Meet ArtEx participant Sonoko Miriam Welde
13.03.2023 / «Being with ArtEx has raised my awareness about who I am and who I want to be, going forward.»
«Being with ArtEx has raised my awareness about who I am and who I want to be, going forward.»
By participating in ArtEx, the violinist Sonoko Miriam Welde (27) felt safe and secure at a time when she needed it most.
On the night leading up to Sunday 4 September 2022: Sonoko is in a hotel room in the city of Alberta in Canada, trying to find peace and quiet after an intense day’s work. She has participated in the prestigious Banff International String Quartet Competition with the string quartet Opus 13, competing against world class musicians.
Then comes the unexpected message: They are going on to the finals. It looks as if she will have to perform once again in a few hours to her maximum ability.
«We should have been better prepared for the situation», thinks Sonoko. Her performance anxiety trumps her joy – this is never going to go well. At half past two in the morning she sends an inconsolable message to ArtEx coach Kéa Ostovany. Because of the time difference, it is morning in Norway and soon she hears Kéa’s calm voice.
«She did breathing exercises with me for half an hour and we talked through what was going to happen», Sonoko says.
«The fact that she was there for me at exactly the time when things were really scary, meant an awful lot».
She wants to develop as an artist
Sonoko joined Talent Norge’s elite programme ArtEx almost two years ago. The programme allows twelve selected talents access to mentors, coaches and a broad professional network.
«Being with ArtEx has raised my awareness about who I am and who I want to be going forward», says Sonoko.
She was nine yaers old when she debuted as a soloist with Bergen Filharmoniorkester, and ever since then, her achievements have lined up. Sonoko has won several international competitions and has been a soloist with a number of world-famous orchestras. In 2016, she was awarded the Equinor scholarship for classical music, and her record debut with Oslo Filharmonien was nominated for the Spellemannprisen (a significant Norwegian prize) last year.
She is currently taking a break from her master’s studies in performing violin at La Haute Ecole de Musique in Sion, a Swiss town where she has had her base in recent years. Going in for Opus 13 will take a lot of time going forward.
«ArtEx is helping me a lot in the transition from being a young student to becoming a full-time professional musician. We are spending a lot of time getting a balance in my everyday life, finding how to tackle challenges and how to find the way forward.
Network building with ArtEx
With the help of ArtEx, Sonoko has made contact with several important people in the industry, including her former mentor Bengi Unsal, head of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.
«It was inspiring meeting her. I got to know more about what it’s like to work with art from the administrative side», says Sonoko.
At an ArtEx gathering in the autumn of 2021, she met actor and director Iram Haq, who became Sonoko’s current mentor.
«Iram is incredible to talk to, and I want to learn from her attitudes and experiences. I really look up to her and particularly value her versatility».
In recent years, Sonoko has given a lot of thought to how she can develop further as an artist.
«I love what I’m doing and what I’ve done growing up, which is often interpreting old music, but I long to create things in other ways too», says Sonoko.
«I want to use what I know about music to make something across art forms. I need to develop and expand my horizons. »
She’s been given advice on recovery and energy
The support she has received from ArtEx coach Kéa has improved Sonoko’s self-confidence and helped her with techniques for easier recovery and conservation of energy.
«Coaching with Kéa has changed everything. When I’ve been down in the dumps the very thought that I’ll soon be talking to Kéa helps. I’m going to miss that when ArtEx is over», says Sonoko.
During the finals in the competition in Canada she and Opus 13 brought with them the energy from the conversation with Kéa.
«We got a very good second place, which was sensational for us», says Sonoko.
Kéa has made Sonoko aware of her strong points – instead of always focusing on things you can’t do.
«As an instrumentalist you have to find things you can improve on every single day. That means that you also become an expert in finding all the things that are not good», says Sonoko.
She loves nuances and often goes over the details many times. That is why it resonnated with her when Kéa suggested that she look at her brain as an instrument she can practise on.
«One of my greatest challenges has been to accept that I am fallible as a musician. It takes time to change your thought pattern, and it takes time to get over your fear of not being liked and not performing well enough.»
Important contacts through Crescendo
Sonoko has previously taken part in the mentor programme Crescendo, which is part of Talent Norge’s portfolio.
«It changed my life, actually. I got absolutely incredible opportunities to get contacts.»
She still works with Cescendo mentor Leiv Ove Andsnes, and Janine Jansen has been her teacher for several years.
«I really have the nicest and most competent people in my field around me. Everything I was able to experience through Crescendo, of which Talent Norge is a part, was a great gift.»
Programme of Excellence in Performing Arts and film (ArtEx) is an interdisciplinary talent developing programme which is to help top-level artists to further develop themselves artistically and build an interesting and sustainable career. Through the programme you will become part of an extensive national and international network, you will get to take part in interdisciplinary professional gatherings under the auspices of Talent Norge. A support network will be available to you throughout the duration of the programme, consisting of a mentor, a coach and a place on Olympiatoppen’s health service. You will also get an individual scholarship that is to be used for professional development in consultation with your mentor.