By Lindsey Turnbull
Andrei IoniÅ£Äƒ has been described by The Times as “one of the most exciting cellists to have emerged for a decade”, having won a clutch of international awards for his talent, and, in particular, first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2015. In 2016, Andrei was named a BBC New Generation Artist for 2016 to 2018. Cayman Arts Festival goers are privileged to hear the music of this talented cellist for themselves on Saturday, 3rd February, when he will be playing at the Camana Bay Cinema, starting at 6pm.
Born in 1994 in Bucharest, Andrei began taking piano lessons at the age of five and received his first cello lesson three years later. He studied under Ani-Marie Paladi at the Iosif Sava Music School in Bucharest and Professor Jens Peter Maintz at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, where he currently resides. He has already performed concertos with the Münchner Philharmoniker, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Mariinsky Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien and Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, working with some of the world’s top conductors.
In this exclusive interview with the Caymanian Times, Andrei gives us some insight into what motivates such a great talent. Discussing why he chose focusing on the cello, he says:
“I started with the piano at the age of five. Three years later I switched to cello, after the suggestion (or, dare I say, inspiration) of my piano teacher. I can say that I fell in love with the instrument from the very first lesson. I was really attracted to its warm and rich sound, very similar to the human voice, in fact. It's a choice I'll never regret!”
Practicing and working hard is a way of honouring the talent with which he has been gifted, Andrei states.
“I know I have an artistic voice and that my music can touch people's hearts. Of course, striving to have a successful career is very exciting, but at the end of the day, what keeps you going is the desire to always improve and get as close as possible to the untouchable artistic ideal,” he says.
Winning the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Russia was a defining point in his career, he advises.
“It opened so may doors: I got to play on big stages in London (Wigmore Hall), Munich (Gasteig), Berlin (Philharmonie) and Vienna (Musikverein), most of these concerts at the invitation of Maestro Valeryi Gergiev, who is also responsible for the artistic direction of the competition,” he explains. “I've performed several times in Korea, Japan, USA, and I've played as a soloist with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mariinsky Orchestra, DSO Berlin, Bayerische Rundfunk Munich, Tokyo Philharmonic, and the list could go on.”
Andrei says he has a very exciting USA tour coming up this April, starting with concerts with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and followed by some recitals across the country, culminating with a debut recital in the renowned Carnegie Hall, NY.
He confirms that he has never ventured to the Caribbean, so he is excited at the prospect of visiting the Cayman Islands. He says while, of course, he loves being on stage, a place where he feels the most at home, he’s also looking forward to helping out music students with some advice.
“But I am also looking forward to spending some wonderful time at the seaside and exploring the islands!” he confirms. “I would just like to say thank you very much to Cayman Arts Festival for the invitation and to the readers out there, please go and support the great cultural projects they are organising throughout the year!”