Much More Than Just Your Ordinary Fiddle Player

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Much More Than Just Your Ordinary Fiddle Player

"Why do celebrities always think they've earned some kind of privilege to be late?" grumbled one reporter.

The reporter and several other writers were waiting for the violinist Vanessa-Mae at a recent news conference at the Hilton hotel. Vanessa-Mae's publicist tried his best to soothe the irritated group of journalists by saying, "Vanessa-Mae was confused about her schedule."

After an hour of repeating the same excuse, the desperate publicist finally shouted in near-relief, "Here she comes! Ladies and gentlemen, Vanessa-Mae, a child prodigy who has become the world's most famous fusion violinist!"

Dressed in a blue-jean tank top, tight pants and wearing heavy make-up, Vanessa-Mae, 23, caused one male reporter to remark, "God, she's gorgeous." The man, perhaps intimidated, then kept silent until the news conference ended.

Vanessa-Mae has always been a performer who is ready and willing to make a memorable stage appearance. Clad in gaudy outfits, she looks more like a fashion model than a professional violinist. Her ultra-hip electric violin is made of transparent plastic. She is one of the very few artists to play such an instrument.

Fluent in five languages - English, French, Chinese, Spanish and German - at the news conference she moved easily from one topic to another:

?On appearance: "It's just a part of the package and I believe it did not lead to my success as a violinist. My fans will be more touched by my music, I think."

?On her new album "Subject to Change," in which she also sings. "I know that I have an untrained voice, but I feel a sense of freedom singing. I'm glad that I discovered a new part of me, but I am at the very beginning of my journey as a vocalist."

?On being a crossover artist: "I just get easily bored of doing just one thing. As a performer, I feel a kind of duty to find my own 'recipe' and do something new."

Born of a Thai mother and Chinese father on Oct. 27 in 1978 in Singapore, Vanessa-Mae shares a birthday with the legendary violinist Paganini. "I did not pick the violin, it was picked for me," she said. She moved to London at 4 and was introduced to the violin at 5 by her English stepfather.

She was trained as a classical violinist and her debut album as a crossover musician, "The Violin Player" (1995), sold more than 28 million copies worldwide. Her most recent album is strictly pop. Is she fed up with Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky? "No, I'm just pursuing two separate careers. I am planning to release another album, a real tribute to classical music. The difference is that when I perform pop, I am much more 'me.' I feel like I'm another person when I perform classical works; I just rearrange the masterpieces and hide behind my training."

Vanessa-Mae is scheduled to begin a world tour in September, and that tour will include a stop in Seoul. Her autobiography will appear next year.

Always willing to discover new styles - in clothes or music - her newest release is no exception. " I included everything from the percussion sounds of Tibetan Buddhist monks to a guitar virtuoso. I just want to put Western and Oriental things together."

by Chun Su-jin

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