20-year-old violinist on using instrument to refresh music industry

Eugene Turikumana grew up singing in a church choir, and that’s how he got acquainted with the violin. After every practice, he would stick around to try out different instruments, however, it was the violin he got attached to.

With a friend, they would train each other, and that’s how he groomed his unique talent that has turned him into one of the few violinists in the country. 


Though he started playing the instrument at an early age, it was only three years ago that he started playing it professionally.


The 20-year-old takes pride in having performed at various corporate events, music shows, school talent shows, among others.


A violin being a fairly rare type of instrument in the country, Turikumana says he had to put in extra effort to get really familiar with his new found passion.

“Besides practicing how to play the instrument, I also had to read so much about classical music and watch various musicals of this genre. This is how I developed my passion. Right from the beginning, I always loved listening to western music and it was this that pushed me to know more about it,” he says.

A performance with other artistes. 

He recalls a time where he got wind of an opportunity that he knew would open doors for his career, this was shortly after he started playing.

“It was an orchestra at Green Hills Academy, the organisers were calling people to come and learn different instruments and I decided to join. There were all sorts of classical instruments, we also had a chance to see advanced musicians play and even though I had certain skills in playing, I attended the ‘junior strings’ (group of learners),” he says.

His breakthrough 

Turikumana was only a few years into high school when he had to drop out due to financial constraints. He never lost hope even though his future at the time was starting to look obscure.

He started taking on odd jobs that later financed his hospitality course. With these few skills, he started securing catering jobs that helped him survive. It was in the course of this struggle that he encountered his love for the violin.

“The challenges were so many, I had to look for money for my survival yet find time for practice and groom my talent.  But I never gave up because I saw hope in my talent,” he reveals.

Turikumana found his passion as a child, and says a good violinist requires a good teacher. 

But it was at the time of the orchestra that everything turned around for him.

“Our teacher was a British lady called Joy. She saw me and loved the way I was talented, and after a few weeks, she invited me to join the senior orchestra or big orchestra which is called Injyana Orchestra. “Since then, we have never parted ways. She still teaches me and has also connected me to various teams such as Crescendo, a European team which I started working with, till today,” Turikumana shares proudly.

Response to his art

“In the beginning it was kind of funny and seemed like it would never get far, but my goal was not to stop anyhow. 

“I knew that majority of Rwandans were not familiar with this kind of music or instrument, but I didn’t mind about how people would see it, I just worked with my heart!  And now people are starting to embrace it slowly by slowly.”

The 20-year-old takes pride in having performed on various corporate events. 

His biggest motivation is that currently there is not much of this kind of music in the country, so he wants to make use of this opportunity and be the one to ‘uncover the brand’.

“I can see my future and as I develop my talent, I want to use this instrument to bring some big changes to our music in Rwanda. That’s why I am really working hard so that I can bring something new to the music scene,” Turikumana adds.

He hopes to keep looking up to some of the violinists with household names for inspiration and growth for his career. Some of these, he says, include Samvel Yervinyan, an Armenian violinist, Augustin Hadelich from Germany and Itzhak Perlman, an Israeli-American violinist.

The violinist says he ‘works with the heart’ when playing the violin. Courtesy photos

“These are lovely for me, it’s their quality of music that stands out yet each one has his own character and quality in playing, but I really like their touch.”

The young violinist says for one to be a good player, it requires them to have a good teacher, enough practice but most importantly, have enough patience and be hard working.


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