Marking ten years of the LGT Young Soloists

Ten years ago Alexander Gilman, violinist and teacher, brought together fifteen of his young, accomplished musicians to form an ensemble for an LGT client event. The students were initially only scheduled to perform on this one occasion in Vienna, but the concert blew the audience away, and the rest is history. 

string musicians stood against wood doors

The LGT Young Soloists has a unique concept: exceptional young musicians perform as soloists with their own orchestra, accompany each other and share their passion for music.

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the LGT Young Soloists, the youthful orchestra embarked on an extensive world tour, commencing in Germany in November. To mark the anniversary, and their world-wide success, we have interviewed Alexander, artistic director of the celebrated ensemble, and one of the young soloists, Elif Ece Cansever. They share insights into their journey, challenges and memorable moments over the past ten years, as well as their aspirations for the future. 

Alexander Gilman, Violinist and LGT Young Soloists Founder

You’ve been conducting the LGT Young Soloists for ten years now. The last decade has no doubt been both intensive and instructive for you...

Absolutely. And on various levels. Musically, I have learnt how to motivate young and inexperienced musicians to give their best with very little rehearsal time. Away from the stage, I have learnt how to manage the entire project from an organisational point of view. Flights and hotel bookings, rehearsal schedules, programme planning, communication with parents and looking after minors on tour – I didn’t have to worry about any of those things before. Now they’re part of my everyday life. 

And your orchestra line-up is continuously changing. How do you deal with that as a conductor?

While it can be a bit tiring, the constant change is also very exciting, because we regularly get to welcome new musicians who provide fresh momentum. You have to plan more time for rehearsals, and the newcomers need one-on-one coaching. But with a little patience and time, the process of integrating into the orchestra is usually a smooth one.

What are the main differences between leading a youth orchestra and conducting an established "adult orchestra"?

Adults have to come, they want to keep to an exact schedule, they are inflexible and often don’t have the same passion that young musicians have. My Young Soloists burst with passion during every rehearsal and every concert. You probably won’t experience that kind of energy if you watch a professional, adult orchestra perform.

You have performed all over the world – are there any concert locations left on your bucket list?

Carnegie Hall in New York is a dream of mine. This year we performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington – so we’re slowly working our way up (laughs).

And what do you wish the LGT Young Soloists for the next ten years?

Ten years ago I would never have dreamt that we would one day be considered one of the best youth orchestras in the world. My dream is to continue to do this work and to be able to offer this unique platform to the next generation of young musicians.

Elif Ece Cansever, Violinist and a member of the LGT Young Soloists since 2020

What has been your best experience with the LGT Young Soloists so far?

One of my fondest memories is our performance at the Konzerthaus Berlin in August 2021, shortly after the COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed for the first time and it was finally possible to perform live again. Standing on that very prestigious, historic stage and playing Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons” in front of a sold-out audience – that was a very emotional moment. I will never forget that concert.

What do you find most challenging about being part of the LGT Young Soloists? 

Every concert is a challenge in itself. Because in addition to being soloists, we’re also chamber musicians and orchestra musicians. We all have to be able to play in many different ways and adapt to each situation. As a soloist, you perform your own interpretation of a piece. As a chamber musician, on the other hand, you have to develop a common understanding of the piece together with your colleagues. So communication and teamwork are important. If you accompany other soloists, you have to listen carefully to the soloist and react to all their interpretations and musical ideas.

What would you like to do after your time with the LGT Young Soloists? What are your dreams and plans?

That’s a really difficult question. As long as I’m a musician, there’s no right or wrong. I’m convinced that success is founded on happiness and joy – and when I make music, I’m always happy. So I want to keep all my options open. We’ll see what the future holds for me.

Further information about the LGT Young Soloists can be found here.

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