Ever since winning one of the most renowned international oboe competitions in 2009, Viola Wilmsen has been performing as a soloist and chamber musician all over the world. She has been highly praised for her “extremely modulated, noble tone”, her “intimate and sensitive playing” and her “great expressive power as a soloist”. Since 2012 she has been principal oboist of the Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin, having previously heldthe same position for three years at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.Viola Wilmsen studied with Diethelm Jonas in Lübeck, Jacques Tys in Paris and Dominik Wollenweber in Berlin.
In 2009 Viola Wilmsen won the first prize at the International Sony Oboe Competition in Japan. In the 30-year history of the competition, she was the first woman and the first German to win this award. She won further first prizes at various competitions, for example the International Wind Competition “AudiMozart!” of the Italian Mozart Society and the Mozarteum Salzburg, at the “Michal Spisak Competition” in Poland, at the “Young Musician of the Year” Competition in England as an oboist and pianist, and at the Beethoven Society in Bonn, as well as the audience award of the “Louis Spohr Competition” in Germany. At the German competition “Jugend musiziert”, she received first prizes in the categories oboe, trumpet, piano and chamber music. Together with her ensemble Berlin Counterpoint, she received the 2013 Usedom Music Prize. At the 2011 German Music Competition she won a scholarship and was selected as a featured artist inthe series “Young Artist Concerts”.
What’s in your oboe bag?
When I go on tour, I usually take with me my double oboe case with my two marigaux oboes and lots of reed cases. Of course my knife is never missing.
Which composers' works do you most enjoy playing?
I just had some beautiful Mozart concertos, which I always enjoy playing, but I also like to play contemporary music, as for example the MacMillan Concerto I played some time ago. In orchestra I love the romantic repertoire, and I adore opera, so I was lucky having the possibility to play Tosca with the Berliner Philharmoniker this season in Baden-Baden.
When you are not playing the oboe, what do you enjoy doing?
I spend a lot of time with my lovely family.
You play in a variety of ensembles. How does playing the oboe differ in these different settings?
Playing in my orchestra is totally different from playing a solo concerto or chamber music. In orchestra I have to take more responsibility compared to chamber music, and of course you need other reeds. In chamber music there is more flexibility and I love concerts where everyone surprises one another with a little bit of unexpected musical interpretation.
But one work inspires the other, so that I am very happy, to have the variety playing in different ensembles.
What concerts / projects you are looking forward to this year?
These days I am very excited about my upcoming CD with works for oboe and piano, which will be out on July 14th.*
Then, there is another very different upcoming project, the birth of my second child. Hence I will enjoy a little bit of time without the oboe, which I deeply recommend to every oboe player some day:)
Any advice for people who would like to explore ways to encourage or promote oboe music and oboe playing?
This Year is the year of the oboe in Berlin and the north of Germany, which is a nice way to promote the instrument and give young people the chance to get in touch with the oboe.
For me the oboe is a very special instrument because of its intense and expressive sound which is very touching.
As a soloist, Viola has performed with orchestras such as the Munich Chamber Orchestra, the Hamburg Camerata, the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra (Japan), the Astana Chamber Orchestra (Yokohama, Japan), the Haydn Orchestra (Italy), the Chamber Philharmonic of Grisons (Switzerland), the Euro Chamber Orchestra (Aachen) and the Classical Philharmonic Bonn.
Viola Wilmsen has appeared all over the world as a soloist and chamber musician and performed at international music festivals like The Next Generation II, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rheingau, “Sandstein und Musik”, Hitzacker, “Kultursommer Nordhessen” as well as the festivals in Gstaad, Geneva and Flims (Switzerland) and Santa Cristina (Spain).
She has performed as a guest with the State Opera Berlin, the Munich State Opera, the Frankfurt Opera, theBamberg Symphonic Orchestra, the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin as well as the Berlin Philharmonic, with conductors including Valery Gergiev, Riccardo Chailly, Andris Nelsons, Christoph Eschenbach, Alain Altinoglu, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Marcus Bosch and Gianandrea Noseda. She appears regularly with the Camerata Bern under the leadership of Antje Weithaas
Viola Wilmsen has received scholarships from the Ad Infinitum Foundation (Sweden), the Foundation Villa Musica and the Jürgen Ponto Foundation as well as from the German Foundation Musikleben and the German Music Council.
She has been portrayed on television by Deutsche Welle as well as WDR 3, and has been heard on the radio stations WDR, NDR, BR, HR and SWR.