Portrait video Santa Vižine

VIDEO - Before she knew that the viola was going to be her instrument, her mother saw her enormous potential. In our 'portrait video series': meet principal violist Santa Vižine.
Santa Vižine after a concert
Santa Vižine after a concert
If I were a musical instrument, I would definitely be a viola.

Santa Vižine, Principal Violist

'My name is Santa Vizine and since 2017 I'm a violist in the Concertgebouworkest. And since very recently I'm the principal violist of the Concertgebouworkest.

First of all my mother kind of knew that I was going to be a violist. Before I did, before I even knew what a viola was. And I gotta say she hit the nail on the head, because it's really my instrument.

And I think it's a bit... Well, everyone says that their instrument is close to a human voice. But I think the viola really is. At least closer than the violin, on which I started. And if the violin is a bit more extroverted, more kind of life of the party, then the viola, just like me, is kind of an outgoing introvert.

I started music very young. I started piano at four and violin at five. In this photograph there's still a little piece of tape on the bow to know where the middle is.

Since I switched to viola, I actually play in an orchestra. I played in the school orchestra every week. Then I played in the conservatory orchestra every week. And I started working immediately with the incredible orchestra of Gidon Kremer where I was also in the principal position.

I was here, at the Concertgebouw Orchestra as an academist. Then in 2017 I got the job as tutti and 2021 I got the job as principal.

It's just my orchestra, I feel so much at home here, because it's so international. We all kind of absorb each other's culture and everyone is interested about the new people who come in. Everybody's very welcoming.

And then that sound, there's this whole atmosphere: we create that sound. It's just a special orchestra to be in. And of course, the hall helps. The hall is historic. A magnificent building with an acoustic like nowhere else.

I really enjoy travel. I get to travel a lot, of course, with the instrument. Seldomly I do take a trip somewhere where I've never been before without the instrument.

It's very difficult traveling without your instrument. You become so attached to it.

It's really funny. You have a tiny heart attack once every hour just trying to remember where it is and then you remember it's at home. But I haven't been able to enjoy one holiday without that tiny heart attack.

Yeah, so this is what I see every morning. (Opens viola case and shows some photographs.) This is me and my partner at Opening Night. I believe 2019. This is me and my sister in our little summer house at the beach in Latvia. And this is a card that a friend of mine, Saskia Otto sent. She plays in the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. She found this card in Lisbon and gave it to me, because she saw my name on it and thought it would be cute to send it to me. And she was right, I still have it. After ten years.

This is always with me, everywhere I go. This little purple box.'