Silvija Scerbaviciute’s life has always been filled with music. The daughter of two professional orchestral musicians, she spent her childhood playing backstage at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theater in Vilnius.
âWhen I was little they always took me backstage so I could sit down during dress rehearsals. There were all these hallways leading to the stalls and that’s where I and another girl, the cellist’s daughter, we danced. We tried to imitate the dancers on stage, dancing to the music of Carmen.
Back home, the orchestral sounds of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 provided the soundtrack to Scerbaviciute’s bedtime routine. âMy parents told me that whenever they needed me to go to sleep, they put on Rachmaninoff. It was my lullaby.
âIt was really exciting growing up in a family of two musicians. My parents took their job very seriously and practiced all the time. They still do. I found the work they put into their music very inspiring, perfecting the melodies they had to play.
âI never thought of doing anything else, I never thought of quitting. It was like such a natural call to be an artist ‘
Scerbaviciute’s mother played the solo flute for the opera orchestra while her father played the solo horn. At six years old, Scerbaviciute enrolled in the National School of Arts and Music, where she chose to play the flute.
âAt that time, in the late 90s, there weren’t a lot of women playing brass yet, so I had this weird idea that women didn’t play the French horn. I just said I wanted to play the flute because I wanted to be like my mother. I loved her sound and I think she is such an emotional and expressive player.
Scerbaviciute loved to play the flute and knew at the age of 10 that she wanted to pursue a career in music. âI never thought of doing anything else, I never thought of quitting. It was like such a natural calling to be an artist. I loved being on stage and had big dreams. I thought to myself, I can really do this.
Almost two decades later, sitting in the Monkstown home in south Dublin where she currently resides, the professional flautist reflects on the support her parents have always given her. “We are a close-knit family and used to being close to each other, so it was extremely difficult when I decided to leave.”
Scerbaviciute was only 16 when she moved to the UK in 2011 to prepare for her baccalaureate at Chetham’s School of Music, a specialist music school in Manchester. âThere were a lot of tears in those first few months, but you get used to being away from your family, you have to do certain things to make your dreams come true. “
After obtaining her baccalaureate, Scerbaviciute was accepted into the Royal Academy of Music in London where she spent the next four years. âIt was such a change from anything I had known, London felt huge. It swallows you up at first, but then you swim and find your community, friends, and hobbies. It’s a great place to grow as a musician and as a human being.
Yet building a career as a professional musician is always a challenge, and Scerbaviciute admits to having had âmoments of depressionâ during her studies. âAny path requires a lot of rejection, but you get up because of this deep conviction that you want to do it. “
After completing his studies, Scerbaviciute remained in London to participate in a program with the London Philharmonic. She also taught younger students while practicing her own music for about four hours a day. In 2018, she auditioned to join the RTÃ Concert Orchestra and was offered an essay with the orchestra, performing with them several times over the next two years.
When the pandemic struck in March 2020, Scerbaviciute first felt relieved to be taking time off from work. âI had freelance work a lot all over the UK and abroad. It was a very busy lifestyle, I lived in a suitcase. It was exciting but also very busy.
âWhen Covid hit I thought I would have a little time to work on new things and train, but then I realized it was going on for a lot longer than I thought. In fact, I found the first lock to be quite correct in terms of motivation but the second lock was difficult as it was very dark and dreary. But I got a bike and started cycling and it kept me sane.
Teaching his students on Zoom was also a challenge. âWhen you’re in the room with a musician, you can hear exactly what’s going on; with Zoom you have to guess slightly. Sometimes Zoom just mutes the sound.
In February 2021, Scerbaviciute was offered the position of solo flute with the RTÃ Concert Orchestra. She flew to Dublin, arriving in a deserted city where people were still locked up, resisting the third Covid-19 lockdown. After being quarantined for a fortnight in an Airbnb in Drumcondra, Scerbaviciute moved into violinist Clodagh Vedres’ house in Monkstown where she rehearsed on Zoom with her new colleagues.
âSitting on the main flute seat can be under high pressure, especially when you’re new. But when you play with others, you feed on the energy and passion of the other ‘
âI was so excited about my new job, but couldn’t see my coworkers and didn’t have any friends, so without Clodagh I would have felt extremely lonely. But it was quite the opposite. We’ve had a lot of wine and cooking evenings and really the lockdown has slipped out for us.
Watching the UK reopen in early spring when Ireland remained stranded was very frustrating, she admits. âAll my friends in the UK were having fun and playing together again and we were still locked in, it was difficult. But you just have to go ahead and a few weeks later we went to the studio for the first time. “
Rehearsals and face-to-face performances fully resumed for the orchestra in August and Scerbaviciute now feels very comfortable in his new surroundings. âIt’s such a warm and friendly orchestra, I immediately had the impression of being welcomed into the family of these musicians.
âSitting in the main flute seat can be under high pressure, especially when you’re new. But when you play with others, you feed off each other’s energy and passion. When you don’t have that, playing music can be lonely. It’s this unity and sharing of emotions, it’s what we feel as musicians.
She is now looking forward to touring Ireland with the orchestra and also hopes to start playing more contemporary music. âI feel like I have fulfilled my dream of entering an orchestra. And I feel loved and valued by the people in this orchestra, it’s a nice feeling.