Anastassia Boutsko from ICMA Jury member Deutsche Welle has made an interview with Serbian violinist Lana Zorjan, winner of the 2024 Discovery Award.

Lana Zorjan

You are just fifteen and already a seasoned musician who can look back on a great career: numerous solo appearances with great orchestras, major prizes… But how did it come that you are a musician?

That will probably sound almost too simple: I come from a family full of musicians. My parents are musicians, my dad is an opera singer, mother is a violinist, she’s a violin teacher. Both granddads are also musicians.

So, you had no other choice when it came to your profession – in general. And the choice of instrument – the violin – was also a clear decision?
To be quite honest, the violin was always a present. I always loved hearing the sound because, you know, as a kid, I wanted to do what my mother did. I started from very early age asking my parents: Can I play the violin? And at the age of nearly four, like 3 1/2, I got my first instrument, which was a really tiny violin. And you know: I just fell in love with it on the first sight!

You have just won the ICMA Discovery Award. You will also be playing at the gala concert in Valencia, which will be broadcast worldwide by Deutsche Welle… Isn’t it too much attention for you? Perhaps a young musician and young person like you needs peace and quiet to develop?
To tell you the truth: this award from ICMA and the gala concert are already the biggest step for me! I’m gonna try my best to make everyone proud. My focus right now is to improve as a violinist and as a person. Just to work on me and the instrument. Obviously, perfection is never there, you know you always have to search for perfection, but it will never be there.

They say, young people in your generation have a hard time consuming content longer than a 59-second or so TikTok video. Nonsense?
Every person is different.  I’m a really detailed person by nature, so I really like, you know, focusing on one thing for a long time. So for example, when I’m when I’m reading about some piece and I’m playing, I can actually concentrate on just reading what the composer meant to write for hours. And I mean literally for like 3 or 4 hours!
So to be quite honest – yes, I also have Instagram and I have social media. I like it because I have a lot of friends who are not from Serbia. My best friend is from Korea, for example. I think we all have to be careful not to get to a point of an addiction. We also have to be present in the real world and from the social media, you know, you can have a lot of false information. And it’s really important that we also have this type of learning by nature, which is books and for me, musical notes.

Lana Zorjan

How do you organize your day? How long to practice, to reverse?
As I said, I’m really like an organized person in general, so I like when I have an entire day planned beforehand. So, for example, I’m a student of university because I went four years earlier. I’m usually going to university around 7:00 in the morning to practice and then go to a class two or three depending on the day and then usually get back home like in the afternoon where I practice mostly and just spend time. For example, I have three cats – so I love to spend time with them.
Practicing I do maybe like 5 or 6 hours a day and I think it’s quite fitting for me currently because I can get everything done.

Which composers, what kind of music appeals to you the most?
From composers I really love Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Dvorak. I would say – those are my three favorites, because I just love the expression of emotions.

How do you work on a piece? Do you love the music and the composer in advance, do you listen to other recordings – or do you prefer not to? How do you build the story you want to tell with the music?
I always listen to many recordings to get some inspiration, but mainly at some point it gets to a personal interpretation that’s also connected to the composers original. I really love to know the exact meaning of the composer’s emotions while writing the piece, because it can give such a different interpretation when you actually know what the composer had in mind.
And I actually like to compose myself. I just finished a  piece a couple of days ago.

Do you have a big dream?
My biggest dream is just becoming an artist, who makes people happy. It’s such such an honor to be able to do what we do, to perform and to just make people happy with doing what we love!

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