A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, violinist Manoela Wunder has established herself in Los Angeles as an exceptionally versatile and eclectic artist. Classically trained, she has a strong passion for improvisation in jazz, blues, and rock genres and is an active composer and arranger for string ensembles and jazz bands. Manoela holds a Bachelor of Music from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College (NY) in Violin Performance and a Master of Music degree with distinction under scholarship from DePaul University in Chicago. In this interview, we discuss Manoela Wunder’s influences, her history as a musician, upcoming album, and more.
Hey! Introduce yourself. Where are you from?
Hi everyone! My name is Manoela Wunder, and I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was classically trained on violin, and also had lessons on piano and voice. Throughout the years, I taught myself to play a number of other instruments. I moved to New York to pursue a bachelor’s degree in violin performance. I moved to Chicago to pursue my master’s degree, also in violin performance, and shortly after completion, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a freelance musician.
When did you start making music?
I have been writing songs since high school, but only in early 2022 did I begin to seriously write and record my own music.
Who inspired you to start making music?
I was inspired to write songs when I started teaching myself how to play guitar, at around age 13. However, my main inspiration for my album was a Canadian violinist named Owen Pallett. I love how they combine their classical background to create rich string arrangements and orchestral textures.
How would you describe your music style?
Imagine Esperanza Spalding meets Marisa Monte meets the great Mr. Pallett I mentioned earlier. I would describe my style as alternative pop with classical, jazz, Latin, and world music influences! I play most of the instruments in the songs, and strings are always a prominent part of my sound.
Who are you listening to now?
Lately, I’ve been loving listening to a lot of the artists I’ve been meeting at open mics and collaborating with! On the mainstream side, I’ve been listening to Gretchen Parlato, Radiohead, Muse, and Steve Reich.
What’s your best project or single so far?
I am most proud of my album “Past/Healing”, since I felt completely free to create and develop my sound. I’m extremely fulfilled by the diversity of genres I was able to explore, and I’m very excited to discover what lies in store for my next album!
Any upcoming releases from you to look out for?
My upcoming debut album “Past/Healing” will be live on all streaming platforms on November 18! I will also be releasing an instrumental version of the album immediately following.
Have any shoutouts?
I would love to give a shoutout to my producer Danny Pravder and his studio at Homegrown Recording. He’s incredibly talented, and collaborating with him on this album has been a dream. In addition, the collective of artists (Homegrown Collective) that I met at the studio and regularly perform with is the supporting and loving community that I have always sought out as an artist!
Ms. Wunder has performed with a wide range of orchestras and chamber groups in New York, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles as well as Europe. Her music has been heard in the most prominent halls across the country, including Alice Tully Hall (NY), Symphony Center Chicago, Hollywood Bowl, The Forum, Greek Theatre, and Walt Disney Concert Hall (LA). She is a multiple prizewinner of competitions in the United States, Europe and South America and has been a guest at many prominent festivals throughout her career. In Brazil, she has been coaxed back to her hometown to perform as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro, in the most prestigious halls of the city and on national television. Want to learn more about Manoela Wunder? Visit her official website manoelawunder.com or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.