Welcome to our new series "Meet the Musician" where each week we'll go behind the scenes with an exclusive interview with a member of the orchestra. Ever wonder how they got involved with music in the first place? How they became Cal Phil members? What they do in their "spare" time? Check out our new "Meet the Musician" series, conducted by staff writer Christina Linhardt which will be sent out on the weekly e-blast. Just in case you missed it the first time the interviews will then posted on the Cal Phil website, so you can binge read! Just like Netflix, only more exciting!
It is hard not to be star struck by violinist Katia Popov, concert master of the California Philharmonic, as well as the Hollywood Bowl orchestra, for in addition to her accomplishments as a virtuoso, her extensive studio and symphonic playing, she also just happens to look as though she just walked off the cover of Vogue Magazine and onto the concert stage, with her flaxen hair and striking visage. And yet she is a true nuts and bolts crafts-person; gracious, personable,sincere and passionate about the work. "I love it. I love Victor. I love the enthusiasm of the audience." She says about working with the Cal Phil. "And we get to play in this wonderful concert hall. What's not to like?"
Ms. Popov is also a violinist for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, which is in part what brought her to the City of Angels. Born in Sofia, Bulgaria she studied at the Paris Conservatory and then trained under Iona Brown, concert master of the Chamber Orchestra. In addition to the ensembles mentioned above, Katia also is the Principal II Violin of the Long Beach Symphony, founder and first violinist of the Award winning California String Quartet and is the Music Director of the Musical Sunday Afternoons, a popular chamber music concert series in Los Angeles. She was recommended to the California Philharmonic by Hollywood Bowl Orchestra colleague Dennis Karmayzn (who is also Principal cellist of the Cal Phil) and discovered it to be "a perfect fit", appreciating Maestro Vener's diverse programming. "He caters to everyone's taste," she says of Dr. Vener. "If you don't like the first piece, you will like the second. It's a kaleidoscope, which is the way to go in contemporary times." Very true, as the Cal Phil is often referred to as "the people's orchestra", because it introduces many initiates to classical music, and there is a sense of community at concerts, as well. That feeling of community carries over to the musicians Katia observes. "I really like the players," she says of her colleagues. "It is the friendliest orchestra."
Ms. Popov's love for music began at an early age. Her father was a musician, being an oboe player for the Sofia Radio Orchestra and he often brought three year old Katia to rehearsals, where she loved looking at the violins. She begged her parents to buy her a violin and proved her devotion by picking up sticks and pantomiming practicing the instrument, until convinced, her parents bought her her first violin and at age four, and she was on her way. And what a career it has been thus far. In addition to breaking the glass ceiling by being the first female concert master of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, she has performed as a soloist with the Sofia Philharmonic, the European Symphony Orchestra, Sofia Chamber Orchestra, Redlands Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, the Long Beach Symphony and the Santa Monica Symphony, amongst others. And as Katia's father's career influenced her, so has her career influenced her own daughter, Irina, who grew up watching her mother play for the movies shown at the Hollywood Bowl, and now works in film for Steven Spielberg. It is also worthy to mention Ms. Popov has played on over 600 film scores. As if her schedule isn't full enough (and she has numerous more accomplishments and awards that have not yet been listed) Ms. Popov has an eleven year old son at home, loves sports, skiing, biking, yoga and making jewelry. Her diverse and eclectic abilities exemplifies the mastery of the musicians who play for the orchestra, and definitely do make her a "perfect fit" for the California Philharmonic!