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Daisy Jopling, The Classical Musician As Rock Star Savant Interview: “I am passionate about exploring new worlds of sound”

You probably think that, hey, Daisy Jopling, the violinist impresario performing Pete Townshend material is the place to start when you want to enjoy the artist’s music, but try the glorious Key To The Classics from 2008; the woman is too adventurous to remain with the classics only, but the glory of Ms. Jopling performing Vivaldi and Mozart in such nontraditional arrangements is a reward beyond words.

Or do both. If you don’t know Daisy Jopling, take a deep dive into a sound not soothing as much as life enhancing, a gloriously deep sound, pulsating with life, that Ms. Jopling takes all over the world as an ambassador for musicianship and children.

Perhaps Jopling’s greatest achievement isn’t directly musical, it is the Daisy Jopling Foundation which brings mentorship by international musicians to the youth of the world, takes away barrier of cost to attending concerts, and music-programs for children. Sadly, the President Of the Foundation, her husband Joe Brown, passed on in May 2020. Jopling, who seems incapable of seeing life as anything less than an opportunity to give back, created The Joe Brown Music Scholarship Fund (here) in his honor.

Ms. Jopling’s searching finds her in Egypt right now, readying herself for a concert at the Pyramids Of Gaza in November -a rare honor; she will be performing in the Lebanon at some point but way before either show, back to home base New York City for a return concert at Chelsea Table And Stage on July 9th… here the honor is ours as the opportunity to see the great violinist in such intimate surroundings is a true joy; she will be performing her The Who tribute album, Who’s Who (tickets here).

I forwarded some question, really, though Daisy is too young for it, she might want to think of an autobiography, as a set of questions is woefully inadequate to giving you an accurate portrayal of the woman. She travels the world bringing joy to people everywhere: when you rip the veneer of tribalism from our makeup, what is left is Ms. Jopling uniting us all through art and beauty. Here are my questions and her response. Thank you, Daisy.

Thank you for agreeing to the interview!

My great pleasure Iman, thank YOU!

The surprise about a three year old playing on a musical instrument is as much the toddler having the concentration to play it as access to the instrument itself. Were your parents all musicians?

Yes, I agree with you! I was really lucky that my parents were big supporters of music education for their children. We had no TV, we didn’t go to sporting events, and we pretty much ate our food from our garden. My parents were not professional musicians, but they spent all their money on our music education. Apparently when I was three years old I told my mother I wanted to be like my aunt Louise, who was a professional violinist and an amazing violin teacher. Initially my mother gave me an oblong tissue box and put some rubber bands on it, just to see if I seemed to be serious! She told me I plucked away, and she decided to get me a violin and a wonderful teacher, Olive Cox. My aunt Louise lived two hours’ drive away from us, but she ran wonderful music camps in the holidays which I adored. They really kept me going on the violin. To this day I’m still very close with Louise, she is my Godmother and lifelong mentor.

Where did you study till the age of fourteen when you performed at the Royal Albert Hall?

I studied with Olive Cox, then Frederick Grinke, who was a really amazing teacher. I would go to the house of my teachers, my dad drove me about an hour each way to my violin lesson with Frederick Grinke!  

The experience of performing at the Royal Albert Hall was life-changing for me. I remember feeling sick with nerves about a week before, but the moment I walked out onto that stage, it was as if the music just flowed through me and I was able to let go. In that moment I realized how much I love performing and connecting to the spirit which joins us all.

After that, you were studying in three conservatories, was this a prelude to Triology?

Yes. I started at the Royal College of Music in London, which is an amazing institution, but my inner creative spirit somehow needed to break out of the classical mold. I decided to take an improvisation course at the Guild Hall School of Music in London run by Peter Renshaw and Peter Wiegold, which changed my life. It introduced me to ways of finding my own inner creative voice. This was a prelude to the creative string trio Triology, which was all about playing different styles of music other than classical, and crossing boundaries that had never been crossed by classical string musicians. It was a terrifying and yet incredibly exhilarating journey. I was studying at the Vienna Conservatoire with Boris Kuschnir, and that is where I met Aleksey Igudesman and Tristan Schulze, the other two musicians in Triology. After we played two concerts in tiny cafés in Vienna, for about 20 people each concert, unbeknownst to us the A&R for BMG was at the second concert. He asked us to sign to BMG, and a 13-year career of touring around the world followed.

You spent 13 years as a part of Triology, a creative strings trio, visually you looked like a rock band and musically a classical ensemble with Hungarian and jazz parts. What was going on for you during this time?

Our initial rehearsals with Triology leading up to our first two concerts in small cafés in Vienna were emotional rollercoasters for me. I was delving into parts of my deep creative spirit I had never touched, and I often left rehearsals crying, feeling I could never find my own original voice. It felt like everything I tried to do sounded like bad Mozart because since three years old, I had only played and listened to classical music. But something inside me was driving me to keep going. Aleksey and Tristan are both incredible creative musicians, and together we felt unstoppable. I will never forget the night Marcus Spiegel asked us to sign to BMG. Even though I had a powerful desire to be more creative, and I knew I didn’t want to play the same music as thousands of other violinists, that night I realized I could actually make a career of being a creative musician. This was a door that had not even occurred to me. I couldn’t sleep that whole night. Once we signed to BMG, they marketed our music around the whole world, and we started touring the world. Of course every step of the way we were still faced with challenges of how to bring our new and revolutionary music to audiences, but it was an extraordinary and exciting journey. And our inner soul’s journey always has our next challenge around the corner!

Did Triology feel like an open ended attempt to widen what a string ensemble was?

Yes! With Tristan and Aleksey, there was always the next creative adventure. In the creative process, there is often not a definition that one is reaching for, it is more an inner unstoppable search which never ends.

After Triology you toured the world (again) with many world class musicians, was this you expanding your reach? 

Yes, I will probably do this for the rest of my life. I am passionate about exploring new worlds of sound, rhythm, and energetic resonances. By this, I mean for example the resonances of the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Right now I am extremely moved by the energy I feel when I am next to the Pyramids, and I am creating a show which will be performed at the Pyramids on November 4, 2022 which will be based on the extraordinary energetic resonances I feel when I’m there. It is an honor which fills me with joy to learn about different musical cultures, and to perform with the greatest musicians from cultures around the world.

By the time you reached “Key To The Classics” you were visually hardly the old school classical musician, was the urge to glam up old school?

Haha! No. My creativity always comes from a place of wanting to express my inner truth at that moment. I was feeling excited by the music of this fantastic Producer Bojan Dugic, and I was also completely in love with the classical music pieces I chose for this album. But I needed to express that music from where I was, coming from the old and yet stepping into the new.

Are you seeing what you can add to your sound and remain a classicist extant?

In a way, yes. My childhood was very sheltered, my family felt that classical music was the best music for the development of a child’s brain, so we did not really listen to any other music in our house apart from a little jazz. So classical music will also always have a very deep place in my musical world. And yet I will always be on my creative journey. 

Considering your gifts with the fiddle, have you considered bluegrass

I love that question! I absolutely adore Bluegrass. Maybe one day I will play it. I just follow where my musical love takes me. Right now it’s with Egyptian music.

The album of Who finds you more interested in the rock opera Who than the can’t explain band… Why the Who at all?

When I first came to live in New York, I literally had never heard of The Who. This was due to my very isolated upbringing, my family lived in a house in the middle of the countryside, and really focused on classical music. My fans in New York couldn’t believe that I didn’t know The Who, and they suggested I learn Baba O’Riley. As I played that song for the first time, I felt an unbelievable sense of freedom, I was able to absolutely let rip on stage. It was as if I’d been waiting for this my whole life! I felt such a deep connection to Pete Townshend’s music and lyrics, that I decided to record a whole album of his music. I particularly loved the spiritual message I felt behind the Rock Opera Tommy, so I took many songs from that album.   

What would you care to share about the Daisy Jopling Music Mentorship Foundation… 

Ooh, I am so glad you asked me that! Earlier in this interview, I have mentioned moments which were life-changing for me. New doors which were opened. This is what we give the students who go through our programs in our music mentorship foundation. Instrumental music students often only learn classical music, and we give them the opportunity to start finding their own voice. They learn different styles of music with us, and improvising and songwriting. They perform with world-class musicians on major stages. We also give students free tickets to attend our concerts, and we send our artists into schools to perform. All these experiences are deeply transformative. We also fund a free after-school violin class called Arts 10566 Ovation Strings for students who wish to learn but cannot afford lessons. Over the last 11 years we have served over 8,000 children in our programs and helped to transform the music programs in our local school district.

With Irradiance you are moving firmly into rock fusion, what can we expect from you show?

Irradiance was an eclectic, uplifting, full orchestra show produced by our foundation which mentored and featured 94 students! Here is a short video.

Also, your July 9th show at Chelsea Table And Chair has you performing Who’s Who… can we expect a harder sound? 

Even when we play The Who it is fun, beautiful and powerful – I would not describe our sound as a hard sound. I was just at a Who concert, and they are now traveling with an orchestra. Their sound is definitely softer than before! Somehow we are coming together… Here is the ticket link.

At the Pyramids you are following in the footsteps of Grateful Dead and Sting, do these huge shows excite you specifically?

Those artists excite me, Sting especially is a huge influence for me, but I am most deeply influenced by Yanni’s concert at the Pyramids. It is my biggest dream to play concerts at sacred sites which bring together artists from around the world, whilst giving children and young people these life-changing and empowering experiences. 

Is there a dynamic between being a child protegee and teaching children. Is it like mathematics where, at some point, you can either do it or not do it? 

There is definitely a dynamic between the incredible gift I feel I was given with music in my childhood, and wanting to give that gift to other children.

I believe that anything is possible. Where there is a will, there is always a way. If we want to learn something at any age, we can. But learning an instrument as a child is an amazing opportunity to stimulate the mind in countless ways. And I believe the healing gift of self-expression and creativity is ultimately important in the way forward for our whole human kind. When we empower ourselves to understand that we can create whatever we truly love in our lives, we do not need to try to control others.

As a woman with a wanderlust, how did it feel to sit down during the pandemic?

Oh, it was pretty tough!! I went through a lot. As well as all my concerts being canceled, my husband transitioned into his next soul’s adventure, so I was left with what seemed to be my only option, to connect deeply with my inner bliss. I became very interested in learning about different levels of consciousness and energy, and I was also given the opportunity to produce five concerts with my band on a little island in the Hudson River called Bannerman Island, which was absolutely magical! We were the only ticketed musical event allowed in the whole of New York State in October 2020. We illuminated a ruined castle on the island, and produced this wonderful concert film which was on PBS (here).

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