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Vladimir Jablokov & Anton Jablokov: “The Dueling Violin Brothers” | Talks at Google

Vladimir Jablokov & Anton Jablokov: “The Dueling Violin Brothers” | Talks at Google

started with compositions which were composed. So we used to play Strauss
and Viennese music. But then, we found
out that we enjoy arranging music and changing
it to our own style. And also, we played only in a
three-piece band and quartet, so we wanted to make the
sound as big and interesting as possible. So we made it all kinds of
techniques and arrangements, where we can show
everything we can do. And that’s how this
program all was created. So actually, now, we
play all the compositions that are our own arrangements
or our own compositions. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
It’s basically we take the theme
of classical piece or recent even of the modern
songs, as [INAUDIBLE] music. SPEAKER 1: As we saw last night? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yes. Yes, we did that. And we just create
the compositions based on those themes and trying
to make classical music, maybe, slightly more accessible. SPEAKER 1: OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
And that way, you know, creating the
way of maybe not being so afraid for some people
the classical music. ANTON JABLOKOV: Also,
we did like a bridge from the classical world
to the pop music world and also from the other side. SPEAKER 1: And how
do you do that? How do you bridge that? ANTON JABLOKOV: So the
big bridge is the theme. If people know some melody,
they enjoy it much more. It’s also from psychology. If you know the few
notes or the rhythm, you are enjoying
listening to it. So we take a theme
which everyone knows from their
childhood or from a movie, and we compose a piece upon it. And then, we use the
classical music techniques and composition techniques,
which are great, and we have a whole piece. So if the music is
only eight bars, we can make a four-minute
piece [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER 1: That’s amazing. Any chance of a
quick demonstration? ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah. We can just show a small
piece with just the piano. SPEAKER 1: OK, so without your– it’s Adam, isn’t it,
your usual pianist? So without Adam,
you could give us a little short demonstration? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Oh, yeah. We’ll try something. SPEAKER 1: That’d be great. Thank you. [VIOLIN MUSIC] [APPLAUSE AND CHEERING] SPEAKER 1: Thanks, guys. You’re right. It’s definitely
very accessible– a lot of beaming
faces [INAUDIBLE].. That was beautiful. I’d like to talk a little
bit about improvisation. I know, Anton, that
that’s your area. And there’s some recordings,
very exciting recordings, on YouTube improvising
cadenzas, as Vladimir just steps back and allows
you to do your thing. I get the impression
that, in classical music, that composers shudder at
the word, “improvisation”. Do you think there
is enough room in classical music for
that playfulness and that [INAUDIBLE]. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah,
there is not anymore. There used to be. In the past, all
the composers they were often also performers. And they used to improvise
Mozart, and Bach, Beethoven. They were the best improvisers. SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm. Right. ANTON JABLOKOV: But
after some time, they thought maybe
the performers– that it’s more safe to
have the cadenza written because it’s a risk. If you’re on the stage
and you are nervous, it’s very hard to improvise. So you have to be very good. And that’s why– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Oh. ANTON JABLOKOV: No. SPEAKER 1: Oh. [LAUGHTER] ANTON JABLOKOV:
Sometimes, I do disasters. Sometimes, I finish
in the land of no man, and I don’t know what to
do with, is a part of it. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Oh,
he likes [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. ANTON JABLOKOV: In the past, the
cadenzas used to be improvised, so the performer also showed
his skills of improvisation. And then slowly, the
composers started to write down the cadenzas. And in the 20th
century, again, people wanted to do only one thing,
and good, not many things, and not so good. So performers, they
stopped to write music, and they just concentrated
on playing music. And everything is written,
which is good for the technique. Andy they are not
doing mistakes, or so. But sometimes, it’s
awfully boring. If you come to the concert,
you don’t see his personality. SPEAKER 1: OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: I feel like
a victim of the classical world where, from the early
days as we started, I was always told to play
exactly what’s in the music. If I played one note
away, the teacher would immediately stop,
like, no, no, no, no, like what’s written in there? Play that way, and so on. And I tried to cross
into that other world. But when I was already an
adult, like about 19 or 20, that’s too late if you
want to be natural. Anton started when
he was maybe 12. SPEAKER 1: OK. So that’s why he’s more
comfortable with the risk. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
He just likes– I’m getting there,
but I’m a couple of steps behind that
way, that I need to learn everything note by note. Even if I play one note
wrong in two hours concert, I generally have to stop for two
bars to find myself where I am, where I continue. SPEAKER 1: Wow. So it really limits you. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: And for
him, it doesn’t matter. Like he’s always looking
at me like, error, error. Something is wrong here. Like he’s thinking this. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: Anton stops working. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: And
very [INAUDIBLE],, you know? But I have to memorize every
single note and everything. SPEAKER 1: OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: And for him,
he just remembers the lines. And if something goes slightly
different, he’s just– SPEAKER 1: Wow. So that’s an amazing
skill to have, actually. And I’m really jealous of that. Like my experience with music
has been very similar to yours. And what I find– the limitation
of the musical education in [INAUDIBLE]—- or maybe
it’s the same in Slovakia– we have people who maybe study
music their entire lives, up until 18– 17, 18. They go to university and
stop playing for a few years. And now in their 30s,
they can’t play “Do– A Deer.” VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Oh. Well, you do have to study
the music [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. But they would have
studied for a long time. And because [INAUDIBLE]. ANTON JABLOKOV: I
think the problem is they divided the worlds. So the people who play, I
don’t know, Irish music, they know how to improvise,
and they enjoy playing. In the classical world, there’s
something completely different. But it should be
connected, I think. SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm. Does it bother you, then,
if you improvise onstage, and it doesn’t go so well? How do you deal
with those mistakes? ANTON JABLOKOV:
You do the cadenza. SPEAKER 1: A lot of
they don’t hear it, usually. SPEAKER 1: OK. ANTON JABLOKOV: Fortunately,
they don’t hear anything. I mean, from the cadenzas. So you do one wrong
note, my colleagues are laughing on the stage. And then we just continue. SPEAKER 1: OK. OK, that’s great. So then, to continue on on the
arrangements and improvisation thread– when you’re
working with– you go back to Slovakia,
don’t you, to work with Adam? ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah,
or wherever we can. SPEAKER 1: Wherever
you can meet? ANTON JABLOKOV: Where
[INAUDIBLE] are cheaper. [LAUGHS] SPEAKER 1: OK. That’s fair enough. When you’re working on an
arrangement for a new piece, then, are you the
type of musicians that you push the boat way
out, go to the extreme, and then bring yourselves back? Or are you a bit more
deliberate and delicate in how you make your
choices when you’re working on a new arrangement? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: The big
choice is usually the music– I mean, the piece of music. That’s the first thing
we have to choose, or at least the theme, which
is possible to be arranged. Then we usually make
a plan on paper. And we say, what we would
like to have from the music? Does it have to be very modern
or accessible for people? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Sometimes, they go too far, that it becomes
very interesting for us about– ANTON JABLOKOV: As
classical musicians. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: It’s very
good to ask our advice– what do you think of this piece? And if we hear that it
sounds very, very modern– but if it’s in the way of
modern classical music, that means it’s all wrong. SPEAKER 1: OK. It’s no longer accessible. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah. Yeah. SPEAKER 1: OK. ANTON JABLOKOV: And then,
we just take a piece and we try to play it. Adam is a great improviser. SPEAKER 1: Really? ANTON JABLOKOV: He’s a hundred
times better than myself. So we just play it
few times, and we are looking for possible ways. And then, we record
sometimes also– the playing. And then we start to write
the music to a computer. SPEAKER 1: And then, do you send
those back, then, to Ireland? To Vladimir? ANTON JABLOKOV:
Yeah, to be approved. SPEAKER 1: Yeah, I
was just going to ask. Do you sign off, then, Vladimir? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Well, I
start to globally try to– no, I generally look after the
production and promotion on the other side of– the more business side of it. SPEAKER 1: Yeah, OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
So we always think like, what would work
in the production? What is the next direction
we should be going? And yes, I always get the music
on the day when it’s written, or the day after. And then we look whether we
all agree that it’s good. It’s a teamwork. It’s not really that I
would be saying, OK, well, this is better, or something. I wouldn’t, as much
as he does give out to me how I’m
doing the business, but then we generally
know our places. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: OK, well,
that’s a good segue way into your relationship
and the dynamic. Like you market yourselves as
the dueling violin brothers. But how much does sibling– like a sibling
rivalry, but also how, when you know someone so well
and you’ve grown up together, and it’s so natural to rub
each other up the wrong way. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: No, we
criticize each other a lot. SPEAKER 1: Really? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
It’s very [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. But it’s great to– ANTON JABLOKOV:
There is no filter. It’s just no filter. Sometimes, it’s too much, but– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: So when
people come to our house, it’s like our youngest
brother, Victor, worked with us after four years– first time. He did the orchestrations
for the 25-piece orchestra [INAUDIBLE]. Two-hours program. It was 700 pages of A3 scores. But so it’s a lot of
writing and a lot of work, and he did that all. And he was conducting. And when he seen us,
like how much we argue. And when we said
anything to him, he goes like, how can
you work like that? Like, he’s a little bit out
of that world for some time, because he’s studying
in Moscow at the moment, so we don’t see him that often. But I think he got used to
it at the end of the week. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah,
he’s getting better. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah, we
are teaching him how to– SPEAKER 1: Getting
more argumentative? [LAUGHS] And does
that help, then? Does that improve the
speed of the process and to get to move on? ANTON JABLOKOV: Well, maybe
the quality, you know? Because we are all criticized. I mean, if he plays, I’m
criticizing him all the time, so he has to improve. But also– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
I’m criticizing him. ANTON JABLOKOV: –the other way. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: But
he doesn’t take it. You know? [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] ANTON JABLOKOV: It’s good. When I pick a piece, he says,
no, no way, I usually hate it, or it’s boring. And that’s why, if
we have an idea, it has to be a really good idea. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
We have to filter it through many resources. And then we ask people
around, and so on. SPEAKER 1: OK. Great. I’d like to talk to you two
about your lives as musicians. Vladimir, how long have
you been in Ireland again? 12 years? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Over 13 years, now. SPEAKER 1: Over 13 years. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: It’ll
be 14 in September. SPEAKER 1: So Vladimir has
been here for nearly 14 years. And for our audience, the guys
come from a very musical family and used to play with their
parents and their siblings quite a bit. But when you left
to come to Ireland, why did you want to
leave your violin behind? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: It was
very obvious in our family that we were going to
all become six siblings and all become
professional musicians. But we were, sort of,
asked that question when we were five
or six years of age. And once we decided then, you
know, music lessons four times a week, and you go on with it. It was a great thing,
what our dad did, because I’m really happy now. But when I got to my teenage
years, when I was 17 or 18, I started to
struggle, as I could see the classical world
was changing a lot. I don’t know how it was here. But back in Slovakia– or
Czechoslovakia before– and around the musicians,
classical musicians would be counted on sort
of the high ranking. Like, we had more possibilities
than doctors or anybody else. Like it was– SPEAKER 1: Wow. ANTON JABLOKOV:
To travel and to– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: To travel. And also money would be
much, much better, even just working the orchestra. And the change in the ’90s
that I could see happening, I was like,
actually, this is not what I picked to be or to study. And I wasn’t that much in
love with the classical music as yet. And I discovered Eminem and
all sorts of other performers. And I said, I want to
try something different. So I just wanted to
leave everything behind and go for a couple of months. I only planned to stay for
two and 1/2, three months. SPEAKER 1: For a
few months, yeah. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
And then, Anton was actually giving
out to me to take the violin, because I hadn’t
had a single word in English. SPEAKER 1: OK, right. ANTON JABLOKOV: He had one
word for the [INAUDIBLE],, which was– [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: Fair enough. We can use our imaginations. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah, I
was listening to Eminem. And my mom was saying, oh,
so what are you listening to? I couldn’t understand
a word, you know? [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: So then
you got to Ireland. And in a few days– you were in the West for
a while, isn’t that right? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Yeah, I wanted to go. But when I came to Dublin, I
saw the reality of how it is and how much everything costs– back then, the difference
was very different. I brought 600
euros, and I thought I’m going to survive a month. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: Evil laugh
from the audience. [LAUGHS] VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Yeah, that’s what it is. And back then, it would
be possible in Slovakia. Now, it’s all sort of equalizing
that [INAUDIBLE] 14 years ago. So I came in, and
then I realized, OK, so I would need to take a
flight in two weeks’ time or call my dad for money. SPEAKER 1: Hm. Wow. OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: And I didn’t
want to do that, so I said, I want to try
something different. And I want to create something. So I said, like OK,
just for some time, go back to [INAUDIBLE]. And then I realized that
I can get really, really quick, direct impact with
what I’m doing from people. SPEAKER 1: OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
So for example, you are playing a piece
of music that you thought everybody’s going to love– or I love– but no,
you don’t make a cent. And then you play
something else, and you just start seeing
that people are interested. So it was a really good
tester for the market. SPEAKER 1: Mm. That’s great. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Then I
actually found the pieces that I enjoyed and
people enjoyed. So then I created the first
band, and it was great. In 2005 and 2006, we sold over
20,000 CDs only on the street. SPEAKER 1: Wow. That’s amazing. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: And it was
going really, really well. But then, I wanted to move
it over somewhere further. But the musicians I had back
then, they were really happy that, OK, we are making great
money here on the street. Like why would we
risk something? Why would we try to
bring in somewhere else? And then for 12 years,
I’m working on something that, hopefully, we can bring
internationally next year. SPEAKER 1: OK. That’s amazing. So real-life market
research with the shoppers on Grafton Street, eh? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: It was a
really good start, you know? I mean, within a year and 1/2,
I started to organize concerts with different promoters and so
on, until I became [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER 1: Who was the
first promoter then that you would have– or
who was the first person to put you on stage? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
It was Jim Mallory. He was actually a
very local promoter. He was more like a– he retired,
and he did it as a hobby. He actually came to
the concert last night. SPEAKER 1: Aw, lovely. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: He’s 85
or 88, something like it. He’s old now. But then, sort of, “Mr
Business” as I call it, was Pat Egan, who would be
the main classical crossover promotion in Ireland. And then, I worked
with [INAUDIBLE],, which is the record company. And they’re part of MCD. And at the moment,
we said about a year ago or so that we actually need
to drop everyone, everything, and start to sort of throw
ourselves to the water and see what’s possible. Because it was
struggling for a while. It wasn’t moving anywhere. SPEAKER 1: Oh,
drop the promoters that you were working with? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah. SPEAKER 1: OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: And agent
and manager, and [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER 1: Wow. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: It’s
a lot of different people to be involved if you
want to get it somewhere, but we felt that all
those people were great and really enjoyed
working with them. I was with the record
company for seven years . But you know, we
hit the brick wall. And actually, it
wasn’t going anywhere. I thought, I have
an idea, said, we have an idea of where to work. And I think we’re getting
quite good results now with the production
package from yesterday. I think it was
really, really good. And we did more work
within a couple of months than we’ve done in a long time. SPEAKER 1: OK. That’s amazing. When did you join, then, Anton? ANTON JABLOKOV: It was about– like, I always played with him. Or during my studies, I always
came here to Ireland in summer to play weddings and things,
so I could pay all my studies through the years. But actively, about four years
ago was the first concert in the concert hall with him. SPEAKER 1: Wow, that’s great. So you’re based in
Switzerland, isn’t it? ANTON JABLOKOV: Yes. SPEAKER 1: Right. And we established this earlier. You have actually finished
all of your master’s now. And you decided you’re not
doing any more master’s. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah,
it’s enough now. I have to lead a real life. SPEAKER 1: So the
package, Vladimir, that you were talking about–
the performance package that you’ve been working on over
the last year or so, I guess? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Or so, yeah. SPEAKER 1: And that we
got to see last night. What are your hopes and
aspirations for that? What’s next with that package? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: First of all,
we have to create the package, which will take another month. We have to take highlights. We have take the orchestrations
and have it all prepared as one package. We’re hoping to forward it
onto different orchestras and circles, like BBC, and just
offer it that is what we have. They have to see that the work
of the orchestration is good, the music choice is right. And they have to see the
examples of how we play, how it can look on
the stage, and so on. So that will be one. And secondly, we would
like to prepare– and those were the ideas about
the more sort of recent songs, rather than doing
everything only classical. We need some sort of
deal that will break us through into different markets. And for example, America
would need something– SPEAKER 1: The more modern. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
More modern, but it doesn’t mean we have to
play it all the time, like through the whole concert. But you need to have a
couple of those things that people actually like. ANTON JABLOKOV: [INAUDIBLE] SPEAKER 1: Can latch onto. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah, yeah. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. OK, great. And then, when you– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: So just
start to sell it and probably get– we have a couple of
different people highlighted that we would like to work
with us as managers, as agents, and then also as the producers. But at the moment, we’re all
in the process of research, because we don’t want
to just jump into it, because we feel that we do
have the product that we could go [INAUDIBLE]. SPEAKER 1: That’s great. And will your younger
brother continue to do your orchestrations? Or when you go to
work an orchestra, like the BBC Orchestra,
the RTE Orchestra, do you work with that conductor? Or can you also bring
in your own conductor? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: We
would like to have him on the list as a part of
the production package. But sometimes, they want to
have their own conductors, or they have a conductor that
sells the tickets as well. SPEAKER 1: Sure. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
For example, if they did with half of the
concert or so on, they had something else–
so he will be definitely part of the production package. And it’s really good to
work with him, actually. We enjoyed it [INAUDIBLE]. SPEAKER 1: He’s a peace-maker,
by the sounds of it. [LAUGHS] VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Oh, not exactly. I wouldn’t tell it that way. But no, he really can
hold the orchestra well. It’s the old Russian
school where they actually show every single beat, and– [INTERPOSING VOICES] ANTON JABLOKOV: At
work, yesterday, it was a test,
actually, for him. He didn’t know it. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: So you’ll keep him. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: What is
really hard for classical orchestras– and we found it
with some of the BBC orchestras as well– they’re not used
to play sometimes as fast as we go
with the tempos. We call it [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. I don’t know how
it’s in English. Like, when you go fast– [COUNTING BEAT]—- and
they’re just not quick enough to follow, because they
don’t have the monitors yet, or at least, like, the double
bass is somewhere there. And the violas will be on
the other side of the hall. And they have to go– [CLAPPING]—- and–
[COUNTING BEAT].. And when the sound comes,
it’s already too late. So they actually have
to ignore the sound, but they have to only
follow the conductor. SPEAKER 1: Wow. OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
And [INAUDIBLE] taken from the folk
music, these techniques. And that’s where it
actually was the real test that it works for Victor, and
he was able to hold it together. SPEAKER 1: That’s amazing. Yeah, he definitely
held it together and when he closed as well. ANTON JABLOKOV: Because we
could talk to him at home and prepare everything. And you know, we could have
a professional conductor. We meet him 10 minutes
before the rehearsal, and then it is not
enough time, probably. SPEAKER 1: OK, that’s great. ANTON JABLOKOV: I
mean, it would work. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: They would
sometimes underestimate how– SPEAKER 1: About what the
expectations are as well. Yeah, that’s fair enough. So you both have very busy
lives, by the sounds of it. And we’ve talked a little bit
about your lives over lunch. Can you tell us about–
like how do you manage that? You’re a musician,
you’re a promoter, but you were also a student– your parents– how do you
juggle that lifestyle? [LAUGHTER] ANTON JABLOKOV: Mine is
not so difficult. For me, the difficult thing was the
studies and playing concerts. So I always had to organize
also with the teachers at school and professors, because
it’s very risky. Either they are happy that
you play the concerts, or they say you
shouldn’t study if you want to do your career now. SPEAKER 1: OK. ANTON JABLOKOV: So it was a real
struggle for all these years. I had to organize and
write letters to the school to let me go for a month
there, for a month there. SPEAKER 1: And were
most of your professors forthcoming and happy with
you to go and perform? Or did you have some who
were a bit more strict? ANTON JABLOKOV: They were all
happy, actually, because– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: The last
school was very good, but– ANTON JABLOKOV:
The last school– it’s not even the professors. I mean, your violin
professor, they don’t care. They are happy to play concerts. It’s more about the
headmaster of the school and music theory
teachers and this. SPEAKER 1: And so you’ve got
the balancing all the family life, the touring,
performing, and then marketing and promoting as well. But you’re running a
small business, really, so what’s that like? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: It is,
sort of, a small business. So it can be very hard. And in the relationship, it
can be quite difficult as well. Like in the last three weeks,
I’ve seen my wife and kids for a total of 20 minutes. And for a week, they actually
had to get out of the house, and they went for a holiday. SPEAKER 1: Just leave you alone. [CHUCKLES] VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah. I mean, it is
really much that you start working at
7:00 in the morning, and you finish at 1:00 AM. And you just have to go
with it, because that’s what you are doing. At the moment, I like to do– and it’s a bit of
my own fault. I like to be in charge of
too many things, maybe. So I promote. I do stage managing. I do library. And I do– I mean, everything for the
music, and the promotions, and then production-wise,
and so on. But obviously, as I
said, we’re highlighting different people for that. So I can be hoping to actually
become a violinist, which is only about 10% of my– or 20%– SPEAKER 1: Job these days. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Job these days. And I still need to spend
about four hours a day with it. So that would be– SPEAKER 1: There you go. And we’re going to go
to audience questions in a little while, so have a
think about something you’d like to ask the guys. I was chatting to Hugo, one
of our volunteers, yesterday, and I got some questions. He was wondering, could you
describe your most memorable performance, good or bad? Most memorable. ANTON JABLOKOV: I would say,
BBC [INAUDIBLE] because of the– SPEAKER 1: Yeah? Last year? Was that last year? ANTON JABLOKOV: A
year and a half ago. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. ANTON JABLOKOV: It was
just a really big concert, because there were
12,000 people. And it was very special for us– a big surprise. SPEAKER 1: That was
in Belfast, was it? ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. And what did you perform? ANTON JABLOKOV: About six– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: I
don’t remember which show, but I only remember
that because we were the only one being
broadcasted to the main BBC TV, or whatever. There was [INAUDIBLE]. It was big. It was on the Russian
[INAUDIBLE],, so that went well. ANTON JABLOKOV: It went well. Only the interview– actually,
we spoke after we played. [INTERPOSING VOICES] ANTON JABLOKOV: I so
concentrated on the music that the moderator–
the presenter– she was asking
something, and I totally forgot to listen to her. So I was like [INAUDIBLE]. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: And
we were live there. And she asked him something,
and he looked at her like, did you ask me anything? You know? [LAUGHTER] ANTON JABLOKOV: Of
course, I really didn’t hear the question. And I was like, excuse me? Then she repeated. I didn’t hear what she repeated. SPEAKER 1: Oh, no. [LAUGHS] ANTON JABLOKOV:
It was a disaster. [LAUGHTER] ANTON JABLOKOV: Oh,
that’s fair enough. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah, you
need to focus on two things. ANTON JABLOKOV: Now it wouldn’t
happen on your [INAUDIBLE].. SPEAKER 1: Oh, that’s good. ANTON JABLOKOV: I hope. SPEAKER 1: [LAUGHS]
You’re doing good, so far. Is it the same for you? Is that your most memorable
performance, Vladimir? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Well, with
the two of us, probably, yes. SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm. And as a solo artist? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Solo artist– a bad way what I
remember, generally, if you get the flu or
something during the– which it used to
happen to me before I run the series of
Christmas concerts where I bring more
family members. And I used to do,
like, 15 concerts in December, one after another. And it was about two or
three– maybe three years ago. I felt really terrible,
like I’m not managing it. And I don’t know
what’s happening, but I was just sleeping
through the days, whatever. I couldn’t speak properly,
and I was actually presenting those
shows and leading the orchestra, no conductor,
and all those things. And I remember, I
just didn’t know– one concert was
I didn’t remember how I walked on the stage
and how I got off the stage. But I mean, the next year,
we still sold the tickets, so I guess I did
something right. SPEAKER 1: Or it was
entertaining in some form. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
And then, we finished about the 21st of December. And we were doing one event
in [INAUDIBLE] on the 29th, I think, or something
like that, of December. And my wife was
saying, you know, you should go and
check with the doctor. And I said, I’m completely fine. There is nothing wrong
with me, like I feel great. And she was pushing at me
so much that I said, OK, I’m going to go to the GP. And she put this whatever on my
finger, checking the oxygens, whatever. She looked at me like,
how I was standing. And I had really
strong pneumonia. I had everything else together. And I played those
concerts [INAUDIBLE].. And I was actually
going to be fine. That was fine. But you cannot be sick. That’s one difficult
thing about musicians, that you just have
to keep going. So those would be the ones. But you have to learn then how
to not be run down too much. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. Yeah, Because the
show must go on. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah. And now, I didn’t get sick for
the last three years or so. Since then, I never got
sick for the concert. And also, I know when we finish
something like a big tour, I need 24 hours off– no
e-mails, no phone calls, nothing. Just sort of sit back in
the garden, or in the room, or something, not
to talk to anyone. SPEAKER 1: OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
And then, I can– I wasn’t sick for Christmas. SPEAKER 1: OK. So you’re managing it. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And before, it was seven years. You know, Christmas
day, and I went– [CHOKING SOUND] But after the concerts,
generally, and then once it hit me [INAUDIBLE]. SPEAKER 1: OK, we’re
glad you’re managing it. So that’s good. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: So that’s
the most memorable thing, I got sick, you know? But back then, when I was in
on the streets, [INAUDIBLE] brought me to
Carnegie Hall once. That was, I think,
2006 or something. I don’t know now. That was many, many years
ago, so I don’t remember. That was a huge occasion
for me back then. It would be for any musician. SPEAKER 1: Yeah,
for any musician. Yeah. Very impressive. So anyone in the audience
with a burning question? We have a question over here. AUDIENCE: Very nice to meet you. And thank you for
coming in today. I wanted to know if–
you’ve performed presumably with many artists
over the years. Do you find a
different connection when you’re playing
with each other? And does that make
the music more magic? Do you find it easier to perform
with each other, as opposed to performing with somebody
who’s not a relative? ANTON JABLOKOV: It depends
who you perform with. You know, if you are
with a super musician, it’s very easy to play,
even without rehearsal. But of course, when we
play for so many years, we know how we move, we
know how to show things, so it works much easier. Because everyone has his
body language, for example. So if you don’t
know the language, it’s sometimes hard
to be together. And that’s the most
important thing, if you play music, to
be together in time. Otherwise it
doesn’t sound right. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: There is
some other body language, as he said. Like, we know when we
look at each other, sometimes, we don’t have to say
what bar we are trying from, because we already know
where was the mistake. As if it were other musician,
he would actually not even say that there was any mistake. He would not– it was fine. Oh, If it was– him, we would just
have to try it again. So it is much quicker progress. And as we spoke before,
it has to do also with being able to criticize
each other [INAUDIBLE].. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah, because
if you are with someone you see for the first
time, you can’t tell him, you are out of tune,
you are not good. Because they will just
go away or hate you. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: And
never work with you again. Yeah. Yeah. ANTON JABLOKOV: So
it’s so nice with him. I can tell him
anything, I think. SPEAKER 1: OK, that’s great. Thanks, [INAUDIBLE]. Any other questions in the room? AUDIENCE: I had a little
question about your childhood. Do you think that, if you didn’t
grow up in a musical family, you would still be
where you are today? ANTON JABLOKOV: It’s
very hard to say. I wanted to be a football
player, actually, when I was nine, 10. My father said to me,
OK, you can do it. But he was not happy, I knew it. And he also took my violin. He said, OK, you don’t want
to play violin, so don’t play. And after a week, I came
back that I wanted my violin. I always play
football, you know, so for the villages,
but as a hobby. So I don’t know. Maybe I would do some other
job, but sport or music would be the preference. SPEAKER 1: That’s great. On that note,
actually– so Vladimir, if you had left your violin in
Slovakia all those years ago, what would you have done? If you hadn’t called
Dad, and stuck it out– ANTON JABLOKOV: Cab driver. SPEAKER 1: Yeah? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: I
always loved nature. But also to do
something with nature– I always wanted to
do business as well. So I was even
thinking I would go and try to do something–
a fisherman business or something like that. It could easily go in that
direction a little bit. But when I look at it now, I
would still get a violin here for 100 years, to
get by for some time, and then obviously, probably,
fly and take my own violin. But if we didn’t grow up
in the musical family, it’s very hard to say. Because you
generally, I think, I feel, in this sort of–
whether it’s a business, whether it’s a sport,
or whether it’s music, some of those professions
would be passed on from the generations. And there is generally one black
sheep going somewhere sideways, which I was nearly there. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: You bore that
cross for the others. That’s good of you. Lots of other questions,
I think, in the– AUDIENCE: Hey. The program you played at
[INAUDIBLE] was quite eclectic. And I never thought I’d
hear [INAUDIBLE] being sung by the audience at
the national concert hall. But then what songs
did you try to arrange and just rejected because
you didn’t think they worked? [LAUGHTER] VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
There was from ABBA. ANTON JABLOKOV:
There were a few. We did a very unknown
Oh, which one? ANTON JABLOKOV: OK, I forgot it. Well, we can talk
about the other ones. We did Saint-Saens,
“Dance Macabre” last year, and we loved the music. And we played it on the shows. But people were
clapping, somehow, not really enthusiastic. So we decided to keep
the piece for the future. And then– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Yeah, “Marionette.” ANTON JABLOKOV: “Marionette.” There was a song by ABBA. We loved it, and
it was so modern. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: There
were a lot of different bar counts and [INAUDIBLE]. ANTON JABLOKOV: Jazzy things. But again, people were
not really reacting, so we recorded it. We have it at home. We can listen to it. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: So there were
ones that you actually brought right to the
stage to perform, and then decided, oops. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: No,
it is OK when you have 20, 22 songs during one show. So you can throw
in a few new ones and see how people are
going to react to this. So you do test every time. ANTON JABLOKOV: It’s sometimes
also hard for us musicians, because we heard so
much music and so much contemporary music
that, somehow, we don’t know sometimes what’s
contemporary for people. So what we thought was
actually really understandable was not understandable
for the majority. AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE]
I play viola, and I have a string quartet. And we do a ton of weddings. And there are always
a few things we get asked to play that we
just hate, and a few which are really unusual. So we were asked to play
Radiohead’s “No Surprises,” down the aisle for one bride. [LAUGHTER] I was just wondering,
are there any pieces you guys just
really hate playing, but you know that you have to
do them because they’re popular? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
During the show, I don’t think we
do any of those. ANTON JABLOKOV: Now, we
didn’t have any more. Before, when I played his
shows as a second violin– [LAUGHTER] –I always had two or
three pieces I liked. The rest, I was just
suffering there. [LAUGHTER] And now, I actually
don’t have anything I don’t like in the show. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: No,
we do filter everything that we actually enjoy. But the only thing sometimes
happens, that the audience doesn’t enjoy it. But we have to eliminate
those and find something else that we like. And also the way you put
the tunes in the order, sometimes something
can really work well and everybody loves it. But if that tune went
after the different song, it just wouldn’t work at all. SPEAKER 1: Yeah, the
then I used to play also weddings in Ireland. And that was the biggest
suffer, I think, for us both. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah, because
we played the same program every week, and– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Or
three or four times a week. ANTON JABLOKOV:
We shouldn’t even say what we hate, because
most of the people they love these songs. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: No,
we shouldn’t say it. ANTON JABLOKOV: No,
we can’t say it. SPEAKER 1: But
with weddings, it’s the same songs
every single week. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
I did overdo it. Like, I used to do over 200
events a year in Ireland. SPEAKER 1: Oh, OK. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
So I actually did reach the top of what
you could possibly do in the country of 4
and 1/2 million people. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. [LAUGHTER] He’s played at
everyone’s wedding. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Well,
you would be surprised, but yeah, I did. [INAUDIBLE] SPEAKER 1: Did you play
at your own wedding? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Me? SPEAKER 1: Yeah. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: No, he did. ANTON JABLOKOV: I played. SPEAKER 1: You played. And did you play then for– ANTON JABLOKOV: No,
I didn’t ask him. [LAUGHTER] No, because I had a
very small wedding. Nobody was playing,
nobody was singing. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: He didn’t
allow anyone to have speeches. ANTON JABLOKOV: And
nobody was dancing. SPEAKER 1: No? No speeches or anything? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: No speeches. ANTON JABLOKOV:
This was my wife. She didn’t want any speeches. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
No, he didn’t want. ANTON JABLOKOV: Me neither. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: Fair enough. I’ll have you play
at my wedding. So I’ll book you in now. I’ll give you
We only do about five or six weddings a year now. SPEAKER 1: OK, that’s fine. I can fit in there. ANTON JABLOKOV: He
will have a new one. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Only one, yeah? SPEAKER 1: Only one. Only one wedding. Yeah, that’s the plan anyway. [LAUGHS] I have another
audience question? Right at the other
side of the room. AUDIENCE: Myself, I
started playing piano at the age of eight. I come from– be it not quite
as musical as your family, but between the
five of us, there was also some 13
instruments going around. And my parents really pushed
for me to pick up an instrument. And we had a piano at home. And I started playing the piano. But probably also because
of sheer lack of talent that, after seven or eight years
of intensive piano playing, I kind of gave up on it. And in retrospect, it took
me about another 15 years to now start missing it. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah. AUDIENCE: And I figure that
if I started missing it a little bit sooner,
I would have probably picked it up again. So when you look at your future
and potential kids and whatnot, do you have any
advice of how you would keep your kids motivated
in playing music and picking up an instrument and such? ANTON JABLOKOV: I think
the first thing is that they have to– like, if they have
musical lessons, it should be a treat,
not a punishment. You know? So I wouldn’t start too soon. Because if they start
at five, if they’re not from musical families, sometimes
they are really happy for one month. And then they just get bored,
and they don’t like it anymore. For example, I have a son,
and he wanted to play guitar. But he was waiting for a year,
for one year, to have lessons. And now, he has lessons. And he thinks it’s a
special thing for him, that he has paid lessons and
he’s enjoying it so much. He doesn’t practice
too much, and I’m not pushing on him because,
otherwise, again, he could think it’s work
and not a nice thing. So now, he’s practicing
only when he wants. And maybe after one
year, I can tell him, look, if you practice,
you will enjoy more, because you can play more songs. And that way, probably
he will stay motivated. SPEAKER 1: Vladimir,
did your daughter sing at one of your concerts? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
She did last year. Yeah. SPEAKER 1: At the
Christmas concert, was it? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah. She liked to be
part of the gang. It’s my oldest daughter. And since she was maybe
three years of age, she said, like, I
want to go with you. So I brought her to one
of the local concerts. And it was in [INAUDIBLE],,
like about 500 people. And she had no problem
coming in and singing, I think, “Jingle Bells,”
or something like that. And actually, now,
after many years, she composed her own
version of “Jingle Bells.” Like, there was
a proper rap song in the middle of “Jingle Bell”– she’s 11. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: She’s gonna
take over the world. That’s amazing. [LAUGHS] VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
She did her own words, everything, the melody. And she had a proper chorus
going there with everyone with her, you know? SPEAKER 1: Actions
and everything. Wow. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: But she
played piano for a few years, and now she wants to
actually pick up the violin. I’m also not pushing
because I feel that if she wants to
really– like with a violin, it’s really the latest
age she could possibly start to actually
become a violinist, because it’s a very
unnatural position to play. So if you start when
you’re fully adult, it’s very unlikely
that they are going to be an actual player
because your muscles are all a different way. SPEAKER 1: Oh, wow. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
But now, she’s still at the age where she could. And she really loves it. And I taught violin for about
six months, or about a year in Ireland. I just thought I want to
try this as an experience. I suffered quite a lot,
and so I’m not teaching. But she did the
progress in one month, more than most of the
students they had in a year. So I think she
could do something. But again, it’s
completely up to her. And she has to see if she
likes the life of what I do and sometimes the way
there is no time at all. For example, for a month, I try
to be with them all the time. But she can see that. ANTON JABLOKOV: On the
other side, sometimes, we have loads of time. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. ANTON JABLOKOV: Now, I’m
at home for four weeks. But then, I’m there
for a few weeks, and I’m 24 hours at home. So I like it, actually. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. That’s great. That’s a good question. Another question here at
the front of the room. AUDIENCE: Yeah. [INAUDIBLE],, I also
play the viola. ANTON JABLOKOV: Oh,
fellow musicians. AUDIENCE: I’m 16, so
I do play at concerts. I’m actually [INAUDIBLE],,
because I picked it up when I actually really
wanted to learn it. So it’s amazing and
inspiring to see all this. So my question is first
like a quick question. I was curious, like why did
you choose to go to Ireland? Like what was it that kind
of drew you to Ireland? VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah. It was a real coincidence. One of my cousins was
here for the summer, and she actually was somewhere
in [INAUDIBLE],, or somewhere in [INAUDIBLE]. So I don’t even
remember where it was. And she showed me
a few pictures. And I said, oh, that looks cool. I took a backpack with
fishing gear out and tent, and I arrived to see
the central Dublin. [LAUGHTER] AUDIENCE: My other question
is, like for example, if you think Nietzsche
as a philosopher– he looks at Wagner, as kind
of dismissing his music as in numb the nerves of society. So I was kind of interested
in your philosophy of what music brings
to people’s lives and what the meaning
is of music for you. ANTON JABLOKOV: Mm-hm. Like with Wagner,
I used to hate him, because he was very arrogant. And so but now, after I
played a few of his pieces in the orchestra,
he was a genius. So he was really good. And only after years
of playing with him– so now, I actually
understand that it’s really nice when you play
concerts that people react. They are happy, and they
can cry in the concert. It’s like in Greece. They say it was like
a cure, medical cure, if you went to
drama, to theater. So you could leave your emotions
without doing anything wrong. And you can cry without– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Being judged. [INTERPOSING VOICES] SPEAKER 1: It’s not
me, it’s the musician. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
You can be happy. ANTON JABLOKOV: Or you
can laugh without being drunk, or anything. SPEAKER 1: Hey, that’s great. That just brings me
onto another question. Yesterday, you
played “Sunflower.” Is it called “Sunflower?” It’s from the
movie, “Sunflower.” ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah, yeah. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. That’s a very emotive piece. ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: Yeah, yeah. SPEAKER 1: Do you
have a favorite movie score, either of you? Or is that an area that you’d
like to delve into sometime? ANTON JABLOKOV: Actually,
when I watch movies, or I’m looking
sometimes for movies, I just put on the movie, and
I listen to the soundtrack. And if the soundtrack is
good, probably the movie’s going to be good. It’s always all connected. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: It is. ANTON JABLOKOV: So all
the big movies have real– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
Because the big movies will have really
good soundtracks. And there will be real
composers working on it. And if you put them, you hear
something very different. You know that this movie– OK. ANTON JABLOKOV:
Also, I mean, you have the “Godfather” soundtrack. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
“Schindler’s List”– you have so many
movies which have great soundtracks, which are
played also at the concerts. SPEAKER 1: Great. So do you think
you’ll start bringing in more songs like “Sunflower”
into your concerts? ANTON JABLOKOV: We may. We already used to play– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: We
mainly also did also– like, my favorite would
be “Godfather,” just even the way they connected the
movie with the soundtrack. I know it’s a very old
movie now, at this stage. But this sort of
thing, musically, and you see the scenes
and everything else, it really reflects
the whole scene. SPEAKER 1: Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] So
yeah, good question. We only have time for one
more audience question. AUDIENCE: Yeah. I have a question about, like,
the awkward relationships you’ve encountered in
the music business. So like when you decided to
leave your last booking agent, or say if you are
approached by a songwriter and you don’t want to
write with that person, has it ever become
really awkward? Do you have any juicy
stories about it? ANTON JABLOKOV:
He’s actually very good in social relationships. I sometimes am
much more emotive, so I would like to argue
or prove someone wrong. But he’ll always
say, no, leave it. You can’t burn the bridges
and all these things. So we actually– VLADIMIR JABLOKOV: I never burn
bridges with anyone, directly. So I deal with the outside. [LAUGHTER] SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] ANTON JABLOKOV:
Actually, all the people we worked with, we have a
good relationship, still. And there are no
problems at all. SPEAKER 1: So we’re
almost out of time. So I’d like to ask
you one more question, and then we might close
with a little performance. I’ve taken this question from
“The Producer’s Perspective.” I adapted it from there. It’s a great podcast
that I enjoy. And I’ll ask both of you. So if you could be
granted one wish, what would your
wish be to change the classical musical scene? What would you want
to fix or to improve? Yeah. Or even, say, the
life of a musician– if you could have one
wish, something that you could change there. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
It’s very hard to say, because it’s not
that straightforward. For example, classical
music was really supported back in the day in
the Soviet Union and so on. But again, whether that’s a very
correct way, you cannot say. In this side of the world,
it’s actually very commercial. You either sell, or
you don’t, you know? SPEAKER 1: Mm-hm. So for it to be more supported. ANTON JABLOKOV:
Both of them have, you know– so it’s very hard to
say what we would change. I think people could
be brought up– and that’s what we are
trying to do and change– that we use really
accessible themes and try to create valuable
classical pieces, or not fully classical, but using
the classical technique. So I think that’s what– ANTON JABLOKOV: I would
say less competitions, like the– because
classical musicians they have competitions. And I think that’s
what destroyed a little bit the music. VLADIMIR JABLOKOV:
you play competition, you have to be perfect. SPEAKER 1: Yes. ANTON JABLOKOV: And
it doesn’t matter if you are musical, sometimes,
or if you are original. Also, my professor, he always
used to say to me, well, how you play, I love it. It’s great. But if you go to a
competition, they will kick you from
the first round. And I don’t like this,
because it should be interesting for people. It shouldn’t be perfect. We can have robots who
can play it perfectly. SPEAKER 1: OK, that’s great. ANTON JABLOKOV: That
would be one thing– that people would have
more space to create their own interpretation. SPEAKER 1: OK. That’s brilliant. Lovely. Thank you both, so
much, for being here. ANTON JABLOKOV: Thank you. SPEAKER 1: And you’re
going to play a– what are you going to
play a little bit for us? ANTON JABLOKOV: Yeah. Just a very small song by Pink. This was one of the
trials for the America. SPEAKER 1: Excellent. [LAUGHTER] The American trial. Thank you, Anton and Vladimir. [APPLAUSE] [VIOLIN MUSIC] [APPLAUSE]


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