Maria Gîlicel

We're delighted to announce violinist Maria Gîlicel as the winner of the 2018 RPS Emily Anderson Prize.

Originally from Romania, Maria is currently pursuing her Masters at the Royal College of Music with Professor Maciej Rakowski. She has worked with Nicola Benedetti, Alina Ibragimova and Leonid Kerbel, and recently performed under the baton of Maxim Vengerov for his Orchestral Masterclass at the College.

Maria was selected for the BBC Symphony Orchestra Pathway Scheme and Chamber Orchestra of Europe Academy in 2018. She is also part of the Tillett Trust Young Artists Platform, which will provide her with recital opportunities around the UK for the 2019 season.

We asked her to share with us highlights of her musical journey, her inspirations, and her dreams for the future:

  • Do you remember the first time you were given a violin?

The first time I actually held a violin was around the age of four. My parents are both musicians - Dad's a violinist, Mum's a percussionist - so I was surrounded with music and musical instruments around the house, and they knew quite well what they were getting me into!

I recall my father helping me firstly to hold the bow correctly, which I now have the utmost gratitude for. Playing the violin from such a young age has made it become a fun activity and 'play-time' - I really enjoyed duets and pieces I could play with my parents.

  • What has been your most inspiring experience?

I definitely couldn't count all of them! Making music with other people can create within us an incredible chest-expanding feeling - almost trance-like. This can vary from chamber music to orchestral playing. Whenever you share something as abstract as music with other human beings, the emotions can be incredibly overwhelming. I am also so grateful to receive guidance from Professor Maciej Rakowski at the Royal College of Music, and to have worked with world-class artists like Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Maxim Vengerov.

Lastly, nature is one of my ultimate sources of inspiration - I love it so much!

  • What's the best thing about being a performer, and what are the difficulties of the job?

I'd say the best thing about performing is being able to create an atmosphere at that specific moment, and in that specific place. The unrepeatable nature of each performance is what makes it very fascinating, and I would say this is also the most difficult thing about performing too.

  • Tell us one strange fact about you.

I can make very realistic and varied crow sounds! 😆

  • What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on many pieces, but I think the most notable one is the Brahms Violin Concerto. It is one of my favourite violin concertos and it makes me so happy to play and discover it in a different light every day.

  • Imagine yourself in 10 years’ time. Where do you see your music and artistry taking you?

I hope to do something beneficial for the world and inspire other people to do so too. Although we say this a lot, music really is an universal language and I believe in its power to change one's state of mind and emotions. I believe the arts in general can help humans become more empathetic and aware of themselves.

  • What’s the best piece of advice anyone’s given you?

This Carl Jung quote is one of my favourites: 'Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.'

  • If you didn’t play the violin, what else would you be doing?

Most likely something related to arts and creative processes. I love all kinds of art media. I do draw a lot (especially when I should be taking notes in class!) and when I was younger I used to make short films with my friends for fun.

I also love gardening, and I'm currently working as a library assistant at my college. Being in a quiet environment surrounded by undiscovered books and scores fills me with excitement! Everything I've mentioned so far are my hobbies, and I think that's what I'd always try to do for a living: whatever fills me with joy.

  • Describe a time during your studies and/or career when you were faced with a difficult project or task. How did you overcome it?

This happens pretty much every other week at College. I am a very energetic person, but the downside of it is that I tend to panic quite easily and become anxious. The best way for me to manage this is to take a deep breath, do something that comforts me, whether it's having a cup of tea with a friend, or going away for a walk by myself. I try to clear my head by writing stuff down and, if everything else fails, I forgive myself. Nobody is perfect and life goes on: we all learn something from our experiences.


Follow Maria on Instagram @mariagilicel. You can download Maria's full biography by clicking the link below.

Each year, the RPS supports outstanding emerging artists like Maria to develop artistically and professionally. If you would like to get in touch with Maria, with a query or an opportunity, please contact us by email or phone on 020 7287 0019.