First Person Vanessa-Mae, Voice for Peace Concert Series: Vaness-Mae.

BK Magazine - Friday, April 01, 2005

Vanessa-Mae seemingly has it all: the talent, the brains and the beauty. (Oh, and she has the bucks as well, thanks to album sales of over 8 million.) And she’s in Bangkok on April 5 to give a concert, the final cultural event in the “Bridges – Dialogues Toward a Culture of Peace” series and a fundraiser for tsunami victims.

Classically trained as a child, the half-Thai, half-Chinese violinist is credited with popularizing the fusion of pop and classical that is now known as “crossover.” Her latest release, Choreography, is her first new effort since the dance-influenced Subject to Change (2001).

In addition to being named among the world’s most beautiful people by magazines like FHM and People, Vanessa-Mae, in one famous incident, was a model for Jean-Paul Gaultier during Paris Fashion Week. Asked to wear the final wedding dress of the show, she took to the catwalk carrying her violin.

It is great to return to Bangkok. Thailand has always held a special relevance to me as my natural father is Thai and last time I was here, I was presented with an honorary Thai passport, which was an honor.

I am approached by charities all the time and like to help wherever I can. I could not possibly honor all the requests, but in the end you just have to select the ones that you think can make the biggest difference and I believe that the Bridges project is one of them. Instrumental music in particular has no barriers and so enables people from different nationalities to overcome their differences and unite.

My late teenage years started to feel like a never-ending treadmill of work, so when I hit my 20s, I vowed to make time for other things in my life. Equally, I think that as you grow in age and in experience, you become more selective about what you want to do.

I would love to speak more languages, cook and have more patience. I manage to spend at least one month per year skiing, which is a great break, in the company of my family and dog.

Subject to Change was an experimental album for me at an eye opening time of my life. It was a fun dance album, but of a much more laid-back, chilled-out and low-key nature than Choreography. Choreography is a spirited return to a showmanship approach to violin playing, which I believe suits me more. It pushes the violin to new and exciting styles, from a Bolero and Tango to as far afield as an Irish jig and Bollywood extravaganza, yet it is the most harmonious and organic sounding album I have recorded so far.

I have enjoyed performing at the Classical Brit Awards a couple of times, but I understand that classical purists can never approve of my having so much risk taking, freedom and fun in what I do.

Looking back, the Jean-Paul Gaultier show was a great experience, and being invited to wear the final wedding dress of the show was an honor. However, at the time, I was the most nervous I had ever been on stage, as the responsibility of being on stage for somebody else felt so foreign to me. Being able to take my violin out with me on the catwalk for the final dress I modeled was a huge last minute relief.

Your looks, if they are to be kept natural, are something you have no control of. So, you must never question them

Andrew Hiransomboon, reporter