Meet Lucie Zalesakova

Reno Phil Violinist
Photo by Gary Stallsworth
Photo by Gary Stallsworth

What year did you join the orchestra?
It was 2015 when I was still living in Portland, Oregon. My husband, Jason Fromme, has been playing violin/viola with the Phil for many years and I got invited to fly in and play as a sub for one of the Classix concerts. After that, I said yes to more concerts because I really enjoyed the people I met here and the time I spent in Reno, so much so that we moved here in 2017.

How did you pick your instrument?
There is a popular saying that every Czech is a musician; but if my best friend hadn’t started taking private piano lessons, I don’t think it would have occurred to my mom to sign me up at our local music school. The lessons were free but one had to audition to get in. Piano was the most popular class and my mother was excited when I was admitted. I hated piano from the beginning, and at the earliest opportunity switched to violin—I was four years old. My mom only found out about the switch when she came to pick me up from the piano class and I was not there. At the time, she was furious; thankfully, she got over it.

When you’re not playing with the Reno Phil, what would we most likely see you doing in your free time?
I began writing music a little over two years ago, and I can spend many hours composing—it is both exhilarating and terrifying! I have a daily yoga practice. My mom introduced me to hatha yoga when I was a kid. I kept it up because playing the violin can be very hard on the body, especially as one gets older.

What genre of music are you most excited to play?
I enjoy playing newly composed music no matter the genre, especially if it is something I need to explore for a while, something I can experiment with. When there are no recordings to live up to, instead there is the possibility of new discovery.

What is your favorite piece of all time to play, and why?
Though I do like to go back to pieces that I have enjoyed and approach them with fresh eyes, my favorite piece is one that is brand new to me and the audience. As I learn to play and interpret a new piece, each one becomes my favorite for a time. Most recently it has been Bourrée Variée, a wonderful and challenging multi-movement solo violin piece by Harry L. Gilbert, a composer who was born here in Reno. It took me almost a year to study, learn and record it. I learned so much in the process!

If you could meet one composer/musician, who would it be and why?
Right now I am obsessed with the Italian violinist, Giuliano Carmignola. His recordings of Vivaldi concerti are wild and rough around the edges and contain so much color and texture. I would like to meet him over a glass of malbec and pick his brain about his musical process.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
Kona coast, Hawaii, the Big Island. I love the ocean, the wilderness, and the sparseness of the landscape. It is where Jason and I were married.

What do you think the audience would find surprising about you?
I’ve been learning to play treble viol, which is a bowed, stringed instrument played on the knee. Viols were very popular in Renaissance music, but fell out of fashion with the development of the modern violin family. It is a humbling experience to be a novice at a new instrument, but also very enjoyable!. I am borrowing the instrument I practice on from my friend Natalie, whom we met through the Reno Phil’s Play For a Day event. Together, she and Jason and I have been exploring the rich repertoire for these instruments: madrigals, fantasias and pavans composed by somewhat neglected geniuses of that era like William Byrd, John Jenkins and many others.

What about performing live music brings you joy?
There are moments on stage, playing with my colleagues, when everything starts to click into place. I remember my sense of purpose, and the world around me feels more open and full of possibility. With a live audience to share that experience and that moment, I feel energized and renewed.