My Top 5 Picks for Contemporary Female Violinists
I don’t know whether you agree with me or not but I believe the violin creates the best music when you want to cherish your loneliness. I like to listen to the violin very much, I even have a top 5 list of violinists. This list consists of 5 women violinists across cultures and countries. In this article, I am going to share some anecdotes on how I discovered these musicians.
(1) British Violinist Vanessa-Mae
Vanessa-Mae Vanakorn Nicholson is a British violinist known simply as Vanessa-Mae (?? Chén Mei). She was born on October 27, 1978, to a Singaporean mother and a Thai father, but she was adopted by a British citizen and was raised in England. She began playing violin when she was 4. My discovery of this talented violinist was accidental. Several years ago, I joined a music club so that I could buy world music at discount prices. I heard her play a song that was very popular during my teenage years. In fact it was one of my favorite pop songs and hearing her play it brought back a joyful memory for me. The name of the musical piece was “Classical Gas”, which was composed and originally performed by Mason Williams. When I heard her play it, I became an instant Vanessa-Mae fan. So I bought some of her albums to add to my music library. Her album sales were so phenomenal that in 2006, she was considered one of the wealthiest entertainers under 30 in the United Kingdom. Ms. Mae calls her musical style “techno-acoustic fusion.” I call it mind-blowing!
(2) American Violinist Karen Briggs
I was introduced to Yani by my late husband and also the new age genre of which Yani belonged. I was also introduced to Ms. Karen Briggs through my husband while watching a recorded concert by Yani.
Ms. Briggs is also known as the “Lady in Red”. She was born on August 12, 1963, in Manhattan, New York. She was blessed to come from a family of musicians. She started playing the violin at age 12 and at age 15, she decided that she wanted to play professionally. I had never heard of this virtuosa until I watched her solo performance on Yanni’s Live at the Acropolis concert. I could say she was splendid or even magnificent. But if you saw her perform you would say the compliment was insufficient. She toured with Yanni for thirteen years. Her latest performance was in 2019. She was invited to perform in Iraq and she was the only woman in the ensemble. Unfortunately because of COVID-19, her 2020 live performances have been canceled until further notice.
(3) Irish Violinist Máiréad Nesbitt
In America, we are fortunate to have a PBS station (Public Broadcasting Service) which airs most of the Celtic Woman concerts. I love these remarkably talented female singers. Their voices are magical, even heavenly. Máiréad Nesbitt (pronounced like “parade” with an “M”) does not sing. However, this adorable violinist appears as a solo violinist at all of Celtic Woman concerts. Her parents are both music teachers and all of her siblings are musicians. She started playing when she was six. The NY Times describes her as “A demon of a Fiddle Player.” I know they mean that as a compliment. However, I think the best word to aptly describe all of the performances that I have seen is … electrifying! She lights up the stage and literally dances all over the place while she’s playing. Fans are encouraged to follow her Twitter feed (@MaireadNesbitt) to keep up with her activities.
(4) American Violinist Lindsey Stirling
My youngest daughter told me that it was impossible for me to say that I liked female violinists and not know about Lindsey Stirling. So I looked her up on YouTube. OK! So now I can say that I like female violinists. Ms. Stirling was born on September 21, 1986, and attended junior high and high school in Arizona. She is not only an excellent violinist, be she is a composer and a dancer.
According to her true life story, she said in an interview with NewMediaRockstars, an online magazine which shines a spotlight on successful YouTubers, she said she had to choose violin because her parents could not afford to train her on both violin or dance, which she wanted very much. She chose the violin, i.e. her parents paid for and supported her violin playing. However, when it came to being a dancer she didn’t give up her dream. It’s just that her parents didn’t pay for dancing lessons. Her YouTube music videos are enchanting; especially the Christmas videos. She started her YouTube channel in 2007 and she presents her very own choreographed violin performances. The YT channel is the best way to keep up with her.
(5) Lebanese Violinist Hanine El Alam
Once again my late husband gets the credit for discovering this jewel. He was searching for either Arabian music or Arabian artists (another hobby) and found Hanine El Alam. Exotic. Exciting. Exhilarating. What not. Hanine El Alam music is ethereal. In a 2017 article published by Scene Noise, she is described as talented and diverse…performances are dazzling, spectacles, magnetic, larger than life…music a blend of Latin, Arabic, and techno.
The magazine says it all. I could not have said it better. For more about her, she has an official website and you can find her on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Do you have a favorite female violinist?