Alexandra profile

TSF 44: Alexandra Soumm – Violinist, Co-Founder & President of the foundation Esperanz’Arts.

Alexandra Soumm is a French violinist and multi-faceted artist.  She is equally at home in concerto and chamber repertoire. Orchestras with which she has collaborated in recent years include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Philharmonic,  Orchestre de Paris, Israel Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, NHK Symphony, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, Tokyo Symphony and Helsinski Philharmonic and working with many distinguished conductors.

Alexandra Edited collage
If you could sit next to anyone on a plane who would it be and why?
I would love to sit next to Martin Luther King. Just to hear his voice and look deep in his eyes would be enough energy and inspiration for years… But it would have to be a very long flight, if possible! 

Where in the world do you feel happiest and why?
Wherever inspiring people surround me! But if I had to choose, I would say Rio de Janeiro. I love Brazilian culture, language and people, and I feel very touched by their philosophy of life (ok, and by their beaches too). 

On the other hand, Paris, where I live, is the most beautiful city in the world.
metimes I take long walks and get lost, and then it’s dark and you see the colours of the sky change in the water reflexion of the Seine. Paris is an endless discovery. 

What did you want to be growing up?
I wanted to be on stage, no matter what! So, if not for violin, it would have been cello, singing or theatre. I was also interested in art-therapy and psychology, but I think, being an extravert, stage would have won in the end.

 My alarm goes off and I….
… sleep in for another 30minutes or so. Then I wake up with tea, good music, a croissant with Nutella and the day can start! 

At work I’m responsible for…..
The composer’s wishes! 

Tell us a secret about yourself?
When I was a kid I practiced with Harry Potter books opened on my music stand turned back to the door so if my parents came in they wouldn’t see it…

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you most like to be stranded with dead or alive?
The pianist Ismaël Margain. We have been friends for five years now, and he makes life so easy no matter what. I think we would build a super-cool house and actually survive! Because he’s a nature lover, he would know what to eat, how to fish, or how to look in the sky to find the way with the stars. And he has humour, which we would probably need in that moment!

What do you like to do when you are not at work?
I love art and literature, so wherever I am, I try to go to art exhibitions, walk through the city, read and write at cafés. Also I love making dinners at my place with friends and listen to jazz with a glass of wine, followed by some poetry. So Parisian, right?

 Has your job taken you anywhere exotic?
I am lucky to have visited so many countries! I loved Georgia and Armenia, their wine and food culture is incredible, and the people are so wonderful. Japan is like another planet, Scandinavia is also extremely special. Each country really has its treasures. 

Top holiday hotspot?
Italy! Toscana especially. Best food, incredible heritage and divine little cities, each with a different atmosphere. A dream.

Name three items you wouldn’t travel without?
A good book, my phone and my curiosity.

 Film that inspired you?
“The Salt of Earth”, an incredible documentary about Sebastiao Salgado, one of the best photographers in history. I watched it five of six times and it has always made me cry and rethink everything I know about us as humanity.

Favourite artist?
Gosh, so many! Bernstein, Oistrakh, Chagall, Hugo, Pina Bausch… Artists who were not only incredible in their art, but also true human lovers.

 What is your biggest weakness?
My impatience.

Do you like to be complimented?
 would lie if I said no- but the compliment needs to be really honest. Actually, I love to be complimented about something I don’t expect :)

What book would you recommend to others?
“The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese poet.

 Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?
To let people go.

Do you have a high pain threshold?
I am lucky to have good health, so I hope to still have a few years before answering that question!

 ‘Sweet or Savoury?/ ‘Starter or Dessert?
Sweet and Dessert! I’m such a gourmande person… anything to do with chocolate and cream is always welcome :-)

 What is your greatest fear?
To be part of the mainstream mass. Mediocrity. 

What magazines or newspapers do you read?
Le Monde and L’Equipe as newspapers… and the French Cosmopolitan, each month for 10 years!

 Who should feature next as a Three Six Fiver?
Jennifer Stumm. An incredible woman and musician who founded the Ilumina Festival in Brazil- she helped so many young musicians by inviting teachers to coach and play with young disadvantaged teenagers, and is truly changing lives, with her vision and generosity.

 What should people look out for? 
Besides my solo concerts, I am lucky to run a non-profit organization, Esperanz’Arts: We are a collective of artists playing in homeless shelters, schools and hospitals, mostly within Paris and France. For four years our work has developed a lot and some of us are flying to Cambodia this month to play for 2500 children! Giving back to the communities and people in need makes us artists reflect more on why we chose Art, and it makes us play better, too. Feel free to join us as artists or supporters, we need people who want to make a change!