27 April, 2023

Rudolfínum stage as the first step to the future of our phenomenal young violinist, Boha.

Thriving Thursday - Boha-Thriving Thursday - Boha-Boha NEW WEB correct-100

We all have dreams - some come and go, whilst others stick with us for years, driving us forward. Boha's childhood dream of participating in the world-renowned international competition for young violinists, nicknamed "The Olympics of the Violin," the Menuhin Competition, has become a reality. Her phenomenal talent and dedication have helped her win numerous international competitions and awards over the years, including first prize at the Singapore International Violin Vestival Competition, the Ishikawa Music Award in Japan, the EuroAsia International Competition, and many more. Last year, at the age of 16, she performed at the Dvořák Hall in the Rudolfínum Concert Hall and the largest Concert Hall in South Korea.

Having lived in South Korea, the US, and now Prague since 2021, Boha will soon be moving again to attend her dream university, Curtin Institute of Music, where she was accepted being amongst only 4% of candidates accepted each year.

We spoke to our Year 12 student, Boha about her journey as a violinist and how it feels to perform on stage.

When did you start playing violin?

When I was little (I was six years old), I loved reading books. My mum and I used to go to the library almost every day to borrow new books and we got to know the librarian whose daughter played a violin; she had an old violin, a small one, that she couldn't use anymore. The librarian gave it to us for me to try it and that's how I got to play a violin for the first time, and I really liked it.

When I was younger, I had a lot of activities. I was interested in sports and other instrument; I loved ice skating and playing the piano. But when I got the violin for the first time, I really thought:

”Wow, this is incredible, the sound is so beautiful”

The fact that I could create different sounds and see how the sound changes, based on my mood, feelings, and my thoughts, really made me interested and I wanted to listen to it every day. It's a very difficult instrument, but when I perform on stage, it's the most beautiful moment.

What has been the biggest audience you performed in front of?

The biggest stage I played at was also my biggest concert, which happened last year; there were two big concerts. The first one was in the Czech Republic in Rudolfínum, the Dvořák Hall, where I played J. Sibelius Violin Concerto.

Week after this performance, I went to South Korea, Lotte Concert Hall, and performed the same repertoire. It's also the biggest concert hall in South Korea. It's very different from the Dvořák Hall, which is quite antique and the hall in Korea was more modern.

Does the type of hall affect your performance?

Each concert hall has different acoustics, so that might affect the performances, and also the humidity is very important. For example, if the hall is very dry, the violin might sound scratchy. The two concert halls that I've played last October, were perfect.

How did that make you feel, performing on such stages?

Amazing! I had a big orchestra behind me - it was incredible. While I was playing, I was happy and couldn't believe that I was performing in this beautiful hall with such an amazing orchestra. I was also excited that I could deliver my music to so many people who came to see me. I worked hard to make the most beautiful sounds, especially since the hall was quite big. I had to focus on making a great projection of sound so that people sitting at the back could also be 'touched'.

How do you focus on delivering the best performance?

It’s psychologically demanding, and concentration is very important because the piece goes up to 40 minutes. When I play, I have to think about each note and care about it to the end of the sound. Those tiny moments are very important as well.

Keeping concentration up for the whole piece is necessary because if I use all my energy for the first movement, I would have difficulties continuing throughout to the last movement. Normally, the last movement is very powerful and fast.

What would you say was your biggest achievement so far?

I think I have two significant achievements.

"Firstly, placing fifth at the Menuhin Competition, which is the biggest junior competition in the world for junior violinists."

My family and I moved to Prague in February 2021, which was right in the middle of the competition. Everything was new for me, so it was very challenging to prepare for the competition. I had to find a good pianist, a hall and a good quality videographer who would record my performance. Thankfully, I met a good teacher, Josef Špaček, right after we moved to Prague, who helped me a lot. So, it all worked out very well and I became a prizewinner.

"Secondly, I got accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. It’s a prestigious music school where only 110 students are attending, with 4% acceptance rate."

So, it's really difficult to get in, and many great musicians studied at this school, some of whom are my favourite musicians. These two achievements were my biggest childhood dreams.

What is your dream or goal now?

I want to become a violinist who can tell stories through music. I want to be someone whose music is enjoyable, and people come to my concerts and have a great time. It’s very satisfying to see people enjoying my music.

What was the biggest challenge that you’ve had over the years?

Sometimes, it’s a challenge to prepare many repertoires in a limited amount of time. But my teacher really helps me and encourages me a lot. Specifically, If I have to learn quite a few pieces to play in front of people, I spend much more time with the violin, practicing. Preparation is always difficult.

Did the school support you in any way?

When I have some free periods between classes, I can use the practice room freely, which is very helpful. The teachers always ask me how it's going and encourage me. Also, my friends here come to my concerts, and they always support me. All those people are amazing, and I love it.

Do you have a special memory that you cherish and think of when you don’t feel motivated?

I'm more motivated by the future. I imagine how happy I would be if I achieve my goal. For example, when I was preparing for university, there were times when I felt depressed and didn’t think I was good enough. During those moments, I imagined myself at university, enjoying school life with other musician friends around me, and that helped me to keep working hard.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to play the violin?

Many people say that musical talent is almost everything to become a great musician. But talent, isn’t enough. Having the persistence to practice every day is truly necessary. Also, being able to pour all your heart and emotions into the music when you play is crucial because the audience can feel your emotions through the music.