‘Art has space for everything’, says Patricia Kopatchinskaja

kopat by julia wesely 1

She describes her violin as a family member, and her storyteller’s gift as an interpreter has won her artist residencies at the Lucerne and Kissinger Sommer festivals this year. Patricia Kopatchinskaja talks to Toby Deller about sound, vision and changing the world through music

In interviews it is Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s custom to have an electronic dictionary with her. At least, she had one the first time we met, in 2013, but this time, three years later, she frets a little when she realises she has left it behind. It cannot be because her English is uncertain. On the contrary, with or without the device, the Moldovan-born violinist makes herself very clear, speaking thoughtfully, exactly and fluently, even when she is speaking idealistically and fantastically. And it is this combination of care, creativity and individuality, traits that also characterise her violin playing, that suggest we ought probably to take her words as she says them.

Perhaps it is because she knows her ideas can be fantastical that she is cautious about being misunderstood or misrepresented and therefore wants to make sure she is using the right words. One thing is sure: for Kopatchinskaja, music is a serious matter. ‘I feel that our planet ticks its last hours,’ she says, ‘and it’s our responsibility as artists to speak about it, to say what we feel. This is why I got the idea for my Dies Irae project: we cannot go on like this for eternity. We have to stop, to protect our planet, to be conscious that we are damaging the planet. We artists have to say it, as loud as possible.’

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