Raphaela Gromes am Cello

“It is absolute passion.”

Interviewing the Audi Christmas Concert’s cellist Raphaela Gromes

Rehearsing in the airplane and her own homage to Rossini: Raphaela Gromes, the 27-year old cellist who will play at this year’s Audi Christmas concert, is multi-talented. In an interview with Audi ArtExperience, she gives us insight into her life as a passionate musician.

Raphaela Gromes posiert mit Cello
Aside from her performances as a solo artist, Raphaela Gromes dedicates her time to chamber music.

You started playing the cello when you were four years old. When did you decide to become a professional musician?

Raphaela: During a masterclass when I was 14. I was the youngest one there, and I suddenly had the feeling that… music grabs me and affects me so much, and I’ve already come so far… that this just had to become my career. From that day on, I was suddenly really excited for the first time. And I knew: if I do this, then it has to be with my whole heart. And with this wholeheartedness came responsibility, because I’m the medium who communicates the ideas that the composer wrote into his notes. I have to play the music for my audience as it was intended.

And now you play a violoncello that was built in 1855 by the violin maker Vuillaume.

Raphaela: Yes. I really believe that the longer the wood has been making music, and the greater the number of people who have played on it, the more personality an instrument develops. A modern cello is a blank slate and has unbelievable potential. But when I have this Vuillaume in my hand, it’s something incredibly awe-inspiring. It is so balanced; I can create any timber that I want. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to play on it.

Raphaela Gromes mit Julian Riem

Cellist Raphaela Gromes and Julian Riem perform as a musical duo.

What is your daily routine like when you aren’t on tour?

Raphaela: There isn’t really a daily routine. Every day brings new tasks and challenges for me. When I’m home, I often spend time researching new pieces, reading about composers, or listening to their works in order to better understand or get to know their tonal language. Then I practice up to five hours a day. My entire day revolves around music. I don’t have a weekend. It’s an extremely captivating, all-encompassing career.

But it’s also a passion, isn’t it?

Raphaela: It is absolute passion. If I didn’t love it wholeheartedly and have the need to express myself through music, then I wouldn’t do it.

Raphaela Gromes spielt Cello

Raphaela Gromes proves her smooth play again and again – for example during a charity concert.

Your new CD “Hommage à Rossini” was recently released. You did a great deal of research for it in advance.

Raphaela: Rossini is one of the great Italian opera composers, the originator and founder of the bel canto, a particularly lyrical style of opera. And I already enjoyed it very much as a child; it brought me a lot of joy, hope, and comfort on days when things weren’t going so well. So this CD is a sort of thank you to Rossini, and also my way of sharing that joy with my audience. The research that I did for it, especially the rediscovery of the piece “Hommage à Rossini” by Jacques Offenbach, which was believed to be lost, was incredibly fun. I see it as my responsibility to share music history and music theory, as well.

What do you have on your schedule before the Audi Christmas concert on December 14, when you will perform with the Ingolstadt Georgian Chamber Orchestra?

Raphaela: I’m going on a trip to East Asia. We’re doing a masterclass, playing concerts, and visiting an SOS Children’s Village. The children will also get free tickets to our concert. Then we come back to the children’s village, rehearse some pieces with them, play and sing together. I’m already excited about getting to play with and for the kids. Outside of the concert house, it’s always important to me to share the joy of music with people who do not normally have access to music.

Georgisches Kammerorchester

The ensemble formed for the Audi Christmas concert under the leadership of conductor Ruben Gazarian.

And can you practice for the Christmas concert on the plane?

Raphaela: I actually can. On the plane I can even practice without a cello! I sing the piece through in my mind and, while I’m doing that, I imagine the strokes that I will make with my right hand — the bow hand, that is. It doesn’t matter whether it’s staccato or legato, up-bow or down-bow, how quick or how dense my bow strokes are; I really go through the entire process in my mind, just as if I were playing. The more you practice doing this, the faster you can go through the process in the future. And when you practice the cello without reading the notes, you suddenly get to the point where it’s routine and you don’t have to constantly think while you’re playing.

What do you find unique about playing with an orchestra?

Raphaela: I’m fascinated by the togetherness that you have in an orchestra. The group dynamic is a sort of flow that feels incredible. And the tonal colors that are possible with an orchestra are especially multi-faceted.

What is really a must for a classic Christmas concert?

Raphaela: Actually, you’d have to have a Bach Christmas oratorio. We aren’t playing that at all. (laughs) Although Haydn is also very Christmassy.

Kammerorchester auf Bühne
With classical works and famous Christmas carols, the cellist Raphaela Gomes and the Ingolstadt Georgian Chamber Orchestra liven up the audience for the holiday season.

In the second movement, there are lots of major third intervals where I always imagine shining tree ornaments and candles in my mind’s eye. I think that a Christmas concert calls for a great deal of inner calm, a smile on your lips, and a humble attitude. And joy. Then everything will be fine.

Audi Christmas concert 2018

Similar to previous years, the Audi Forum Ingolstadt transforms into a concert hall. Cellist Raphaela Gromes and the Ingolstadt Georgian Chamber Orchestra were the ones to play at this year’s concert.

With her brilliance and unlimited enthusiasm, Raphaela Gromes excited the audience at this year's Audi Christmas concert.
The concert hall was full for the Audi Christmas concert 2018.
Raphaela Gromes plays makes music with children from the children's home in Seekirchen.

With her brilliance and unlimited enthusiasm, Raphaela Gromes excited the audience at this year's Audi Christmas concert.

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The concert hall was full for the Audi Christmas concert 2018.

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Raphaela Gromes plays makes music with children from the children's home in Seekirchen.

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