Gwendolyn Masin is one of today’s significant concert violinists. She is celebrated for “setting first-rate standards in concert performance with her technically superior, refined, intensive and richly contrasting expression,” (Der Bund). Masin is descendant of a lineage of classically-trained musicians and remembers playing violin as naturally as having a conversation when she was a child. Her formative years were shaped by musical instruction, world travel, performing for audiences in reputable concert halls, and collecting accolades internationally — all by the age of five. At eleven she gained national exposure in Ireland after appearing on The Late Late Show. She has been a regular guest on TV and radio shows and has performed to critical acclaim throughout Europe, Russia, South Africa, the Middle East, and North America as a soloist with renowned orchestras and as a chamber musician.
Masin holds degrees with highest honors from the Royal Schools of Music in London, England; the Hochschule der Künste in Berne, Switzerland; and the Musikhochschule in Lübeck, Germany. Her teachers include Herman Krebbers, Igor Ozim, Ana Chumachenco, Zakhar Bron and Shmuel Ashkenasi. Masin began to actively cultivate her own style of violin-playing, her identity as an artistic tour de force, and receive numerous international awards and prizes while carrying out formal studies.
Not only is she an esteemed soloist and chamber musician, Masin also writes, transcribes music, and advises composers. Collaboration with contemporary artists is a large part of Masin’s repertoire. In an effort to make music more accessible, Masin commissions artists—closely working with them and performing their music or integrating their art form into her interpretations.
It is a disservice to all other facets of this modern-day Renaissance woman to regard her solely as a musician. Research and application of music methodology are an inseparable part of Masin’s undertakings. Her doctoral thesis from Trinity College examines the similarities and differences within 20th-century violin pedagogy. In 2009, the award-winning Michaela’s Music House, The Magic of the Violin was published by Müller & Schade. Authored by Masin, the book serves to instruct beginner violinists and will be translated into German in 2014, accompanied by the author’s personal exercises and compositions.
Presently, Masin teaches violin and chamber-music masterclasses at institutes and festivals throughout Europe and North America and gives lecture recitals and talks concerning her areas of expertise. She is Professor of Violin Studies at the haute école de musique de Genève, Switzerland, since September 2013.
Masin is also greatly involved in curating and producing music festivals. Most prominent for Masin is her role as Artistic Director of GAIA, an annual festival held in Switzerland, recognized as one of the country’s most important. It brings together acclaimed musicians for a long weekend of concerts and community. Masin also co-directs and produces the audio and visual media that is showcased as part of GAIA in collaboration with Naxos, the world’s leading classical music group.
The 2014/2015 season is a prolonged adventure for the concert violinist. She will perform the music of a Hungarian hero in Budapest’s Palace of Arts and Szombathely’s Bartók Hall, namely Bartók’s 1st violin concerto with the MÁV and Savaria Symphony Orchestras. Masin will give her accession recital in the large hall of the haute école de musique de Genève and her debut recital at the Budapest Music Centre, and present a chamber music programme with István Várdai (cello) and Bálint Zsoldos (piano) in Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid. This season’s collaborations will be with the Liszt Ferenc Chamber Orchestra at the Academy of Music in Budapest and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra with whom she will perform the Irish premiere of John Buckley’s Violin Concerto. Moreover, she will teach masterclasses in France, Spain, and Switzerland; establish the first GAIA Masters in Sintra, Portugal; expand the GAIA Music Festival to include the cities of Bern and Geneva; and is the keynote speaker at the EVENTUM conference in Thun, Switzerland.
Masin’s intrinsic ability to play the violin is not simply inherited, but founded in her voracious curiosity to understand human nature, musical expression, and the psychological connection to said expression. She explains, “I feel that music is a perpetual companion and my life feeds and informs my love for it and vice-versa. The experience of live music is everything. To me, it’s the ultimate form of communication, moving us into dimensions that language, for example, cannot reach. A word is not a sentence, but a note can be an entire story.”