This is a special column for a few reasons. It’s my last for one for 2019, and it’s been a wonderful 33 weeks of Kilkenny & Proud, meeting all the gorgeous people of Kilkenny. It’s also about a personal Christmas story, about a boy I met 15 years ago busking on the streets of Dublin, who today is a world famous star!
Let me introduce you to Vladimir Jablokov, who I featured in my Kilkenny People column a few weeks ago in the Day of the Life of Vladimir. Vladimir was born into a family of virtuoso classical musicians. He is from the fourth generation of musical maestros in Bratislava, Slovakia and began his formal classical-violin training at the age of six. All of Vladimir’s six siblings grew up playing music with both their parents.
When Vladimir was 19, he fell out of love with music and packed his fishing rod to come to Ireland to catch salmon. His brother begged him to bring his violin with him, Vladimir reluctantly did. After two weeks in Ireland, with very little English and no money left, Vladimir took to the streets of Dublin to play his incredible sound.
It was Christmas 2004, when I heard Vladimir playing on the Ha’penny Bridge and his music took my breath away. I asked him to play at my upcoming wedding and Vladimir did. Little did I know that day on the bridge what he would become.
Today Vladimir is a world famous violinist and up there with the greats, such as André Rieu and Nigel Kennedy. He has performed for BBC Proms, Carnegie Hall and played for some presidents. He has shared a stage with opera’s sweetheart Katherine Jenkins. As well as masterfully playing the violin, he conducts and manages a 85 piece production.
So after all this time, it was a wonderful Christmas gift to hear Vladimir and his family on Thursday at his recent performance for Yulfest Kilkenny for Vladimir’s Viennese Christmas Gala. Not surprising, Lyrath was packed to the rafters as Vladimir, his family and the 85 piece production of orchestra and choir took to the stage. A night I will never forget.
The icing on the Christmas cake was meeting Vladimir and his family afterwards with my own family. What a difference 15 years can make!