Ireland Adventures Reignite Passion for Music for World Renowned Violinist Vladimir Jablokov
A Four Seasons Tribute to His Father:
When violinist Vladimir Jablokov found himself busking on the streets of Galway city centre on a winters’ day, he had all but turned his back on the instrument that has taken him around the world. The then 19-year-old Slovakian – who is described as the Nigel Kennedy of his nation – could not have envisaged he would reignite his passion for music in Ireland. Back then, he was disillusioned with the expectations placed upon him from an early age by his talented family.
Now, 17 years later, he will bring his brand-new show, Vladimir Jablokov: Four Seasons Explained to Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Thursday, May 12th. This spectacle brings together the famous Vivaldi piece with a visual interpretation of the 300-year-old sonnets that shaped the composer’s arrangement. And it is a touching tribute to his late father. He was a renowned violinist, who handed down his love for the Four Seasons movement to his son.
“I came to Ireland to take a break from classical music,” explains Vladimir. In all honesty, I wanted to stop playing altogether. In reality, I needed to do something completely different. I was born to a family of musicians. The truth is I wanted to rebel. Moreover, I had to do it my own way. And I had a comfortable life in Slovakia.
“I studied music and travelled so much between the ages of 8 to 13 with the Bratislava Boys Choir. In fact, we were members of the Vienna State Opera and the Slovak National Theatre. As a result, I missed a lot of school time travelling to Japan, France, the UK. At 13, I hit breaking point. What is more, I refused to go on a tour of the US and Canada.”
Vladimir’s future was set:
His father, Alexander, was a touring solo violinist. In addition, his mother was the leader of the National Operetta Theatre in Bratislava. As well as this, all six children grew up playing music. But by the age of 18, Vladimir Jablokov needed to distance himself from regimented instrumental training. Here, he turned down his chance to join the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, where his father was also a violin lecturer. And so he fled to Ireland for adventure
Busking in the Rain:
To begin with, Vladimir landed into Dublin without a word of English. He had little money to his name. Moreover, his only way to earn a living was to begin busking on the streets of the capital.
Soon he noticed that while playing the “serious classical pieces for violin” he dedicated his youth to, he received little attention. Subsequently he realised that “people felt sorry for me.” Too stubborn to admit defeat to his parents, he changed tack, and started to play more popular Viennese waltzes.
“What I thought was that I needed an accompanist,” he said. “But when I tried lighter classical pieces, I saw that people were enjoying it.
“With this in mind, the plan was to play on Grafton Street for a couple of days to get by. I had to survive until I could find a proper job. In reality, the first winter was really hard. People weren’t keen on stopping. The only way for me to make any money was to busk between 1am and 4am in Temple Bar. This was a time when they didn’t seem to mind the rain.
While it was was challenging, Vladimir realised he loved to entertain. From this, the seed was sown. He embarked on a new journey in Ireland, finally settling in County Kildare. Although his form of musical expression has changed and evolved, he found that once he had licence over his choices, he thrived.
Galway has long been a part of this journey for Vladimir Jablokov. From the moment he played on Shop Street, he developed a strong connection with the City of the Tribes. Primarily, this has happened through his friendship with local tenor Seán Costello. “I really like Galway,” he says.
“I have such nice memories and it was a lovely change of scene from Dublin. I have performed many concerts with my good friend Seán Costello. He was one of the first tenors I worked with here. Now he is always a special guest at my bigger shows.”.
Four Seasons Explained:
His latest tour, Vladimir Jablokov: Four Seasons Explained, is his first time to showcase this new work to an audience. Above all, the visuals allow the imagination to wander to the rhythm of the music. Together they weave the tale of the sonnets through the famed piece.
Accordingly, Vladimir has come full circle. For the teenager who came to Ireland to rebel against his family ties, to the man who will present a show inspired by his late father. He even uses his bow, an expensive piece which his father “sold land for” to buy.
“The Four Seasons was one of my fathers’ favourite classical compositions,” says Vladimir. “He kept telling me the story behind it. As such, last year I decided to learn the whole lot – all 42 minutes. I was playing for him through zoom. While I kept asking him how he enjoyed playing the autumn part as it was my least favourite, he went deep into the sonnets and their meaning. Now that I see the full picture, I enjoy it so much more.
Autumn is the best concerto out of the four:
“It’s harvest season, people are having a few drinks after the harvest. In the second movement, someone sleeps on a bale of hay. The third movement is the sound of hunting.
“It’s amazing to see the spring awakening, the heat of the summer. I wanted to bring this across to the audience through visuals. Now that’s what we have done. If you see a sleeping goatherd and barking dog at the exact moment one of the instruments mimes the sound of the bark, it will make sense right away. Moreover, it really adds to the enjoyment of the pieces. I am surprised this hasn’t been done before.
An Entertainer At Heart:
Vladimir Jablokov has found his heart through entertainment. He has enthralled royalty and esteemed guests at the Royal Variety Performance. In addition, he regularly performs at the Three Arena and the National Concert Hall in Dublin to sell-out shows. He is delighted to bring this performance to Galway’s Town Hall Theatre on Thursday, May 12th. The latter half of the concert will feature some of the most popular pieces in Vladimir’s repertoire, including Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5, Blue Danube, Strauss’ Radetzky March, Theme from Schindler’s List, If I Were a Rich Man and more audience favourites.
To book your tickets and for more details for Vladimir Jablokov’s FOUR SEASONS EXPLAINED concerts log onto www.vladimirmusic.com.