Who or what inspired you to take up the cello, and pursue a career in music?
When I was growing up, there was always music playing in the house, and my parents started me on the recorder at 4, the piano at 5, and then the cello at 6. I was very lucky to start with a fantastic cello teacher (Marina Logie) who is a family friend and lives very close by. She really instilled a love and curiosity for music in me, and also set me up very well technically. When I began with my current teacher, Leonid Gorokhov, at 11, this feeling was encouraged even more, and I think that I have them both to thank for my career in music!
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Apart from my two teachers, the pianist Alison Rhind (who coached me for several years) was incredibly important in my musical development. I am lucky to have worked with some amazing musicians who have very much influenced my playing and my development as a person, including Petr Limonov, Tom Poster, Huw Watkins, and Krzysztof Chorzelski.
Winning the BBC Young Musician Competition definitely shaped the trajectory of my career, and left me with a really special relationship with the BBC.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I am really proud of the CD ‘1948’ I recorded with Petr Limonov, as we took every effort to approach the project with great care and love for the music. I also am proud that I had the courage to wait until I felt I was ready to record my first CD, which isn’t always easy with the pressures of the music industry!
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
So far I am really enjoying exploring lots of different venues, but I think that the Wigmore Hall could come to have a special place in my heart. The acoustic is stunning, and its history of having hosted such incredible performers makes it very exciting to perform there!
Who are your favourite musicians?
That’s a very hard question, as I find inspiration in so many people’s playing (and there are so many insanely talented people around at the moment!). I’m a huge fan of the ‘old-style’ musicians including Heifetz, Szeryng, Shafran, Piatigorsky, Fritz Wunderlich and many more.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I think that the final of the BBC Young Musician will always be up there with the most memorable performances for me, as it was the first time I had played with such a good orchestra and conductor, in such an amazing hall.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
For me, it is to find, and stay true to, my own voice. Success is to never stop learning; complacency would be failure for me. I also think that being able to collaborate with people who inspire me is a form of success!
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
In 10 years I would like to have 10 years of exciting new experiences behind me, with lots of travel and playing in many different situations with different people. At that point I might consider getting a teaching position somewhere, but It’s too far ahead to know how my desires will change in the process!
What is your most treasured possession?
Definitely my cello. I am so so lucky to have been given a beautiful Ruggeri cello by some private benefactors. It makes (almost) every practice session a joy
Winner of the 2012 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition, Laura van der Heijden has been making a name for herself as a very special emerging talent, captivating audiences and critics alike with her imaginative interpretations and probing musicianship.
Laura van der Heijden’s critically acclaimed debut album ‘1948’ (Champs Hill Records, 2018), with pianist Petr Limonov, focuses on music for cello and piano from the Soviet era, and has received BBC Music Magazine’s Newcomer of the Year award.
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I hope that, in ten years time, Laura will have recorded the Elgar concerto! Her interpretation is astonishing (full of heart and soul); and yet (like Julian Lloyd Webber) she somehow never wavers from the composer’s directions. A great talent; but modest, as well as full of both common-sense (in the way she is managing her career) and delight (at the music she experiences – both playing and watching/listening) – properties that will make her as great a teacher (when she feels she is ready) as she is a performer.