I first met James Strauss at a party in Vienna in mid-October 2020 and I must admit I was overly impressed at once! He was introduced to me by our common friend, Vasilis Tsiatsianis, a Greek conductor based in Vienna.
During our conversation I found out that he moved in Vienna just couple weeks before, amid this pandemic, and he was about to make a fresh new start here. I must say that at first I thought that he is either very brave or very crazy. Before the evening would be over, I would be convinced that this man was not only brave, but someone incredibly talented and special. He mentioned that I could find his music n SPOTIFY; so as soon as I arrived home, I started searching for him and his work on the internet.
I was extremely impressed by his discography and his performances around the world as well as from his impactful work with the children of the music-education programme “El Systema” in Venezuela.
Maestro Jeffrey Sean Dokken, the Music Director and Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia, says about him:
“James Strauss is hands down the best flautist I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He is certainly one of the best flute players in the world, with an unbelievable sense of musicianship, impeccable intonation, and the purest tone quality you could ever hope for. He is a true, true master of his craft.”
The more I read about him the more I wanted to get to know him; therefore, I asked him to be one of my guests in our Meet the Artists project. We managed to meet again at the beginning of February, and we had the chance to meet for a warm cup of coffee at his place. Among other things, he explained to me how he literally escaped from Venezuela at the end of 2019, and how he found himself first in Colombia and then in Brazil at the same time as the coronavirus started to spread around the world. And he did not stop there; he took the decision to come to Vienna despite of everything that has been going on.
I was overwhelmed with awe while listening to James Strauss’ inspiring story! A story of an excellent musician who has performed around the world as a soloist with orchestras such as Capriccioso Chamber Ensemble (Finland), Israeli Virtuosi (Israel), Sibiu Philharmonic Orchestra (Romania), Oxford Chamber Orchestra (UK), Tokyo Chamber Orchestra (Japan) and much morel a story of a musician who was, in a way, forced to start over in another country, even in another continent!
At that moment, all my anxiety was vanished. The stress and fear of what tomorrow may bring, when the pandemic will eventually be over, and when this virus will stop troubling us… We cannot fight fear by having pessimistic thoughts and being negative. Instead, we can make music! And we must continue making music, we must continue believing in ourselves and exploring new chances out there!
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Chryso Makariou ©
Listen to James Strauss interview on YouTube by clicking downstairs.