Salomé Gasselin Modernizes the Viola da Gamba

Salomé Gasselin Modernizes the Viola da Gamba

The 30-year-old musician Salomé Gasselin was recognized at the Victoires de la Musique Classique, a testament to her mastery of the viola da gamba, an instrument she has played since childhood.

Salomé was captivated by the resonant and slightly piercing sound of the viola da gamba when she was just 10 years old. Now, she is a part of a young generation that is bringing new life to this instrument.

Salomé sees the ceremony held on February 29 as an opportunity to showcase the viola and its baroque repertoire. She is enthusiastic about the increasing visibility of the viola da gamba, which has been nominated at the Victoires de la Musique Classique for several consecutive years. Two years ago, she established the viola da gamba class at the Pierre Barbizet conservatory in Marseille.

Her debut album, released by Mirare in the previous year, was well received, particularly by individuals who don’t frequently attend concerts. Since the album’s release, Salomé has been performing at classical music festivals. She gave five concerts in three days at the Folle journee de Nantes in early February.

René Martin, the artistic director of the festival and producer of Salomé’s album, praises her talent and sees her as one of the most significant musicians of the young generation. He notes the increasing presence of soloists on stage, thanks to young musicians like Salomé who are highlighting the viola da gamba.

Salomé points out that the viola da gamba is being embraced by new and younger faces, particularly women. While many associate the instrument with its sombre, romantic aesthetic from the film Tous les matins du monde, Salomé sees it as an instrument capable of much more diverse expression.

“A modern young woman, of her time”

Offstage, Salomé carries her viola da gamba, made in 1653, in a white case filled with fabric. She feels a deep connection to the instrument and all the people who have played it before her. The viola’s gut strings tighten and relax with the temperature, leading Salomé to feel that the instrument is alive.

Salomé grew up near Angers, the daughter of a flautist mother and a cameraman father. After quitting violin lessons at 10 years old, she fell in love with the sound of the viola da gamba. At 22, she left her position as a viol teacher in Nantes to continue her training in Salzburg, Austria, with the gambist Vittorio Ghielmi, whom she regards as the most significant influence on her musical career.

Onstage, Salomé enjoys performing works like Fantasies for Viols by Henry Purcell, the suites of William Lawes, and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. She finds Bach’s music energizing and divine, making her want to dance.

Her agent, Clément Ledoux, describes Salomé as a “modern young woman, of her time,” who combines modesty and warmth on stage to connect with her audience. Salomé, who also performs contemporary music, hopes to collaborate with other musicians in the future.