Anne-Sophie Mutter is not just a violinist – she’s a musician.
She approaches performing in a genuine and holistic way. Her purpose is not to perfect a skill set, but to engage, inspire and give to others. And, after a 40-year career, her work is just beginning.
“Classical music is such a gift,” Mutter says. “It teaches us respect and curiosity, and touches our hearts. There’s always new meaning and depth to discover. It’s a labor of love that’s never really finished.”
DC audiences can experience this first hand at the Kennedy Center this Saturday. Mutter’s program reflects her quest for meaning, presenting a range of works that are both exploratory and emotional. She’ll perform works by Sebastian Currier, Mozart, Respighi and Saint Saëns, taking listeners on a journey through different styles and characters.
“It’s music of incredible depth and exuberance – everything one wants to encounter in life,” she says. “Hopefully, audiences can experience this during the two hours we’re onstage.”
Mutter, a contemporary music aficionado, is especially excited to perform Currier’s “Clockwork.” The modern piece is a musical roller coaster of sorts, comprised of fast-paced rhythmic passages contrasted with calmer, flowing melodies. Its constantly shifting meters keep audiences on their toes, demanding a focus and curiosity that redefines the listener’s experience.
The out-of-the-box structure in “Clockwork” is precisely why Mutter loves contemporary music. The arts exist to invigorate and inspire questions, she says, and that’s what contemporary music does.
“How can we grow if we don’t expose ourselves to things that are different and difficult to understand?” she asks.
Mutter wants contemporary music to be part of the legacy she builds as a musician.
“I want to be a useful muse for composers. These pieces are invaluable for future generations because [they] create repertoire that [will] still [be] relevant in the years to come.”
What really motivates Mutter, though, is music’s capacity to make a difference. Her career isn’t all about performing. It’s also about giving back to society.
The Anne Sophie Mutter Foundation is her outlet for service. Founded in 1997 as a resource for young musicians struggling to finance their instruments, the foundation has expanded to a global enterprise that also supports a chamber ensemble, commissions works from composers and hosts benefit concerts.
Mutter provides scholarships tailored to students’ individual needs, offering young musicians an open-ended opportunity to pursue their dreams. Her foundation currently supports nearly a dozen scholarship students from the U.S., Europe and Asia.
“This benefit work is an important part of being a musician,” she says. “Being an artist is so much more than perfecting your own skills.”
Mutter’s benefit work – as well as her role as a teacher and mother – have shaped her identity as a musician. Mutter, like most of us, has had many “jobs” in her life. Her artistry is grounded in experiences outside of music, which “have molded me into the artist I am today,” she says.
“My life experience provides a more in-depth understanding and connection to what the composer wants to express.”
For Mutter, great art concerns the soul. A good book, a beautiful painting, a flower – these all encourage people to engage in the world in new ways. And, if they’re willing, engage with themselves differently, too.
She hopes she can continue contributing to the arts through her musicianship and charity work. Her music inspires and challenges listeners – as great art does – in a way that encourages us all to find new meaning in our lives.
“We are people with souls, and that’s where music comes in,” she says. “Great art has something in it for everyone.”
Anne-Sophie Mutter will perform at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Saturday, April 8 at 3 p.m. This performance is presented by Washington Performing Arts. Tickets are available here. And click here to learn more about the Anne Sophie Mutter Foundation.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org