We're back! It's been a long time since I interviewed one of us but we're back and this one is extra special because, due to lockdown restrictions easing, this interview was actually done in person! I know! Nothing like a good Pret lunch outside the Royal Festival Hall and the unexpected downpour to restart our Graduate Interview series again!
My guest this week is Lithuanian violinist Auguste Emilija Janonyte. Throughout her career thus far, she has successfully participated in more than 20 National and International Violin Competitions and performed solo with professional orchestras in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and the United Kingdom winning the prestigious Young Musician 2011 International Contest for Pianists, Violinists and Cellists in Tallinn, Estonia and in 2019/20 was part of the English National Opera Evolve scheme. With an electric personality and fantastic knowledge of Pret coffee, it's my pleasure to welcome Auguste to the series!
How have you found life since you graduating from the Royal College of Music?
It has been a rollercoaster! It has been a weird experience having graduated in July 2020 but not having the celebration that goes with the even. We just received our document in the post and that was it, we were off into the real world - into an industry that didn’t quite exist. It was an interesting start but it has been very enlightening in many ways. There was time to find myself and to see what I really enjoyed doing music wise, which made a change from being told what to perform in college. For example, for me it was Musical Theatre! The pandemic has given me a change to really explore the world of musical theatre. I never knew I would enjoy it this much but it’s now one of my greatest passions. So, hands down to Corona, I’m pleased that’s what has come out of it.
What have been the main highlights of your career since graduating?
Since graduating, I have made my West End debut in December 2020 and again in May which is amazing that we’ve had the opportunity to do that in a pandemic. It was for a show called “Roles We’ll Never Play” where performers sing songs outside of their casting bracket. For example in December we had an 'All-Male' rendition of “Ex-Wives” from the musical Six and Alice Fearn sang Santa Fe from Disney’s Newsies. It’s been an incredible show to be apart of and there’s nothing like performing on the West End!
I have really found myself as a teacher. Teaching as a student, I’ve found is really different to teaching as a fully qualified professional – and adult!
Lockdown has been tricky for all of us – what is one lesson that you’ve learnt from lockdown that you’d like to take with you?
You can’t plan everything!! You can have a five-year plan that will completely shatter. I hoped having graduated in July 2020, to have a trial by then out of the auditions I was supposed to have had before they were cancelled. But now it’s almost a year later and we haven’t got auditions to apply for to get trials*. So, it’s been a real eye opener that you can’t plan! You have to go with it.
*Interview was taken on May 11th
Many of us have upped our teaching hours whilst performing gets back on its feet but it’s often viewed as a lesser career path. What do you think should change in order to correct this way of thinking?
I think a lot of things have already changed since the beginning of the pandemic, because everyone I know is trying to find somebody to teach. Teaching became the only way to keep earning an income. Those of us who were mainly teaching might have been frowned upon initially but when the pandemic hit were actually the only people who could continue to work, earn and survive best during this pandemic.
So, do you think this has been a wake-up call for the egos of musicians who are all too quick to dismiss teaching?
Absolutely! I think it will only get better. For example, those parents who didn’t push musical education for their children have actually found instrument lessons a way to really keep their child motivated throughout lockdown. I think there really has been a shift in peoples once misguided attitudes towards teaching!
Have you tried your hand at anything new during this lockdown?
I have yes! I have always loved cooking but as you know, working musicians don’t always have time to cook so now I’ve started really enjoying getting back into the kitchen and cooking homecooked meals! I have also found time to pursue my other interest of photography. So during lockdown I purchased a film camera and I’ve been going around taking my lockdown rolls which is a great way to capture how life was at a certain point.
Will you continue these hobbies do you think?
I think I will yes! Or at least, I would like to!
What is your top tip for the first year our of education?
Have expectations but don’t feel trapped by them. Don’t put pressure on yourself to hit them by a certain point, you’re not in control of that. All you can do is do your best and work hard. That’s all any of us can do!
Auguste it's been wonderful to have you with us! If you would like to hear more about Auguste as we head out of lockdown follow her here on Instagram.
I hope you have enjoyed this fortnights blog, please don't forget to get in touch, share and spread the word about the Graduate Series or "From A Cellist's Perspective" in general. My guests and I love busting the lid on misconceptions or the fears felt in our wonderful industry. It would be great to help and include as many of us as possible but I can only do that with your help!
Until next time,