practice day and night. Before the final concert they told me that they were really looking forward to hearing it, but fate decided otherwise. I was very nervous; I went on stage, sat down and started tuning. At that moment the tailpiece gut broke, and since it was holding everything in place on the cello, everything fell off my instrument. There was a loud pop and a moment later the strings were all over the place, while the tailpiece and the bridge were on the floor. And I am still thinking how on earth am I going to play. Then I got up, bowed, and left, so my neighbors never got to hear my performance.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I would be happy to go back to Carnegie Hall, which was my most favorite hall to play at! I would like to go back and perform in Russia — I haven’t been there in a long time.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Freddy Mercury, Jordi Savall and Silk Road Ensemble. I am not sure how this would work out though, as they are so different! But these great musicians really inspire me.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Practice. Find a good teacher- this is very important. Listen to good music. Don’t let anybody put you down and discourage you from pursuing your passion.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I would tell myself that “I love you”, and that one day in the future I will be releasing my CD and will be able to make a living being a musician, and that I will continue to enjoy practicing my cello. I would be very inspired to hear that!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
They all mean a lot because they connect me with my roots and my home. But the one named Alfiya is very special, because that was my great grandmother’s name. I really love her and miss her a lot. She was the one who sang those songs to me and introduced me to music through her singing. This is also the only song on the album that is not based on any folk songs; totally from scratch.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
Currently my inspiration is Tatar Folk songs, I remember them from childhood. I pick one and start arranging it for the cello, think of the best harmonies and then I let my imagination take over. I try what sounds good to me, record and then come back several times. And eventually there is a piece!
I think my next project will be something else. I like different kinds of music and I have many inspirations and interests: tango, folk tunes, movie music, chants…
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
For this particular album, it is very important to me to share the music of Tatar people. I believe that bringing the unknown music from this fascinating region will enrich the universe of ethnic music. My hometown Kazan, a beautiful city located on the Volga River, is more than a thousand years old and rich in history and folktales. Music is an important part of the lives of Tatar people; it reflects their customs, history and national identity.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
I play a lot of chamber music and it is very important to keep a respectful environment. I don’t remember having any problems so far. We share our opinions and try to listen to what everyone has to offer. I like experimenting, and it is good to hear someone else’s perspective.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
December 3rd, 2021 is a big day for me! That is the release date of my debut album. I am very excited and nervous! https://www.instagram.com/elena.cello/?hl=en https://www.facebook.com/musicyacht/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIzC88ZUzhfO4H_AEuVES3w