Australia-based, Russian-British violinist Dunja Lavrova is a performer, tutor, arranger and innovator whose music research focuses on creative projects that blend musical genres and performance traditions. Dunja transcends the traditional norms and expectations of classical violinists, drawing on her extensive training and professional performance experience, as well as her experience as an improviser and educator, to create practice-led research at artistic levels suited to the modern world.
Dunja began her musical studies in St Petersburg, Russia, where she attended the legendary Special Music School. During her studies there she won numerous competitions, toured Germany and Peru, and frequently appeared on National Television, feats all achieved by the age of 11. At just 13 years of age, Dunja won a full scholarship at The Yehudi Menuhin School and migrated to the UK.
Dunja continued her education at the Royal College of Music, completing both Bachelor and Postgraduate performance qualifications there. She won various awards during this time, most notably The Tagore Gold Medal, presented to her by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, and the Young Artist of the Year at the Arts Club, Mayfair, presented by Sir David Attenborough. She has participated in masterclasses with some of the world’s best-renowned professors, including Mstislav Rostropovich, Igor Oistrakh, Pierre Amoyal, Zahar Bron, Zvi Zeitlin, Dora Schwarzberg, Robert Levin and many others.
Dunja has performed as concerto soloist with various orchestras, including the Russian National Television and Radio Orchestra, The Concert Orchestra of St Petersburg, English Symphony Orchestra, Russian Virtuosi of Europe, Kent Sinfonia, King's Chamber Orchestra (London), Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra, London Concertante and others. She has also performed in world-renowned venues, such as Russia's Philharmonia Grand Hall in St Petersburg, Moscow's Bol’shoy Theatre; London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, Kings Place, Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Soho Jazz Club and Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club; and has performed in many other concerts and festivals around the U.K., Europe, Russia and South America. As a chamber musician, Dunja has given recitals at various prestigious venues in London such as Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Soho Jazz Club and appeared on French National Television with Ensemble Metamusika, of which she is the Leader and Director.
”No praise can be too high for violinist Dunja Lavrova. She proves herself on a level of the great fiddlers of the past"The Independent (UK)
Fanatical about the playing style of the violinists of the early 20th century and on a self-proclaimed mission to bring the scores and the playing style of that period to the audiences of today, Dunja released her highly acclaimed ‘authentically-recorded’ debut album in 2015, after signing a record deal with Solo Musica / Naxos. The album, entitled My Dusty Gramophone, was produced in the style of mid-20th century studio records: it was recorded on vintage equipment using live takes and mastered on analogue tape with minimal reverb. The album has received numerous positive reviews and significant media attention worldwide, including airplays on BBC Radio 3, a review in BBC Music Magazine and a full feature in Classical Music Magazine's May 2015 issue.
As an internationally-acclaimed classical violinist with a deep understanding of non-classical genres, free improvisation and score arranging, Dunja has participated in collaborative projects with a number of musicians from eclectic backgrounds. Dunja frequently performs with various Jazz, Pop and Rock artists, including well known artists such as: Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Seth MacFarlane, Hugh Jackman, Liane Carroll, Gwylim Simcock, Cliff Richard, Il Divo and many others. In collaborative contexts, she has appeared on dozens of CD albums, which have received releases and critical acclaim worldwide.
Dunja has also regularly led string sections alongside Big Bands, including the sold-out performance of Music of Bond with Kate Ceberano in Melbourne in 2019. Since 2012, Dunja has been a member of the John Wilson Orchestra, a group that explores the cinematic and musical repertoire and the performing style of Hollywood’s orchestras from the first half of the 20th century. In 2015, Dunja became the Leader of the London Symphonic Rock Orchestra, a group that tours extensively with world's greatest tribute bands, including Sweden's Abbamania: The Show and Denmark's Queen Machine. She is the orchestra leader in Showtime Australia's The Greatest Love of All: The Whitney Houston Show, and performed regularly for London's West End Production of The Book of Mormon.
The musical projects of which Dunja is creative director are characterised by their eclecticism, spontaneity and creativity. These projects range from her authentically-recorded debut classical album and her vintage-themed, narrated performances, through to the electrifying videos on her YouTube channel, a spellbinding Jazz Fusion project and her surprising arrangements of Rock anthems for strings. Most recently, Dunja has created a show with internationally-acclaimed, Melbourne-based pianist Tamara Vasilevitsky, which showcases a broad spectrum of musical genres and has been performed on multiple occasions to sold-out audiences.
Dunja is creator, director and lead arranger of Dunja Lavrova and The Hot Three, which features her as lead violin virtuoso soloist supported by a jazz trio. This project involves a fusion of music from the classical, traditional jazz and vintage Hollywood traditions, along with an original and modern twist.
In 2017, Dunja became an editor of archived scores for Carl Fischer Music, a company responsible for publishing the most popular transcriptions by the legendary violinists of the Golden Age Era, including Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler and Misha Elman, among many others. Continuing in that great tradition, Dunja enjoys arranging, transcribing and composing music herself, and has supplied her arrangements in a professional capacity to performers and institutions alike. Dunja’s most popular arrangement is of the Russian song Dark Eyes, her performance of which has been viewed over 100,000 times on YouTube.
Award-winning violinist Dunja Lavrova has considerable experience in teaching violin, viola, chamber music, musicianship, piano and general music. She has taught both privately and at schools since 2001. Ms Lavrova’s students have achieved consistently high grades for their ABRSM exams in the U.K. from the outset.
In the first year of her 4-year Bachelor of Music studies at the Royal College of Music, London, Dunja participated in the RCM Student Associates Scheme - an approved programme supported by UK’s official Teacher Training Agency (TTA). Throughout the duration of the internship-style, classroom teacher-training program, Dunja was assigned to teach small groups and large classes in both primary and secondary school settings; she was given valuable feedback and was commended for her teaching performance from the TTA Assessor and from each school’s music director and pre-service teacher training supervisor.
Passionate about education, Ms Lavrova enrolled for the ‘Education and Outreach’ study module at the start of the second year of her BMus course. This is where Dunja’s skills for inspiring children and adults through music & music education accelerated significantly. The module required student’s to work for a year with two other classmates on developing and executing programmes for groups of children and adults from various cultural backgrounds and socio- cultural environments. Those education and outreach programmes were designed to inspire individuals of various age groups either to undertake instrumental music studies or to help them overcome various personal obstacles (eg. mental health or social difficulties) through musical experiences. The module required participants to conduct substantial research to inform written assignments focused upon educational psychology and the sociological and psychological aspects, benefits and potential pitfalls of outreach programs.
It was during her 2nd year at the RCM that Dunja became inspired to explore the effects of music on mental health – both as a creative outlet and especially as a “mindful” activity. Her research and major paper for the ‘Education and Outreach’ study module has resulted in Dunja’s ongoing involvement in a range of activities and events that support mental health programs and initiatives focused upon the positive aspects and outcomes of music and the creative arts.
Through the years of extensive, action/practice-led research, Ms Lavrova has developed an “holistic” approach to teaching violin, one which encourages self-expression and self- improvement through music practice and performance via the “mindful” use of the body. She believes that the way we learn is closely connected to our “mindset”, lifestyle and general habits. She suggests that a basic understanding of our physical bodies and human psychology is required to achieve the most effective and fulfilling results for any undertaking, and especially when learning something as complex as a musical instrument. Dunja believes that developing a strong connection between mind, body and “soul” (or “self”) is a vital component of instrumental music learning and teaching.
Dunja was initially introduced to meditation, yoga and Alexander Technique when she was a student at The Yehudi Menuhin School in 1999 but began her dedicated daily practice of mindfulness-based meditation and various intensive styles of yoga 6 years ago.
In 2019 she completed the Transcendental Meditation Training course in Melbourne and is currently working to complete her Yoga Teacher Training Certificate (full Yoga Alliance certification) with ULU Yoga School.
Between 2003-2006, Dunja was a fine instruments advisor and specialist at Martin Phelps Music, London. Since graduating from the Royal College of Music in 2009 with First Class Honours (Bachelor of Music) with Distinction and Tagore Gold Medal - Advanced Postgraduate Diploma, Ms Lavrova has managed various professional projects.
Dunja is fascinated by improvisation - both in music and in life. She received extensive improvisation tuition throughout her musical studies - both at school and at The Royal College of Music. She frequently includes improvisation in her own concert performances.
Ms Lavrova currently teaches violin to groups and individuals (years 4-6) at Bialik College (Melbourne) and at her home / online studio in Torquay, Victoria. She is the creator and director of DunYa Centre of Creative Harmony in Torquay and online. Previous employment in education (groups and individual lessons) include: Millfields Community School (London, UK) and Ealing Junior Music School (London, UK) among others.