COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Alexandra Soumm moved away from home at 9 years old. She wasn’t allowed to play sports growing up, and she dropped out of school at age 16.
Today, she’s an internationally renowned violinist.
Soumm was born in Moscow to a Russian mother and Ukrainian father and began learning violin from her father at the age of five, when they lived in France. By age seven, she was performing in concerts and practicing two or three hours a day.
When Soumm, also known as Sasha, was nine years old, her parents sent her to Vienna, Austria to work with a violin teacher, and there, she spent the next 15 years practicing violin for hours each day. She dropped out of school at 16 to study and practice violin all the time.
Now, at 29, she lives in Paris and performs for audiences around the world. By all measures, she is successful, but what matters most to her is giving back. Seven years ago, she said, she began her own charity to play music for people who are sick, elderly or homeless.
On Thursday, at Columbus Collegiate Academy on the east side of Columbus, Soumm’s audience was a classroom full of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who all play string instruments.
“It was very important for me to come and play for different schools also during my stay,” Soumm said.
Soumm arrived from Paris on Wednesday and will perform with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra on December 8 and 9. On Thursday, she was scheduled to meet with classes at two different schools in Columbus to speak with and perform with students.
“Her enthusiasm playing, how she moved, along with the music,” Saydie Carter, a seventh-grader who plays violin, said of what she liked about Soumm’s visit.
Carter said she, too, wanted to play professionally in the future.
“It was like very inspiring,” Carter said. “I want, one day, to be able to play like that.”
Jaishawn Bitting, another seventh-grade violinist, agreed.
“It was amazing cause just like hearing what I could be in a couple years and put in more work is just like inspiring,” he said.
For Soumm, this is a chance to give back to others.
“I was very lucky to have a dad and a teacher, many teachers around the world, who helped me to grow and understand and express myself, and I think it’s very important for any child to have access to different music,” Soumm said.
Soumm’s performances with ProMusica will take place at 5:30pm on Saturday, December 8 at Worthington United Methodist Church and at 7:00pm on Sunday, December 9 at the Southern Theatre.