As a witness to stories of war and survival, as a writer of prose and poetry, and as an interpreter and communicator of great music, Ruth Waterman’s wealth of accomplishment and experience makes her an inspiring and moving speaker. Her talks induce both laughter and reflection as she opens up the possibility of enhanced engagement with the world we find ourselves in.

The following presentations are suitable for many types of public events, for example, festivals, conferences, universities and colleges, arts and social science organisations.

Lectures and Talks

Stirring the Emotions: Words and Music
To reach the end of a concert or play with our emotions untouched is something we’ve all no doubt experienced. We expect great works of art to leave us feeling moved, enlivened, more whole. Musician and writer Ruth Waterman explores this alchemy through live examples of piano music and poetry.

Making Music, Building Bridges
Music builds bridges in many different ways. Violinist Ruth Waterman provides a glimpse into how exciting, and challenging, it can be to construct bridges to the great composers, and then to the listener. Equally exciting is how – through performing, coaching, conducting, writing and travelling – she has found herself creating connections within the wider world: between peoples and cultures, past and present, the intellect and the heart.

Deep Listening, Deep Connections
How do we listen? The ability to hear starts before we are born, but the art of listening can blossom throughout our life. Violinist, educator and writer Ruth Waterman demonstrates through various examples how much there is to hear, and, as a result, how our responses deepen and our delights multiply.

Grappling with Bach
How does a performer tackle the formidable job of interpreting the great composers? Violinist Ruth Waterman has been grappling with that question during her many years of international performing. Focusing on the violin music of Bach, she will show how a performer must be somewhat of a chameleon.

From Big Band to Bach, Leeds to La Paz: The Life of a Musician
At the age of five, Ruth Waterman picked up a violin for the first time, a step that would lead to a richness of experience she could not have imagined. Her performing career took her not only to Carnegie Hall, but also to a welter of cultures across the globe, from the gold palaces of St Petersburg to the poverty of La Paz and the bombed ruins of Mostar. In this illustrated talk, she describes not only the trials and tribulations, and the hilarious moments, in the life of a concert violinist, but also reveals the process of preparing for a performance, and the unexpected connections made through music.

When Swan Lake Comes to Sarajevo
Violinist and conductor Ruth Waterman introduces the world of her book, When Swan Lake Comes to Sarajevo, selected by the Observer as a Book-of-the-Year, through photographs, recordings, and readings. Look at the ruins and the rebuilding, see the people she meets, listen to the voices of the Bosnians as they themselves tell their stories of how it is to live through war, and hear the music.

Talks about Writing

These talks can be given to smaller groups of writers, and lovers of literature, to allow for informal discussion.

Narrative non-fiction
Ruth Waterman tackles the terror of the blank page by distilling the process of writing narrative non-fiction. Drawing on her book, When Swan Lake Comes to Sarajevo, an Observer Book-of-the-Year, she describes the decisions waiting to be made, and how to pull all the ingredients together.

Ruth Waterman explores how subject matter influences a poem’s tone, style and structure. By examining two of her own contrasting poems in detailed discussion with the group, she opens up multiple ways of writing and reading poetry.

Biography as a Public Speaker

Ruth Waterman’s inclusion in the book The Great Violinists acknowledges her as one of the outstanding solo violinists of our time. The profession of classical musician demands great physical skill and stamina, an analytical mind, decisiveness and courage in performance, and diplomatic and leadership skills, all infused with extreme emotional openness and expressivity; not to mention spiritual awareness, a sense of humour, a strong stomach, a prodigious memory and the capacity for endless work starting from childhood.

In addition to these, Ruth Waterman was one of the first to develop ways of speaking to audiences in order to draw them closer to the music, opening their ears and minds and hearts in the process. Her lively “Exploration-Concerts” were originally heard on New York radio, and have since been presented throughout the UK and US, France, Germany, Israel and Russia. As if this were not enough, Waterman has also accepted the challenge of bringing her art into the aftermath of war, conducting a multi-ethnic orchestra in post-war Bosnia, and describing the process in her acclaimed book When Swan Lake Comes to Sarajevo, a Book-of-the-Year of the Observer.

She has often been interviewed on radio both in the UK and abroad. For BBC Radio 4, she has in addition written and presented Something Understood (Listening), plus a half-hour documentary about her first visit to post-war Sarajevo. She has given talks at arts and literary festivals, conferences, and universities including Oxford University, The New School (New York), and in Munich, Johannesburg and Paris.

Ruth Waterman’s concerts have taken her throughout the UK and US, and in Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Israel, and Mexico among others. She has performed on BBC television at the Proms, at the Royal Festival Hall where she was once presented to the Queen, on New York’s Great Performers at Lincoln Center, and on Russian State Television in the galleries of the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the first British violinist to play there. She has broadcast often on the BBC and on radio and television worldwide, and has given master classes at universities and music conservatoires including Juilliard, Royal Academy of Music, St Petersburg Conservatory, Jerusalem Academy of Music, and New York University.