I originally began my studies on the piano, but I was a very bad student and very lazy in my practice. One day I saw my piano teacher with a student on her main instrument (the violin) and I fell in love. Over the following months I constantly nagged to learn the violin and eventually my mother and the teacher gave in. I took to it very quickly, practiced relentlessly and progressed rapidly. I never really felt that the violin would be my career (my parents wanted me to be a vet), it was always an obsession. But when it came to higher education I could think of nothing I’d rather do than play my violin. After my formal education I was quickly asked to perform both recitals and as a soloist with orchestra and I have continued to do so and love every second of it.
Who or what were the most important influences on your playing?
Drama and imagery. My pianist Daniel Roberts and I always say the music must not interrupt the drama. Also I often (and without meaning to) associate the pieces I perform with literature. For example, I often associate The Lark Ascending with Thomas Hardy.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Performing a chamber recital in a windy concert hall, the music blew closed and the pianist’s page turner had to rescue me (this was also broadcast live). I have also created my own Orchestra (The WPO) which performed in February 2014 – this has been quite a challenge.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of a recital I gave at Southwark Cathedral with Daniel Roberts: it was the first time we performed the Franck Sonata together and there was electricity to the performance. I am also proud of my recording of The Lark Ascending.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
I particularly like the sound of St. Brides (Fleet Street) and would like to record there in the future. I also quite liked performing in the Foundling Museum. It’s quite a small venue, but seems extremely well suited to chamber concerts with a perfect balance. I was performing Mozart, and it felt like I had gone back in time.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
I change my mind like the weather on my favourite pieces. But currently it is Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3, Beethoven Violin Concerto and I really love the contemporary composer Nimrod Borenstein’s work. His latest piece (If you will it, it is no dream) is extremely good.
Who are your favourite musicians?
Any musician who can give me inspiration. This would include pianist Daniel Roberts, violinist Leland Chen. I love the Primrose Quartet and I’m a huge fan of Julia Fischer. Plus Heifetz.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
It was actually when I was a child. I had joined the county youth orchestra (I was accepted younger than the minimum age restriction because of my standard of playing, so I was the youngest and least experienced there). I didn’t really know too much about the pieces we were playing or the composers. In fact, I didn’t even know that the inside player turns the pages. We played this boring piece with very little melody, which I hated. On the day of the concert a solo violinist stood up and it turns out our ‘piece with very little melody’ was the accompaniment. The piece (and the playing) was so beautiful that I forgot to play and just stopped to listen. The piece was The Lark Ascending, and to this day I have a love of Vaughan Williams’ music.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Love and enjoy every aspect of music. Enjoy the physicality, enjoy the technique, and enjoy the emotions. Read about the composers, watch concerts. Play solo, chamber and orchestral and love the variety of ways we can make music. Teach others to play. Listen and appreciate other instruments and styles. But most importantly always question and always learn.
How do you make repertoire choices from season to season?
As far as repertoire for my chamber music goes, Daniel and I have developed a close friendship over time and are often suggesting pieces that would suit each others playing, the only problem is that we can’t play it all at once. With Concerto and solo repertoire, I often choose pieces that touch me in some way, that I feel a need to perform.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on Delius Sonata No. 3, which I’ll be performing in the Wales Millennium Centre and Anteros Arts Norwich with pianist Daniel Roberts. I’m also working on ‘Autumn’ from the Four Seasons and the Beethoven Violin Concerto but these are more long-range projects.
Which pieces do you think you perform best?
I think it would have to be ‘The Lark Ascending’, though I am pleased with my performances of the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3.
What is your most treasured possession?
My most treasured possession is obviously……my violin
Hannah Woolmer is a highly respected violinist with prolific experience as a recitalist. She has performed in many of the UK’s classical music venues including St. Brides, Southwark Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, Bristol Cathedral, the London School of Economics and the London Festival of Contemporary Music.
Hannah’s performances have been broadcast on radio and 2012 saw the release of her single ‘Lark Ascending’ which has been distributed on iTunes and with Amazon and reached #14 in the classical download charts. Hannah also enjoys performing regularly as a soloist and has performed ‘The Four Seasons’ with Baroque Orchestra in London, Southend and Chelmsford, ‘The Lark Ascending’ with the University of Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra in 2011 and Bruch Violin Concerto in 2012.
Hannah has performed with conductors Mark Galtry, Patrick Bailey and Jacques Cohen. She has attended masterclasses and workshops with Bernard Gregor-Smith, John Thwaite, Susanne Stanzeleit and Robin Ireland. Hannah has a great passion for the tradition of chamber music, and tries to bring aspects of her chamber experience into her solo performance, often resulting in a great rapport with the conductor and an intimacy with the audience very rarely seen in large scale works.
Hannah’s collaboration throughout 2012 with Ukrainian Pianist Larysa Khmurych was met with critical acclaim. They toured their recital programme to large scale concert venues, with Bristol and Ely Cathedral standing out as particular highlights in their calendar this year. They quite quickly made a name for themselves with their fiery and heart-felt performance of Beethoven at the centre of their programme. Hannah’s most recent collaboration is with pianist Daniel Roberts. As well as continuing their busy recital schedule together which includes Wales’ Millennium Centre, Southwark Cathedral, the Anglo Japanese Society and The Foundling Museum to name a few. They are currently recording their debut album together.