Welcome to Day 5 of our Virtual Artistic Residence with Elena Toponogova.

“I first met the Norwegian violinist, Elisabeth Turmo, in 2015 at the Royal College of Music in London where we were both studying at the time.

Elizabeth Turmo @Elizabeth Turmo Website

I was looking for someone to play chamber music with and the first person to answer the call I put out was violist Johan Höglind who happened to be a friend of Elisabeth. That’s how we started, playing a quartet by a Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu.

I remember struggling with learning the piece and asked Elisabeth to help by playing her part together with mine without the viola and cello. That first rehearsal with her was such a relief as everything in the piece then became clearer for me.

Elisabeth was also very supportive and seemed like a person from a completely different world. She had somehow managed to stay out of the college’s highly competitive and pressured environment; I myself have never experienced any feeling of judgement or negative criticism from her. In fact I’ve learnt from her how to be kinder to myself as well other important qualities such as self-care and wellbeing.

We gradually started to play more together as a duo and what amazed me the most is how we were able to understand each other without words. It seemed that we were naturally matched as a perfect duo. We were lucky to perform together for the first time at the V&A Museum, St.Martin-in the-Fields, Regent Hall and many other venues.

When I was a child, Elisabeth’s home country, Norway, always seemed to me like an unreachable land – a dream country that I would hardly ever be able to visit…But you never know what life will bring, and in 2017 I made my first visit to Elisabeth’s home town of Mosjoen, a small community in the north of Norway.

I remember we first took a plane from London to Trondheim followed by a 5-hour train ride to Mosjoen. No words can describe how beautiful this place is with its mountains, lakes and, most important, the wonderful people living there who welcomed me like a member of their family. I later travelled to Oslo where, again, I felt as if I were at home (in Siberia) with snow, minus temperatures and a real winter all around. 

I last saw Elisabeth in December 2019 and, with all the current uncertainty, I’m not sure when we will be able to meet and play together again even though we had several events planned for October this year. During lockdown we tried to do our best to stay connected and had regular Skype sessions sending each other recordings of pieces we would like to play in future.

In the meantime in my mind’s eye I keep returning  to those first rehearsals when we experienced so much joy playing together and hope we will see each other again soon”.