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Aisha Syed Castro, the prodigious violinist

Aisha Syed Castro

Japanese teacher Masaaki Suzuki, conductor, organist and harpsichordist says that Christian faith is needed to play Bach in a profound way.

Aisha Syed Castro felt the depth of this great composer with only five years, while listening to his sister to play the compositions of this outstanding genius of baroque music on the violin. Referring to him, Anton Webern said that all the music was in him and Schönberg himself emphasized that the German’s tonal audacity paved the way for the dissolution of tonality, which occurred two centuries later. “I fell in love with Bach's sonata and score for violin, and by the age of seven I was clear about what I would like to do for the rest of my life. There was nothing more beautiful for me than playing the violin.“

For the violinist Aisha Syed, her relationship with this instrument is her way of expressing herself as a human being and connecting with others. “It is very important that all we do has a purpose. The violin has been the voice to communicate myself with society. “

When she was eleven, she was accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra in her production as a soloist. It was a great responsibility to perform the violin concert in G minor of Max Bruch, a German composer and conductor of the romantic period of classical music. “It was the 60th anniversary of the National Symphony Orchestra and Hipólito Mejía, the President of the Republic at that time, and the most important personalities of the Dominican society attended to the concert “.

The undeniable success of this great audition takes her to London with only thirteen years. The challenge was enormous: to be accepted at the school for children prodigy, Yehudi Menuhin School. It is an elitist space created to provide wonderful minds, between age 8 and 19, with a rigorous foundation in academic musical analysis and, somehow, to make them find out their own distinctive language. “My mother went to the audition with me. I was very excited. I had been miraculously accepted. I was the 65th student and the first Latin, among a majority of Russians and Asians, admitted. “

Being a boarder at the Yehudi Menuhin School, she spent seven years learning that music was a language that went beyond any word. There was also a period of adaptation to her peers and to the highly competitive environment. “I had so many experiences, sharing ideas about different interpretations but, at the same time, the problems of feeling alone, the ignorance of English language when you get there. We were a community but also extremely competitive.”

The English Ladies Committee financed her university studies at the Royal College of Music in London where she was awarded a full scholarship to Soirée d'Or. “My graduation from the university, mainly with full scholarship, has opened huge doors for me. This has earned me recognition, musically speaking. “

For that reason, Aisha performed at the Nacional Carlos Piantini hall on the fifteenth anniversary of her artistic career, a musical repertoire that positively marked her artistic life and included pieces from her albums like “Pasión Latina” “Virtuoso Sarasate” and “Martinatis violin Concerto No. 2 “, this latter under the London label Classical Media. “I am very grateful for my training but the most important thing for me is to represent my country and to get to the people.”

By the age of 27, she already has a wide participation in international festivals like the Yehudi Menuhin International Music Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland; The Gaida Contemporary Music Festival where the laureate composer Alguirdas Martinaitits dedicated his violin concert to her in the National Philharmonic Hall along with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra in Vilnius, Lithuania and in the Abu Dhabi Festival. “I have had the honor of participating in international festivals with world’s classical music celebrities and also in other places where music is hardly distributed, such as prisons and public schools.”

The social side of the violinist is beyond all doubts. Currently, just as Carlos Vives, she is along with the maestro Gustavo Dudamel, Ambassador of LEALA, an American organization founded to promote the Latin American cultural values and the Spanish language in the United States. “All art is connected. If we can become a point of reference in the United States we have to make that commitment. In Cuba, for example, I visited the National School of Fine Arts and the Miguel Roldán Conservatory and it was a surprise the number of young people who want to devote themselves to classical music.”

At the age of 24, she was sworn in Honorary Professor of the Faculty of Arts by the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and now, she is in charge of the “Music for Life” foundation that seeks to bring classical music to those who have unfavorable social, economic or health conditions. She is also a goodwill ambassador for the cultural promotion of the Dominican Republic: “Bringing the Dominican flag around the world fills me with pride. Representing that diaspora fills me with satisfaction. “

At the Soberano Awards, she won a prize for the category of classical music five times: “I have been nominated since I was 17. That is significant because there is a recognition of how important classical music is, however, some efforts have to be made at the governmental level to teach music as a compulsory subject in all schools. “

As part of her international tours for Europe and the United States, performing on the most important stages of the world, she returns to Santiago, the Heart City, where she feels better: “The quality of life is good. It is a wonderful place. The truth is that my country has everything. In my national tour, the southern area had a profound impacted on me, the beauty of those provinces like Santiago Rodríguez or San Francisco de Macorís. “

She assures that in case of her generation, where everything is constantly changing, young people must get closer to music so as to learn true values. “Classical music teaches you to be patience because you have to listen carefully. It is not a repeated harmony reason why it allows you to concentrate and not have a microwave mentality. It focus on here-and-now mentality.”

She works incessantly in a wide repertoire that practically takes up all of her time. Married to an economist, an American citizen, and deeply rooted in her religious convictions, Aisha lives music acting in connivance with her faith.” I spend my poor free time listening to musical pieces of those same composers to conduct an intellectual analysis of what the composer essentially wanted to communicate. I also listen to Christian music in my prayer time and Bible reading. I love hymns as a way of praising God.”

TEXT: Elena Crespo; IMAGES: Archivo