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Classical Notes

The musician competing in the Olympic Games

Posted at 6:00 AM on February 8, 2014 by Luke Taylor
Filed under: Fun finds, In the media

Much attention was paid (with good reason) to the classical music featured in the Winter Olympics' opening ceremonies. But there's also a violinist who's competing in the women's slalom in the Winter Games.

Fred Child, host of Performance Today, recently shared the story of Vanessa-Mae, a violinist who was raised in and lives in the U.K., but who has been skiing since the age of four — before she began playing violin.

Mae is described as a classical crossover artist; at age five, she was studying with Felix Andrievsky at the Royal College of Music in London. At nine, Vanessa-Mae made her concert debut with the Philharmonia Orchestra and toured England playing the Tchaikovsky concerto. In her teens, however, Mae began combining classical music elements with synthetic beats, creating a dance-club sound. She's sold millions of albums — particularly in Asia — and her fortune is valued at more than $50 million.

But she hasn't relinquished her dream to ski in the Olympics, and she recently just squeaked into qualification. Vanessa-Mae will represent Thailand through her father's nationality, and she'll compete as Vanessa Vanakorn, using her father's surname.

Vanessa-MaeVanessa Mae pictured at a Slovenian skiing center in January 2014 (AP photo)

Qualifying for the Olympics is a major accomplishment, but the violinist has modest expectations for the Games. "When it comes to music, I am a perfectionist," she told BBC Sport. "When it is skiing, I have no delusions about a podium — or even being in the top 100 in the world."