The Tokyo-born, Montreal/New York-raised violinist shares her favourite recordings and the music she could live without.

1. Three pieces of music you love?

Brahms Clarinet Quintet

Schubert Winterreise

Sibelius Violin Concerto

Karen Gomyo, violinViolinist Karen Gomyo. Photo: supplied.

2. Three recordings everyone should own?

Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Jacqueline du Pré and Sea Pictures with Dame Janet Baker – two legendary artists and performances in one album!

Geminiani/Vivaldi Cello Sonatas with Heinrich Schiff – a shamefully underrated recording in my opinion!

The Complete Recordings of Josef Hassid – a precious gem of a true genius who died much too young.

3. Three musical heroes?

David Oistrakh

Plácido Domingo

Gidon Kremer

4. Three really underrated composers?

Benjamin Britten

Ernest Chausson

Fanny Mendelssohn

5. An underrated piece of music?

Schumann’s Violin Concerto

6. Three pieces of music you could happily never hear again?

Ravel’s Bolero, Pachelbel’s Canon, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

7. Your greatest concert experience?

Plácido Domingo as Otello at my first Met Opera experience in New York City when I was 11.

8. Your favourite films?

Vertigo (Hitchcock)

My Neighbor Totoro (Miyazaki)

Dead Poets Society

9. The piece of music you most wish had been written for violin?

Elgar’s Cello Concerto

10. Three favourite places in the world?

New Zealand, Iceland, and…. home!

11. Your proudest moment?

I had told myself all my life that I couldn’t play Paganini, and never touched it. Then I got an invitation to play a recital at the Dresden Festival a few years ago, but the programme was to be designed around Paganini. It was a terrifying process leading up to the concert, but the experience gave me a little boost that felt like a personal milestone.

12. An embarrassing or awkward moment?

When I was six I had a violin teacher who used to check my nails to make sure they were cut properly. Once he cut them so short that it hurt, and without thinking about it I flicked his bald head with my fingers. We all turned red, my mother most of all, probably…

13. What you do to relax?

Yoga, write, go tango dancing, learn to rehair my practice bow in the cozy corner of my bow-maker friend Isaac Salchow’s peaceful shop in New York.

14. Three guilty pleasures?

Staying up really late after everyone else has gone to sleep, ordering room service when traveling, watching Chopped or House Hunters in my hotel room (I otherwise never watch TV and don’t have one at home!)

15. Three living people you would most like to meet in a bar?

Roger Federer

Beyoncé

Barack Obama

16. A historical person you’d like to go on a date with?

Pablo Neruda

17. The fictitious person you would most like to have as a next-door neighbour?

Willy Wonka

18. Six people (real or imaginary) you would most like to invite to dinner?

Stradivarius, François Tourte, Shakespeare, Goethe, Einstein, Mozart

19. Your favourite food?

Sushi!

20. If you weren’t a violinist, what job would you want?

Something in education, charity or environmental work that would continue to take me around the world and contribute to the betterment of people’s lives.


Karen Gomyo performs a solo recital at the Sydney Opera House August 6, with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra August 25 – 26 and with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra September 1.