Seattle Symphony violinist, former Soviet refugee, traces path to U.S.

Posted on: April 27, 2017

“Twenty-five percent of the Seattle Symphony’s musicians, including French-born conductor Ludovic Morlot, hail from outside the United States,” reports Marcie Sillman on Monday (4/24) at Seattle radio station KUOW. “But only one Seattle Symphony musician came here as a refugee—violinist Mikhail Shmidt…. He began his music studies at the age of 5, in the former Soviet Union…. In the late 1980s … Shmidt was hired to play with the Moscow Radio String Quartet, a state-sponsored, salaried position. ‘I remember the first violinist said to me … “You are Jewish, and we don’t take Jews. You should be so grateful.” ’ Shmidt recalls. ‘That was the moment I decided for myself, “I have to get out of here.” ’ … He arrived in New York, where a distant cousin put him up. Shmidt took a series of freelance gigs there, before his successful 1991 audition for the Seattle Symphony.… Three years after he arrived in the U.S., Shmidt applied for citizenship. His refugee status at that time expedited the process…. Shmidt says, ‘It’s so incredible to have somebody from France and from China play music together. I think this is what makes our city so incredibly vibrant!’ ”

Posted April 27, 2017