Introduced to the violin at the age of four by her mother’s friend, Mayuko Suenobu, like most classically trained violinists, grew up practicing pieces of music by composers like Beethoven, Bach and Mozart. A natural talent, she received numerous acknowledgments during her youth including a diploma at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians.
As she got older though, she realized playing just the classics wasn’t enough. Interested in a wide variety of music, she began thinking about how she could blend different styles and genres into her compositions.
“Up until the end of University I only played classical music, but I was actually more interested in pop,” she tells Weekender. “I was crazy about Morning Musume, particularly during my high school days. I would listen to their CDs all the time, but being a violinist I didn’t think I could play that kind of music.
Then just before graduating I started to seriously consider which path I wanted my career to go down. Why couldn’t I arrange a classical sound with pop, rock or any other kind of music? The violin has all these possibilities that I had previously not even attempted to explore. I decided to try and mix it up.”
Now aged 27, Suenobu believes that adding more dimensions to her violin playing has helped her develop a lot as a musician over the past few years. It has also given her more versatility; she is able to switch from very traditional, classical concerts to more high-tempo, edgier ones depending on the audience and location.
The show we watched was a lot less formal than you’d expect at a violin recital. Clearly aiming at a younger crowd, there was a lot of energy as well as a romantic cartoon being shown between the songs.
“I always try to include themes when I perform,” Suenobu says. “It could be really happy or something a bit darker. Of course I want people of all ages to come and watch me, but my main target is people slightly younger than myself, late teens to early twenties.
I want to show them that the violin can be dynamic and trendy, I think fashion also has an important role to play in that. The clothes I wear represent my personality when I’m on the stage so I often choose items with a bit of punch or spice.”
Sexy, stylish and talented, Mayuko Suenobu has seen her popularity grow rapidly over the past twelve months or so. Her debut album その先の希望 (Future Hopes) has proved a success while her live shows regularly sell out. Her next goal is to make an impression internationally.
“I performed at the Japan festival in London during the 2012 Olympics, which was amazing,” she says. “The reaction from the crowd was fantastic; it was a different feeling to anything I’d experienced before. I hope their will be more opportunities like that in the future.”