Léonie Sonning Talent Prize 2020
The dilemma faced by a competitive musician
With a father who is a classically trained guitarist, a mother who is a radio host on the Danish DR P2 channel and a younger brother who plays the cello, Adam was exposed to a lot of classical music throughout his childhood. It was therefore quite natural for him to pick up an instrument at an early age. At the age of five, Adam chose the violin.
Throughout most of Adam’s childhood, however, music got strong competition from different types of sports, mainly badminton and tennis. As a competitive person the badminton tournaments were a good way of getting rid of some outward-oriented energy. Music, on the other hand, required inward and immersive focus.
“I actually didn’t know which road I would take before I had to choose. Otherwise I would never reach a high level”, Adam explains about the point in his life when his many sports activities were downgraded to hobbies.
Already at a young age Adam was asked to make an important decision. Because when you live in a rural community such as Præstø in southern Zealand, you need to travel long distances to get your children to sports and music lessons. After having driven thousands of kilometres, with no discernible progress on the music front for a while, Adam’s mother asked her then 8-year-old son if it was maybe time to downgrade the music? The answer was a definite no.
“From that point onwards I felt that this was my own responsibility”, says Adam with a certain pride in his voice. It was a decision which probably also made it easier for him at a later stage to choose between sports and the violin.
Travelling is developing
To Adam competitions and the psychological pressure they involve are a necessary evil. It is first and foremost about pushing yourself to the limit and developing through intensive practice. The travelling that is also part of it suits Adam down to a tee.
“When you play classical music, it’s important to be aware of the cultures and the history which the music is shaped by. Travelling gives you a completely different impression than reading about something in a book,” says Adam about his love of travel.
As a violinist it is important to Adam that the music is created in the moment and that his performances are guided by the moment. For that reason he has started to develop different ways of playing the same piece so that when on stage, he can choose a version with a particular expression based on the atmosphere at that moment.
You can prepare every little detail in the rehearsal room, including how you want to play the concert – but doing that you will only disappoint yourself because you can never live up to the standard you have set for yourself. If you add just a small element of playful improvisation, you will, according to Adam Koch Christensen, always feel that you were present and you did your best.
Adam Koch Christensen in brief
Born in 2000. Grew up in Præstø.
Started playing the violin at the age of five.
Has been studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Music since 2016.
At an early age Adam won 1st prizes and gold medals nationally and has also won international prizes at e.g. the international Tibor Varga violin competition in Switzerland (2019) and the W. A. Mozart competition in Salzburg (2020).
In 2019 he was appointed Alternating Concert Master in the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra in Wroclaw, Poland. He has also been awarded both Jacob Gade’s great grant as well as jubilee grants from the Augustinus Foundation.
Has participated in a long range of international master classes with prominent artists such as Leonidas Kavakos, Gerard Schulz, Mihaela Martin and more.
The scholarship from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation
Adam will use the money from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation to cover travel costs in connection with competitions and master classes abroad.