Ahead of their Womad performance, Silkroad Ensemble's Mario Gotoh explains why music is a service.

1 Tell us who you are and where you're from.

Kia Ora, I'm Mario Gotoh. I'm a violinist, violist, composer based in New York City. I was born in Japan, and have lived mostly on the east coast of the USA. I'm passionate about swimming, gastronomy, writing, learning new things like playing other instruments, exploring visual arts and new places.

2 Describe your sound in one sentence.


I find it fun to explore different sound worlds - being more flexible creatively to the specific needs of a musical project, and being open for experimentation can allow for more exploration and discovery in sound.

3 What do you think is the key Womad festival artists have in common?

My impression of Womad is that the artists here are celebrating culture - to share our stories of where we're from, looking beyond political borders, to share in our likenesses.

4 Which of your songs is your favourite to perform live and why?

Beloved: do not let me be discouraged written by Colin Jacobsen, (one of the founding members and a violinist in Silkroad) that is inspired by both a Turkish poetic setting of Layla and Majnun, and a 14th-century Italian laude, or sacred song, which bears a strong resemblance to certain Iranian modes and melodies. I love that these seemingly distant ideas of East and West come together in a familiar way in this beautiful, evocative piece.

5 What can the Womad audience expect from your performance at the festival?

I hope it's a pleasant surprise/experience!

6 Which other acts on the festival bill do you most want to see?


I want to see all the shows!

7 What does success as a musician mean to you?

As musicians, we're expressing ideas, emotions, passing along stories and traditions, as well as always striving to grow and improve at making it meaningful for other humans.

8 What would you tell a young person wanting to be a successful musician?

I like what Yo-Yo Ma, Silkroad's founder, has said: (to paraphrase him) it's important to remember that music is a service, an offering, it was created because it does something to create community. The other stuff - the transactions - are not a priority.

9 Who or what excites you most about music right now?


All the musicians and people who participate in music and art with this attitude of offering ...

10 You can only fit one album by another artist on your device - what is it?

I'd delete a bunch of apps to make more room for more than one album! Lately, I've been traversing a never-ending rabbit hole of various African music - Toumani Diabeté, Ali Farka Touré, Fela Kuti and many, many field recordings ...

•Womad takes place March 15-17 at New Plymouth's TSB Bowl of Brooklands, Pukekura Park. See here for more details.