1. You began playing the violin at a very young age.
Do you recall your earliest memories of discovering your passion for music?
Yes, my mother always played music in the car and I remember hearing the violin and being immediately captivated—it was then that I asked for lessons.
2. Which composers do you feel most connected to? Why?
That is a hard question! Depends on my mood in many ways—I go through Bach phases, Bruckner phases, Stravinsky phases! At the moment I am relearning the solo Bach sonatas and partitas so I am very much in a Baroque frame of mind.
3. You are privileged enough to possess and play the violin of Yehudi Menuhin. How did the loan from the Elderberry Foundation come about? Of all the music that Menuhin has performed, which is your personal favorite?
It is very special to play on Yehudi Menuhin's violin—he has always been an idol of mine and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to play a violin that he loved. The Elderberry Foundation is very generous to allow me to play on this violin for a limited number of years. I love so many recordings of Menuhin—I have a live recording of the Brahms violin concerto from Royal Albert Hall during the Second World War which is fantastic and really demonstrates him playing at his peak.
4. In your spare time, what other types of music do you listen to besides classical music?
I listen to all kinds of music—hip hop, electronic, rock...In my opinion classifying music according to genre is not particularly useful—good music is good music no matter what the genre.
5. You have performed and traveled quite extensively throughout the world. Which city or country do you feel is quite memorable for you as a performing artist?
I played in Rio a few years ago which was very exciting—such a responsive audience and great atmosphere, which raises your energy as a performer. I also loved the city!
6. Recently, you traveled and performed in Havana and made a short film to document your special trip there. Could you tell us about your experience there?
Well, it was a unique experience to visit Havana with Carlos Acosta and the Royal Ballet and to get behind the scenes, so to speak, of Cuban culture. Again, I had great audiences and it was inspiring to see how positive people are despite having so little. (Editor's note: Please visit: www.charliesiem.com to view the Havana short film)
7. How do you prepare yourself before a performance? Do you need to rehearse or do you prefer the performance to come through naturally?
Absolutely! Practice is an essential part of being a violinist. Each performance requires a lot of preparation in both technical and psychological terms.
8. Is there a new recording project that we should be looking out for from you in 2010?
Yes—I hope to record this summer, although I can't confirm what I will be playing yet.
9. Young people tend to think that classical music is for a mature demographic. As a young musician, what is your view of this and how would you like to change this mindset?
This is an ongoing question in “classical” music! I believe, however, that people of my generation simply haven't been exposed enough to classical music and the wizardry of violin-playing! I think that when they make this discovery they will find a new dimension that will enrich them enormously.
10. Essential listening—Please list your top five "must listen" classical recordings.
Sibelius' Violin Concerto
Bruckner's Symphony No. 8
Bach's solo Cello Suites
Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht
11. The music industry is going through a very unusual yet exciting time. Gone are the days where major-label backing is an absolute must, because there are many ways to get noticed. From your perspective, how does this change affect the classical arena? How do you foresee the promotion of classical music in the near future?
It certainly is an exciting time—boundaries between musical genres seem to be blurring (perhaps because of the Internet) and as a result people are open to all sorts of fresh and creative music.
12. A lot of models are using the modeling route to get into the entertainment industry. In your case, it was the opposite. How did you get signed with Select? What aspect of modeling do you find most appealing? How would you like to envision this particular side of your career in the future?
I got into it to earn some extra money to help support my career as a violinist—my manager hooked me up with Select.
13. How would you describe your style? What type of clothing do you wear in performance vs. in everyday wear?
I guess I try to be fairly smart when I perform—out of respect for the music I am playing. Otherwise I tend to dress according to how I feel!
14. Five things you cannot live without...
My violin! Good books, good food! Good health, I guess—I don't need much really!
15. People would be surprise know this about you...
I love freestyle skiing—maybe a bit stupid as a violin player, as I put my hands at risk.
Bonus Question: Your motto in life.
Take each day as it comes...but plan for the future!?!