Meet the Artist – Adrian Bradbury, cellist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

Hearing the Scherzo from Bruckner 7th Symphony on radio. I was 16 or so, heading for veterinary college; it was very much an “I can’t live without doing this’ rather than a “I must do this” moment.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Seeing as musicians need a proper grounding and a healthy ambition, it has to be my teachers – Lilly Phillips and David Strange – for their grounding, and the conductor of my local youth orchestra – Mark Gooding – for encouraging ambition. More recently the pianist Oliver Davies has been a huge influence, revealing that musicianship, not just technique, is teachable as well as inherent.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Performing in front of colleagues – always has been and always will be!

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the work I programme myself – those projects are like children, you nurture them and feel responsibility for their outcome. And like children they can be very hard work and take off in unexpected directions – but are always worth it and so instil real pride. My recent discs of Piatti operatic fantasies are examples of that.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

I hope it’s the repertoire I love the most; but to be honest it’s also probably the repertoire I don’t take that seriously, because the pressure’s off and then it’s easier to ‘play’. I enjoy technical challenges but I hope cantabile is my stronger suit.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Usually by answering the phone and saying yes! But when I’m lucky enough to be programming myself then it’s still often pragmatic choices, based on the venue, the audience and any other concerts around that time. I try to mix novel with staple, and always work with the assumption that you can’t second guess an audience’s taste, so go with sincerely chosen works.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

The Barber Institute in Birmingham for its acoustic and Bargemusic in New York for its quirkiness (especially when a police boat speeds past)

What is your most memorable concert experience?

A London Sinfonietta concert in the Carnegie Hall where Oliver Knussen, conducting, turned to the audience after a world premiere and said “new works should never be heard just once – you’re now going to hear that again” and we repeated the whole piece. It was electrifying – he had us and the audience in the palm of his hand.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Easy – when the composer is happy.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Learn to teach yourself. Assimiliate don’t imitate. And always beware not seeing the wood for the trees.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Anywhere that’s covid-free, pollution-free and culture-rich

What is your present state of mind?

Simultaneously elated (so much family time) and terrified (no concerts)

Adrian Bradbury’s latest CD ‘Alfredo Piatti: The Operatic Fantasies, Volume Two’ is out on the Meridian label, available from Presto Classical

Adrian Bradbury is a British cellist, recognized especially for his contribution to contemporary music (Royal Philharmonic Society chamber award, Composers Ensemble), teaching (Cello Tutor, National Youth Orchestra of GB) and musician science (research published by the Royal Society)