CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — When Christina Bouey was just five years old, she remembers feeling inspired after watching one of the world’s greatest violinists, Sarah Chang, on TV.
She was entranced by the American child prodigy, a teen at the time, who had debuted with the New York Philharmonic at eight years old.
And she was determined to have a violin of her very own.
“I wanted to play it before I even played it,” said Bouey. “I saw (Chang) on TV playing and I was so mesmerized by everything and I said to my parents ‘get me a violin and I will do the same thing’.”
They did – and she did.
“Once I picked it up I knew that is what I wanted to do and I knew very early on that I wanted to go to university for that and make that my life.”
Now, the accomplished 28-year-old violinist is returning home for a concert in Charlottetown, with her dream instrument in hand – a $180,000 Scarampella violin made in 1900 and on loan courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts Instrument Bank.
Bouey describes the violin as having a huge sound, giving it the nickname the “Bouey Beast”.
Bouey said she can find many different colours and moods with the instrument and that it responds very well to the bow.
“I’m so lucky to have it,” gushes Bouey.
Bouey and her violin will be performing with the string band the Ulysses Quartet at UPEI’s Dr. Steel Recital Hall on Saturday.
Bouey, who loves coming back to the Island to see some familiar faces and to show how much she has grown as an artist, said the goal of the group is to provide inspiration to their audience with their energy and passion.
“I hope that (Islanders) just come and are taken out of their everyday life and they can feel like they explored different emotions, different countries where the composers come from and just have a great night out.”
Bouey, who now lives in Manhattan, did her undergrad at Boston Conservatory and went on to do her post-grad work and masters at the Manhattan School of Music.
Living in Manhattan has proven challenging, moving Bouey to grow as an artist.
“I like how the level of the arts there is just so high that it keeps pushing you to make yourself better,” said Bouey. “Even if (your music) is at a very high level, you are always pushing for that extra mile.”
Bouey said she hasn’t sought a full-time orchestra job in New York, even though it comes with great salaries.
“I just knew I wouldn’t be happy just sitting in a section and just being part of something where I didn’t get to express my own identify and musical artistry.”
Instead, Bouey worked her way up doing concerts and any gig that presented itself to help pay the bills.
Her hard work paid off as it presented her with a part-time concert master position in Ithaca, N.Y.
That position jump-started a lot of opportunities for Bouey, introducing her to many well-known and respected professors at some very prominent universities.
It also led her to meet some incredibly talented artists, including the founding members of the Ulysses Quartet.
The award-winning group, which formed in 2015, mostly plays classical music but it does collaborate with living composers. In addition, group members plan to write their own music one day.
“We want young people to be, ‘like, wow, classical music is awesome’ and then we want old people to think ‘oh, I’ve never heard classical music like that before’.”
Just the facts
- Ulysses Quartet will be performing at the Dr. Steel Recital Hall on Jan. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
- In May 2016, Ulysses Quartet won the grand prize and the Gold Medal in the Senior String Division at the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition in Indiana after being a group for only eight months.
-The quartet will be travelling across the globe in 2017. For more information or upcoming dates, visit www.ulyssesquartet.com.
What’s in a name?
-When choosing the group’s name, two factors came into play. The four musicians live in Washington Heights, Manhattan, and close to Ulysses S. Grant’s Tomb.
- Their journey as a group is related to Homer’s Odyssey as they are finding their way on this musical path that they plan to travel for years to come.
- Put the two together and the result is the Ulysses Quartet.