Sophie Solomon

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Sophie Solomon
Sophie Solomon performing in Cambridge, March 2006
Background information
OriginLondon, England, United Kingdom
Years active2006–present

Sophie Solomon (born 6 June 1978) is a British violinist, songwriter and composer who fuses many different musical influences into her music. She was Artistic Director of the Jewish Music Institute, SOAS (University of London) from 2012-2015 and is now VP Marketing at high growth music technology start up, ROLI.

Early life[edit]

Solomon began playing the violin at the age of two. At four she met Yehudi Menuhin and was taken to see the great cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. For the first five years she played totally by ear, learning to read music at the age of seven.

Even though the National Children's Orchestra and Pro Corda heralded her as one of the most promising violinists of her generation, Solomon "was never completely satisfied by the classical world alone, I felt constrained by the fact that the music was written down and the strict parameters of the repertoire. I felt I had to step outside of that and find my own voice."

She was one of Bell's Belles who campaigned for Martin Bell during his successful attempt to be elected MP for Tatton in the 1997 general election.[1]

She studied at Cheltenham Ladies' College, and later at University College, Oxford (University of Oxford) graduating in 1999 with a First Class degree in Modern History and Russian. She also holds an MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics.[2]


During her time at Oxford, Solomon spent a year living in Russia, where she had a residency DJing Ragga jungle music at Kitai Gorod's Propaganda nightclub.[3] Solomon developed a passion for the traditional musics of Eastern Europe especially klezmer and gypsy styles and travelled widely in the region, absorbing new sounds and influences along the way. This led to her becoming a founder member of Oi Va Voi who were described as "one of the most exciting bands in Britain today" by The Daily Telegraph. It was with this band that she rediscovered her love for the violin.

Famed for their live appearances and Solomon's on-stage pyrotechnics, the band's debut album Laughter Through Tears received rave reviews, was voted in the top ten albums of 2004 by The New York Times, won them two nominations in BBC Radio 3's annual awards for world music and an Edison Album of the Year Award 2003.

Solomon's collaboration with Josh "Socalled" DolginSolomon & Socalled's HipHopKhasene – with special guests David Krakauer, Michael Alpert and Frank London, a traditional klezmer wedding hip-hop style received the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik Album of the Year award 2004.

She became increasingly in-demand, lending her violin playing to the likes of Rufus Wainwright, KT Tunstall, Paul Weller, Killing joke and Theodore Bikel. Solomon teaches klezmer music all over the world, most recently at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), the Royal Academy of Music and Weimar Conservatoire.[4] She is on the artistic advisory committee of the Genius of the Violin festival, the only such event in the world devoted entirely to the instrument. In February 2006 she appeared alongside Roby Lakatos, Nikolaj Znaider and Mark O'Connor in the Genius of the Violin concert at the Barbican Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra, performing special orchestrations of her own compositions. Martha Wainwright made an appearance as Sophie's special guest at this concert singing Lazarus.[4]

In May 2006 Solomon released her debut solo album, Poison Sweet Madeira, on Decca Records – an eclectic mix of klezmer, folk and pop and featuring the vocal talents of Richard Hawley, Ralph Fiennes and KT Tunstall. Her regular touring band comprises Ian Watson (accordion), Daniel Glendining (guitar/vocals), Grant Windsor (piano), Ali Friend (bass) and Stevie Pilgrim (drums).[4]

She has appeared and worked with musicians as diverse as The Klezmatics, Gary Lucas, Bacon & Quarmby, Luke Toms, The Real Tuesday Weld, Nayekhovichi, Alan Bern & Brave Old World, Maurice El Medioni, the London Symphony Orchestra, th'Legendary Shackshakers, the Israeli Sinfonietta, Hazmat Modine, Avishai Cohen, Yasmin Levy, Ludovico Einaudi, Marius de Vries, Kipper, Temposhark, Jon Thorne, Smadj, Ben Parker (formerly of Ben & Jason) and Besh o droM.

In 2006, Solomon was Musical Arranger on Lindsay Posner's critically acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof starring Henry Goodman, which transferred to the Savoy Theatre on London's West End in May 2007.[5][6]

In early 2007 Solomon premiered Wiesenberg's Suite Concertante for Klezmer and Classical Violins with Dora Schwarzberg & the Yehudi Menuhin School Orchestra. In 2008 she was a featured musician for the premiere at London's South Bank Centre of Marius de Vries's composition Q4 based on T S Eliot's Four Quartets, commissioned by the Rafael Bonachela Dance Company.

She contributes regularly to The Strad magazine.

She is currently working on her second solo disc for Sony/ATV, produced by Marius de Vries, and composing music for various film projects.[4] She composed the score for Vlast (Power), a film about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which has been screened at international film festivals, including Zagrebdox where it won a Special Recognition Award, and as part of Al Jazeera's Witness strand. In 2009, Solomon was composer, arranger and musical director for Our Class, a new play by Tadeusz Slobodzianek directed by Bijan Sheibani at the Royal National Theatre in London.[7] In 2010, she was Composer for 'Off the Endz' by Bola Agbaje at the Royal Court Theatre in London[8] and appeared as featured folk fiddler in London Assurance at the Royal National Theatre directed by Nicholas Hytner.

In November 2011 she was appointed as Artistic Director of the Jewish Music Institute, SOAS, effective from January 2012.[9] As part of her work at Jewish Music Institute, Solomon commissioned composer Jocelyn Pook, together with dramaturg Emma Bernard and video artist Dragan Aleksic, to create Drawing Life a new multimedia work inspired by the poems and drawings of the child-inmates of Terezin concentration camp. The work, funded by the Arts Council and winner of the PRS David Bedford Award for Music Education, features singers Melanie Pappenheim and Lorin Sklamberg of The Klezmatics and received a preview performance in 2014 at Kings Place in London.[10]

Solomon is also Founder and Governor of Hackney New School, a new secondary free school focused on music, which opened in Hackney in September 2013.[11]

In December 2014, Solomon was named in the Financial Times as one of the 50 most powerful people working part-time in the UK.[12]




  • Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik Album of the Year 2004 – Solomon & Socalled's HipHopkhasene (Piranha)[4]
  • Edison World Music Album of the Year 2004 – Oi Va Voi Laughter Through Tears (Outcaste)[4]
  • Timewise Power Part Time 2014 as Sophie Jankovic [12]

Poison Sweet Madeira track list[edit]

  1. "Holy Devil"
  2. "Burnt by the Sun" (with Richard Hawley)
  3. "Poison Sweet Madeira"
  4. "Lazarus" (with KT Tunstall)
  5. "A Light That Never Dies" (with Ralph Fiennes)
  6. "Hazy"
  7. "I Can Only Ask Why"
  8. "Meditation on Dvořák's Slavonic Fantasy"
  9. "Pin Pricks And Gravy Stains"


  1. ^ Sweeney, John (1998). Purple Homicide, Fear and Loathing on Knutsford Heath. Bloomsbury. ISBN 0-7475-3970-7.
  2. ^ LSE artistic talent
  3. ^ BBC – Radio 3 World on Your Street – Musicians' Stories: Sophie Solomon (1)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sophie Taylor
  5. ^ Welcome to Sheffield Theatres | Checking Plugin
  6. ^ Journal Communications, Inc
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2009.
  8. ^ "Off the Endz". Archived from the original on 2012-09-12.
  9. ^ Jewish Music Institute (22 November 2011). Press release.
  10. ^ [1] Archived 20 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "Andreas Wesemann: Smile, class, it's only an 11-hour day - The Sunday Times".
  12. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 December 2014. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  13. ^ a b Temposhark-Home
  14. ^ a b c d e allmusic ((( Sophie Taylor > Credits )))
  15. ^ "JW3 - The New Postcode For Jewish Life".

External links[edit]