Cutting edges of violin playing
Last week we wrote about Malwina Sosnowksi and her adventures in Brazil. When she returned to Switzerland she found herself within 10 days ending up booking a flight to New Delhi and heading off to beautiful India. This time as a backpacker and attached to it, an old and modest but playable violin inside a very moderate but light violin case, both perfectly fitting her violin playing plans for the coming two months.
Getting used to crowded and colourful India
“My first impressions in Delhi were rough. Thousands of people, mostly men, some Indian women, and no tourists. Chaos, traffic, poverty, dirt, smells and animals of all kind: It all stroke me at once and with no mercy. Nowadays I appreciate the experience, but at that time I had to adjust and decide how to confront things. I headed to some of the main tourist spots and took some time to digest my first impressions in the hostel I’ve settled myself in. I had to plan further steps into beautiful India more precisely, I decided. A friend of mine was visiting Varanasi, and I was determined to head off to this spiritual centre nearby the Ganges river in the coming few days as well, I hoped to escape the masses and chaos of Delhi.
Bach at the station
“During this period of the year, it happened to be 45 degrees Celsius in the shadow throughout the afternoon. One of these days we decided to head to the train station for a musical encounter. It was a rather obvious thing for me to do, to bring my music to people here, and somehow I felt that violin playing would be very welcomed in India. So I stood in front of the cities main train station and unpacked my instrument, then introduced myself and started playing.”
“The music was followed by listeners with their smartphones, a common way of communication and following tourists in India, and people were curious and attentive. I was amazed! Even more so, when, during the collect, 60 rupees came together. The money was locally re-invested when we took a riksha back to the city centre later that day. I got accustomed to India and slowly learned to enjoy the exchange with people and their spirituality.”
Yoga, Meditation and Music
Malwina ends up in the Ashram in Rishikesh called ‚Parmarth Niketan‘. There she attends an intense Yoga and Meditation 10-day course – a welcome variety and extension of her trip. The days turned out to become strongly woven through with music from and with Indian musicians.
“The Meditation classes included daily chanting in Sanskrit. These can be sung repetitively (Mantra) or as a single prayer. The calmness and melodies of these chanting started to accompany me and fulfil me with peace. The Yoga turned out to reinforce my physical condition, and a couple of days later, I got in touch with Dileep Kumar, who is leading the musical activities at the Ashram for many years. We met up for an eye-by-eye improvisation first, he then invited me to assist in one of their daily events on the violin, where I was improvising and enjoying the views of a dancing, clapping and singing crowd.
“It was a highlight to improvise within this group of Indian musicians, playing these beautiful old melodies and becoming part of the group for that evening at last.”
Musical and spiritual highlight
“My musical highlight was when I got invited to play in the Ashrams daily Ganges ceremony, the „Ganga Aarti“. We quickly met up to set the improvisations and Dileep Kumar, who is leading the musical activities, introduced me to the melodies of the evening. The ceremony started, the highest leader of the Ashram held a speech. There were hundreds of people, and a drone was filming the event. They took me to the centre of the ceremony, and suddenly, microphones were held all over me – I was improvising on a melody, staying on my own. The sunset, the music, the speech and how I got caught by surprise: still an unbelievable moment to look back to.”
“I Freed my Playing from Boundaries”
“This journey gave me what I was seeking for – a new view on other parts of life as well as a better feeling for what I sincerely care for. These days I am able to plan my activities in a healthy and more productive way. Another nice side effect is how inspired I came back from a musical point of view: I look at my violin from a different angle, while playing I seek for moments and (inter-)action. I improvise parts of pieces or think of pictures and emotions I’ve been through and apply them to my violin playing. I am freer to just stand in front of crowds and play, or to interchange with other musicians and cultures, I’m eager to get to know these to free my playing from boundaries. I believe that these insights get delivered strongly to the public – because this way playing becomes more of an authentic storytelling than a delivery.”
Next year in February, Malwina and her ensemble Nuance will release a Vinyl record with modern and recently composed pieces by Jannik Giger and his teacher Dieter Amann, supported by Swiss National Radio SRF2 Kultur. Click here for updates.
Contact Malwina personally.