60 SECOND INTERVIEW in Metro Herald

Just found this text when I looked through old emails. I don’t think I ever saw this paper…

60 SECOND INTERVIEW

Linda Lampenius

The multi-talented Finnish violinist first came to prominence in Ireland and the UK after being spotted by Andrew Lloyd Webber on an episode of Eurotrash. Dubbed the ‘Bach babe’, Linda has enjoyed a successful career in music and has also modelled for Bjorn Borg and Playboy. More recently she has hooked up with Irish choral group Anúna. Daragh Reddin

The award-winning Celtic Origins music special you performed with Anúna took the US by storm. As a classical musician working with a traditional Irish group was there any conflict of interests?

I’d never played Irish music before the Celtic Origins tour. I was very flattered when Michael [McGlynn, Anúna founder] asked me to perform with the group. He never tried to interfere with my interpretation of the music we recorded and performed. I think that the reason he chose me and not an Irish violinist was that he thought I added a classical touch to the music we played. My way of playing also suited the choir very well, since I always try to ‘sing’ on my violin instead of ‘playing’.

You were first spotted by Andrew Lloyd Webber on an episode of the rather racy Eurotrash. What was it like working on the show?

When I was asked to appear on Eurotrash I had never actually seen it so I was a little surprised when I saw the finished product. But I’m extremely happy that it caught Andrew Lloyd Webber’s eye – and especially his ear.

What was it like meeting him for the first time?

Fantastic. I felt honoured and privileged to be playing the solo in Metal Philharmonic. He was very pleasant and easy to work with.

You caused something of a furore in the mid-1990s with your wardrobe. Were your surprised by the media frenzy?

There was a great misconception that I performed classical music in bathing suits, when the truth was I only ever dressed that way when walking down a catwalk modelling for Bjorn Borg. I’ve always played music wearing long evening gowns.

Did it annoy you that journalists sometimes seemed more fixated with what you were wearing than with your musical talent?

Not really. What annoyed me was the journalists who didn’t bother to check their facts regarding the way I was dressed and mixed up my fashion shows with my concerts.

You’re dubbed the Bach Babe in the British media. Are you proud of making classical music sexy?

I’m happy if I’ve helped bring classical music to a wider audience but my intention has never been to draw focus away from the music.

You took up the violin at the tender age of five. Being a child prodigy was it difficult coping with media attention in your native Finland?

Because I played only classical music from the age of five to 26 I didn’t have to cope with any negative press during that period. But everything changed when I started doing things considered inappropriate for a serious classical musician – like modelling, acting and playing pop/rock. I find it very odd that classical musicians are supposed to stay in their genre and aren’t ‘allowed’ to have fun with other types of music. We should apply the same rules as we do to acting. If an actor excels at both Shakespeare and musicals, we think he or she is very gifted and versatile.

You appeared in an episode of Baywatch. What was it like working with ‘The Hoff’?

David Hasselhof was a great and kind person. He was always very dedicated to his work and to his children. But from what I’ve read in the media he doesn’t seem to be as happy anymore…

Do you get annoyed by the Vanessa Mae comparisons?

Not at all.

Who is your favourite composer?

I’m a big fan of the romantic composers, especially Brahms, though I can’t say I have a particular favourite. My biggest love is opera.

Tell me about your forthcoming album

It’s an album of Christmas carols, I’m so excited about recording the material that’s been specially arranged for solo violin, string quartet, harp and choir. The actual recording will take place in a wonderful church in the south of Sweden in August.

Linda Lampenius performs with Anúna and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in An Irish Journey Through Time, Jul 30, National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace D2, 7.30pm, e9 to e35. Tel: (01) 417 0000. www.nch.ie