Rusanda Panfili on working with Hans Zimmer and taking the classical world by storm

A highly-skilled violinist from the age of just 10 years old, Rusanda Panfili is one of the most exciting talents in the world of classical music. To date, she has collaborated with the likes of Markus Schirmer, Aleksey Igudesman and Hans Zimmer, and is a soloist with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonic Orchestra of the State of Mexico and the Moldovan and Romanian Symphonic Orchestras, among others. However, beyond the classical world, she is preparing to release her first album of original compositions later this year, an experimental body of work that splices all manner of instruments and genres  Here, she talks to Headliner about her illustrious career to date, her creative process and the Merging Technologies kit that is so essential to her workflow…

When did you first develop your passion for music?

My parents told me I showed signs of musicality even as a baby, dancing perfectly in time to songs at eight months! Then I started singing and dancing, so it feels like music was always my passion, even before I was aware of it! My route started at the music school ‘George Enescu’ in Bucharest. Then I moved to Vienna to study, which is where I also finished my Masters. Important events such as winning competitions and scholarships internationally motivated me to grow more and more.

What were your early musical influences?

Being a classically trained violinist, I listened to so many old records by Oistrach, Heifetz, Milstein, so I think they shaped my interpretations. When I was a teenager, I was mainly listening to Latin and electronic music and loved how versatile those styles were in terms of rhythms and sound effects. That made me curious about other styles of music. Film composers, such as Vangelis, Ennio Morricone, John Williams and Hans Zimmer also became a big source of inspiration and fascination.

Tell us about your work with Hans Zimmer.

When I first started working with Hans, I was amazed by how much freedom he was giving us. It felt like he lets us be part of the music in a much deeper way than just playing the notes. He has a magical excitement for details and sounds, and he is a generous and kind person who has shown me so much appreciation. I am beyond honoured to be his violin soloist. I always learn something new and the journey both on and off tour working with him is truly rewarding.

The Merging Anubis has enhanced my productivity and the quality of my work. Rusanda Panfili

How did you discover Merging Technologies products?

I was sharing a studio with my fiancé who is a sound engineer and a composer, and the studio had a Hapi device. I was so impressed by the quality of it, and I knew at some point we were going to need separate studio spaces. I was starting to do more and more session work and composition jobs, and I thought I’d really like to have that same quality in my own space. So, I did some research and the new Anubis came out, and I thought it was perfect. Not just for my studio at home, but for taking on the road due to its size. I’m on the road about 240 days of the year, and I have a lot of session work that I need to be able to do on the go. Now, both my fiancé and I, have studios in the same building, so what belongs to me belongs to him and vice versa! Which is great, as we have an incredible combined arsenal of gear.

I never compromise on quality, so the moment I used the Hapi I was hooked. The low latency is absolutely vital. When working on things like film music, where you are working to a click track and have to be super tight, it’s extremely important to have that low latency. It makes you deliver higher quality results for your clients. I also noticed that my own violin sound was so much better; the preamps of the device are next level. It’s so vital when playing an instrument like the violin, which is so subtle and has so many colours.

How has the Anubis enhanced your music production?

It’s noticeable that the complete chain of audio conversion and signal path is built without compromise and optimised for excellent sound, which you can hear instantly. The latencies are very small, and the mic preamps are outstanding. All these aspects influence the quality of my recordings, so I can easily compete with the big professional studios in terms of sound, signal path and conversion quality. So, having the Anubis in my home studio has enhanced my productivity and the quality of my work. I never have to worry about technical aspects and can rely fully on the device, which always works perfectly. I mainly use it as an interface in my home studio, but also as an analogue mixer for features such as EQ, reverb and no-latency listening while recording.

When using the Anubis, which Mission are you running? 

I use Music Mission and what I immediately loved and still appreciate is the touch screen and user-friendly mixer. Features such as mic gain, reverb, headphone or speaker volume are easily accessible and easy to adjust.

Tell us about the new record you are currently working on? We understand it’s quite a departure from your classical roots.

I officially started releasing my own compositions about 18 months ago. I had to compose an anthem for a soccer team in Spain (CF Intercity) and it was the first job that I worked on with the Anubis, which is very important for me. It had to be epic and impressive, so I ended up composing a track with about 100 layers, and all of the instruments were played and recorded by me with the Anubis. I played many types of drums, keys, violins, I programmed a lot of instruments, I recorded voices, and also many different effects like claps and percussive layers. I was always thinking about releasing more original compositions, so I started my journey with that. It has developed into me working on an album, which is very futuristic and combines a lot of electronic elements.

I come from the classical world, but for me, just working in a studio at home and having access to a lot of possibilities in my own space is great. I have a lot of synths, I recently bought a bass, and I have lots of different types of violins that sound very different. I started experimenting a lot with those sounds and it turned into an album that will come out later this year. It's going to be called ANDARA 1980. There is a big story behind it. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s a little tribute to Vangelis and the Blade Runner soundtrack, which was a revelation for me as a musician when I first heard it. I was so hooked on those ‘80s synth sounds.

There are a lot of violins of course, as that is my main instrument, and I feel like my voice is connected to the violin. Everything I want to say comes first through violin. It’s a really exciting production and I can’t wait to release it. I have also released two singles called Organismic Experience No.1 and No.2

How much do you enjoy experimenting with genres?

It’s incredible. It’s like swimming in the Caribbean sea. Everything is so open and wonderful. I was classically trained, but I always felt that the classical world can’t be the only thing for me. I loved folk music early on and when I first started playing with synths my mind expanded. A limitless path opened.

Is there a growing classical movement happening in 2022?

Yes, thanks to film composers and being performed more and more by orchestras and classical soloists around the world, there is a more relaxed approach towards classical concerts. I see people who never went to a classical concert before suddenly being interested in classical music after they watched John Williams conduct a symphonic orchestra, or Hans Zimmer filling an arena with his Symphonic programme.

What have been some of your career highlights?

To name a few: being accepted at the Conservatory of Music in Vienna, winning the Karajan Scholarship, winning my first international competition in Italy, my orchestral debut, receiving my Masters diploma, performing in front of 20,000 people for the first time, sharing the stage with Brian May and releasing my first album!

What’s next for you?

I’m going back on tour with two of the Hans Zimmer tours where I am a solist. In Autumn I’ll be touring with The World Of Hans Zimmer in Europe and next year I am doing Hans Zimmer Live, which is the big tour with Hans Zimmer live onstage, that will be a three month tour through Europe.