March's Young Artist: Sarah Velasco
By: Neapolitan Connection Staff
Sarah Velasco is a young and talented Canadian violinist
who has won top prizes and scholarships provincially and
nationally. A six-time laureate of the Canadian Music Competition,
she has performed with noted ensembles such as Toronto
Sinfonietta and Orchestra London. Sarah also runs a blog,
and was also featured as a model on Bo Bartlett's Galilee
painting in New York. Sarah was the grand prize winner of
Young Masters of Classical Music in 2012, and was invited
as Neapolitan Connection's guest young artist in a past
Toronto Centre for the Arts concert production. Now studying
music in the U.S.A., we got in touch with Sarah to be updated
on her current musical life and endeavors. Read our interview with
Q: What made you decide to pursue music professionally?
SV: I started playing the violin at a young age and entered local violin competitions
at seven years old. I didn’t take music seriously until much later but I remember
that there was something I loved about being on stage even then. Though at that
age I didn’t enjoy practicing, I loved performing and I never felt nervous. Even
today, I still feel the same way about nerves. To me, there is just something
comforting about being on stage. I decided to attend University of Toronto for
journalism at 16 years old, and after that I decided to pursue music professionally.
Q: Can you relate one of your most memorable performance experiences?
SV: One of my most memorable performances is when I soloed with an orchestra for the first time. I was 12 years old and I performed Zigeunerweisen by Sarasate. It was a pretty surreal experience. There is something so special about soloing with an orchestra. It is such an emotional experience and unlike anything you can imagine.
Q: Which musicians or music composers would you love to meet if given the chance?
SV: If I met a musician (or two) from the past it would be David Oistrakh and Jascha Heifetz. Probably most violinists would give exactly the same answer but with good reason! Oistrakh had such a wonderful sound and stayed so true to the music, while Heifetz gave such brilliance and had such a distinct, personal sound. I would not just like to meet them, but lessons from them would be nice too, haha!
Q: Who or what inspires you the most as a musician?
SV: What/who inspires me the most are wonderful musicians, friends and family, and life experiences. I’m always inspired by violinists who play with personality and emotion. It makes me want to be at a higher level every single day. The support of friends and family, especially my mom, makes me a better musician. While life experiences, the ups and the downs, really help me tap into the emotional part. It helps me relate and better understand the music I’m playing.
Q: Do you have other interests or pursuits besides music?
SV: Besides music, I’m a blogger. I was a guest writer at a fashion publication in Toronto and left when I went to school in the U.S. After I left the magazine, I decided to create my own site and blog on all things related to music, fashion, beauty, and food. Everything I love in one place. I am really fortunate that I have made relationships with some amazing companies over the past five years, so I often feature really neat products on my site and have a really amazing fan/ reader base. I’m extremely grateful for all the loyal readers I have gotten over the past few years. I’m also a huge foodie and I love to try new restaurants and new types of food and I have been planning on getting into yoga. Apparently it’s also great for musicians. Unfortunately, the yoga mat I bought has been under my bed for over a year, unused…haha
Q: What do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
SV: In 10 years from now, I hope I’ll be out of school (ha-ha), and by then I also hope I will be traveling and performing all around the world.