Article by Wendy Rush.
Niki Vasilakis is regarded as one of the most exciting violinists to have emerged from Australia in recent years. In the lead up to her appearance at a LifeWell conference she spoke to RISE about music, faith and restoration.
Niki grew up in a very safe, loving Christian environment, with a strong and real faith and relationship with God from a very young age. In her teenage years and young adult life she experienced many things that challenged her faith and admits there were a lot of different influences on her. “Without going into detail, there were times during those years where I experienced great restoration in my relationship with God. For me this restoration came from the awakening of God’s grace in my own life. As time goes by I find I am constantly being restored by God, turning from my selfish, sinful nature, my brokenness. As I walk through this life, God restores me day by day.”
Niki stresses that her faith influences her entire life, including her career. “I can’t compartmentalise my career with my spiritual life. Playing music is such a big part of how I express myself that, career or not, it is influenced by my faith. As far as the personal decisions I have made regarding my career, there have been many, many forks in the road where the ‘right’ path to take in my career has not been the ‘right’ path that I have felt God has been leading me to take and I have had to make some hard decisions and say no to a lot of things. I have reflected a lot on the fact that I feel ‘called by God’ to play music for him and it has been confusing at times as to what that is supposed to look like – as what I do in the Classical music field sometimes can seem so far removed from anything spiritual. I have come to realise that everything is spiritual and God has me in my industry for a reason.
“I am really blessed to play music for a career, I love what I get to do every day, but the reason I feel so blessed is because I know how powerful music can be in restoring people’s hearts, souls, lives. How music can bring people into an awareness of God’s presence like nothing else. I know in my own life music has a way of speaking to the soul that sometimes words cannot and it amazes me how God speaks through that. I am lucky to be able to participate in such a thing and see people’s lives change by lines on a page, steel strings and horse hair. God works through mysterious ways!”
Many of us find that following God’s calling on our lives is not always easy – even those like Niki who experience great success in their field. “There is quite a lot of hostility towards religion amongst many of the artistic people who I have come to know. I often feel quite alone at times, with touring and many, many nights away from my loved ones and support. But I know that it is a privilege to meet so many amazing, interesting, spiritual people who may never get to know a real Christ follower. I hope that I may have some effect, as minuscule or large as it may be, at showing them what Jesus means to me.”
Apart from Niki’s faith, her family is the most important thing to her. She recognises that without their support she could not do what she does, or be who she is. “I really try to enjoy life, enjoy the great moments that happen. It’s way too easy for me to over-think things, get overwhelmed and be anxious about everything so I make a real effort to enjoy life – as simple as it sounds. I like to do something each day that brings pleasure, drinking tea out of a beautiful cup, walking the dog, watching a comedy.”
When asked what she would most like to achieve through her music, Niki says “The list is endless, ask anyone who knows me – but that list can be a little dangerous as it can so easily become about what I want to achieve in music rather then what God wants me to do. I have to constantly give this one over to God as I am naturally a very competitive person and I want to achieve great things. But the more I focus on achievements the further I feel away from God and the more it feels like I am swimming upstream.
“All I hope for now is to be able to continue to make music for many years to come, see more children have the opportunity to make and experience music and feel led by God each day in it.”
Read more about Niki and her music at nikivasilakis.com.
This article was first published in the August 2009 glossy edition of RISE magazine. See back issues here.