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Desire to play violin began in childhood

Kati Debretzeni wanted to play the violin since the age of four and now she performs internationally with classical and Baroque orchestras. She performs with the Victoria Baroque Orchestra Friday (Jan. 10) at St. Andrew’s United Church. - Photo Contributed
Kati Debretzeni wanted to play the violin since the age of four and now she performs internationally with classical and Baroque orchestras. She performs with the Victoria Baroque Orchestra Friday (Jan. 10) at St. Andrew’s United Church.
— image credit: Photo Contributed

When Kati Debretzeni was four years old she wanted to play the violin but her mother wouldn’t let her.

“I wanted play the violin because a neighbour of mine had begun playing the violin at six years old, so I wanted to do the same thing,” Debretzeni said. “My parents said ‘absolutely not in this house,’ and I wanted to.”

Eventually, Debretzeni’s mother told that if she was still interested in playing the violin when she turned six, she would allow it.

“I think my mom saw at that point that she should at least give me a chance,” Debretzeni said.

Since that fateful decision, Debretzeni has gone to study music in Israel and perform in the United Kingdom.

On Friday (Jan. 10), Debretzeni will be performing with the Victoria Baroque Players at St. Andrew’s United Church in Nanaimo.

“There are some pieces there that we are quite sure that we have never performed before,” she said. “There are going to be lots of firsts and we are hoping for a very interesting program with lots of turn out.”

Debretzeni was born in Cluj, Romania and grew up in a family of musicians.

“My whole family, great grandfather onwards, were all musicians. So, there wasn’t much choice really.”

Although Debretzeni comes from a very musical family, she said they never pressured her to pursue music as a career.

“They had absolutely no expectations of me doing music,” she said. “In fact they were actively opposing it from very early on.”

When Debretzeni was 15, she moved to Israel where she attended a music academy. After graduating from the academy, she relocated to the United Kingdom to pursue classical music.

“I got into early music, and with early music there wasn’t that much to do in Israel,” Debretzeni said. “So that’s what brought me to London, to study early music.”

The Romanian violinist was initially invited to Canada from the United Kingdom to perform with the Victoria Baroque Players by her fellow British colleagues.

“It’s great to be playing with my musical colleagues and friends, either from England or those who are here from Vancouver Island,” she said.

Debretzeni will also be holding a public workshop with the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra, where she will be coaching younger talent.

“It’s the best thing that a musician can do to better themselves,” she explained about teaching younger musicians. “You get and learn a lot from young people.”

“You get a lot of curiosity and energy,” she added. “The music that we are going to be doing is by an Italian composer is a very energetic beat.”

Debretzeni said the scenery on Vancouver Island is very inspiring to her as an artist.

“The scenery is outstanding here,” she said. “it is inspiring for music making because you don’t have to look out the window to get metaphors to how you want this movement to go or that movement to go, and that’s really inspiring.”

Debretzeni splits time between Vancouver Island the United Kingdom, where she is part of another orchestra that performs various styles of classical music. Members of the orchestra often play a handful of different instruments and have to know the different pitches and ranges.

“We perform a lot of wide spread of music and we’re trying to do everything on the appropriate instruments,” she said. “One day you could be doing something by a very early Italian composer and the next thing you might be playing Mozart. At the moment that’s the greatest challenge, staying on top of all the changes.”

Debretzeni said the travel between the United Kingdom and Vancouver Island also makes it difficult for her to raise her daughter.

“The other challenge that I can think of is raising a child while being a musician,” she said. “I was Skyping with my four-year-old. That’s the probably the biggest challenge and only when she grows up and becomes a mature human being will I know if I succeeded or if I failed.”

Kati Debretzeni and the Victoria Baroque Players performing at St. Andrew’s United Church in Nanaimo on Friday (Jan. 10), at 7:30 p.m. For more information, please visit www.victoria-baroque.com.

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