The key is trying to limit yourself to perform only the pieces that will be best for you and the audience. Otherwise, you’re doing everyone—yourself, the composer, and the audience, a huge disservice.

Richard Goode, concert pianist

I’m sure most performers would agree with Richard Goode’s statement, yet many, especially younger artists, are under tremendous pressure to “play to order” and to offer programmes which will satisfy promoters or venue managers.

It’s a physical and mental impossibility to play everything well (though there are a number of musicians out there who do seem to have mastered this, but they are rarities!), and the best performers understand their limitations. This is not to say that they offer limited repertoire, rather that the music they choose to play truly demonstrates their artistry. During their training, however, musicians are discouraged from specialising and instead tend towards a broad repertoire. Obviously, this has its advantages, as it introduces the student musician to a wider variety of music and will give them an appreciation of the breadth of their instrument’s repertoire.

The advantages of performing what you know you play best seem obvious, yet it’s common to attend a concert and feel that the performer is playing music with which they are not entirely comfortable. For young artists, teachers and mentors may encourage them to select certain works to impress potential agents or promoters, while other artists play music which they think their audiences want to hear. And in the desire to offer as wide a repertoire as possible, some performers run the risk of dilution or of not studying the music deeply enough because of the pressure to learn so much.

As they mature, certain performers may develop an affinity with specific composers or genre and may choose to focus on that. Andras Schiff is one such example with his predilection for J S Bach and the Viennese masters; Piotr Anderszewski and Richard Goode are other examples. All these pianists offer their audiences impeccable and insightful performances of the music they know they play well, because when musicians know what they play well, they play to their strengths while also revealing something of themselves to their audiences. This in itself gives audiences a more meaningful concert experience, a contrast to a performance which may be reliable but just doesn’t reveal enough of the person behind the instrument and the notes. And when we play what we know we play well, we play with confidence, flair and enjoyment – all facets which audiences appreciate.

Knowing one’s limitations requires a level of humility which can be quite hard won and take time to achieve, for both professional and amateur musicians. The training of young musicians today is such that they are taught to believe they can play anything – and many have the technical and artistic facility to play some of the most challenging works in the repertoire from a relatively young age – but appreciating one’s limitations and working within them is a mark of self-insight and musical maturity.

….we’re not machines, so part of being successful at this is understanding your own limits—your taste, your approach, and only performing things that work for you.

– Richard Goode


St Martin-in-the-Fields welcomes the Piccadilly Sinfonia for five concerts that celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Featuring British concert pianist, Warren Mailley-Smith, acclaimed by Classic FM as “stunning”, the concert series will take audiences through a journey of all five of Beethoven’s masterful piano concertos, alongside selections of Beethoven’s famous symphonic works and music of composers who influenced and were influenced by Beethoven.

The concert series will be conducted by British conductor, Tom Fetherstonhaugh, who has been described as “a spark to watch” by BBC Radio 3. Explore the fate of a man who composed for princes and kings, who ushered in a new era in classical music becoming its hero, and is remembered today as an emperor among men, one of the greatest composers of all time.

Born in 1770, a point in history wrought by tumult and great change, Beethoven composed music that began a new era. The first concert in the series, Fate, features Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto and his Fifth Symphony, a work known worldwide by only four simple notes. Prince and King explore the works composed for and associated with royalty. Showing the intensity of Beethoven’s earlier works, Hero begins with his First Piano Concerto, a work composed when Beethoven was only 25, paired with his Eroica Symphony. The series concludes in a complete celebration of Beethoven’s life with Emperor, commemorating Haydn’s influence on a young Beethoven and ending with Beethoven’s final piano concerto, the Emperor Concerto.

TICKETS PRICES £29/£25/£18/£13/£9

Save 25% and see all 5 concerts

Fate: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Third Piano Concerto
Tuesday, 28 January, 2020 7.30pm

​Prince: Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony and Fourth Piano Concerto
Tuesday, 17 March, 2020 7:30pm

: Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Second Piano Concerto
Tuesday, 28 April, 2020 7:30pm

: Beethoven’s Third Symphony and First Piano Concerto
Tuesday, 30 June, 2020 7.30pm

: Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony and Fifth Piano Concerto
Tuesday, 29 September, 2020 7:30pm

To buy tickets/further information please visit or learn more about our season, visit, or call St Martin-in-the-Fields’s Box Office Services at 020 7766 1100

Launched under the artistic direction of British concert pianist Warren Mailley-Smith, the Piccadilly Sinfonia is formed from some the UK’s leading young professional talent, with notable guest soloists so far having included violinists Zoey Beyers, Fenella Humphreys, Martyn Jackson, and Harriet Mackenzie. Their repertoire draws largely from a wide range of baroque and classical works for chamber orchestra including a number of virtuoso concerti.

Warren Mailley-Smith recently became the first British pianist to perform Chopin’s complete works for solo piano from memory in a series of 11 recitals at St John’s Smith Square. Hailed by the critics as an “epic achievement”, Mailley-Smith will repeat the series at several venues in 2020. He has given acclaimed solo recitals at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and has performed for the British Royal Family on numerous occasions. One of the busiest concert pianists of his generation, he regularly gives over 100 solo performances a year. His career has taken him all over the world, with solo performances in Australia, Europe and most recently solo tours in China and the USA. He has 30 piano concertos in his repertoire, having made his concerto debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Tom Fetherstonhaugh is a British conductor. Described as ‘a spark to watch’ by BBC Radio 3, his recent projects include a concert for peace in the Korean Demilitarised Zone, the development of a new piano concerto with players from the Ulster Orchestra and assisting Sir Mark Elder at the Royal Academy of Music. Tom made his debut in Asia in 2019, performing in the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) with the Lindenbaum Festival Orchestra. Entitled ‘One Harmony’, the festival promotes peace between the Koreas through music, and the performance included a collaboration with the National Children’s Chorus of America. As well as the Fantasia Orchestra, Lindenbaum Festival Orchestra, Oxford University Sinfonietta and the orchestra of the Oxford Chamber Music Festival, Tom has conducted players from the Ulster Orchestra, the Southbank Sinfonia, Leicester Symphony Orchestra, Hereford Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, the Junior Royal Academy of Music Sinfonia, Senior Orchestra and Main Choir, the orchestra of the Pro Corda Senior Course, the choir of Merton College, Oxford, and, aged 13, the choristers of Westminster Abbey on their tour to Russia. Tom is also active as an organist and pianist; he was organ scholar at Merton College, Oxford, and is a prizewinning Associate of the Royal College of Organists. He has played for live BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, and in 2017 played for the first Anglican Evensong at St Peter’s Basilica, Rome. He has appeared as soloist in the UK, Europe, Hong Kong and Singapore, including the Oxford Chamber Music and Oxford Lieder Festivals. On the piano, Tom has recently performed the complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas with violinist Athena Hawksley-Walker in the Holywell Music Room; the duo played live on Radio3’s In Tune as part of the project.

source: press release

Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?

My music teachers at school. They were so enthusiastic about it that I thought they must be in on some very special secret….it turned out the music I’d hear in my head wasn’t that different to what they were doing….it has to get out some way or another. They helped me to get it out!

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

At an early age ( 8-9) it was seeing three films at the cinema within a two week period….”You Only Live Twice” , ” The Jungle Book” and ” Oliver”. All astonishing musically and visually, but music was so front and centre for these films that it made me feel like  I wanted to be a part of the process that had made me feel the way I did when I saw them in that dark theatre.

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

Challenges and frustrations are almost the same thing for me….the most fretful being the first day of composition when you have nothing but a blank page and a lot of people are waiting somewhere for me to send them something of which  they have very high expectations

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

The pleasure is getting it done and people being happy with it…the challenge is getting it done so people are happy with it

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

I’m fortunate that I’m able to work with the best in the world in terms of performers. Anything I  put in front of them, they will play brilliantly and make it sound and feel immediately better. I’m spoiled in that regard. It’s important to treat individual performers with care and  attention so that they feel free and secure enough to give it their all. Then the relationship, much like that which I have with directors, is one of part therapist, part musician.

Of which works are you most proud?

I generally don’t like much of what I do, in as much as I can’t hear it without thinking I wished I had done it differently, mostly better, but there’s not much I’d change about ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’; it’s a piece that feels about right to me, it makes me happy to watch it.

How would you characterise your compositional language?

Sympathetic to what ever I’m writing about or for.

How do you work?

I hear lots of music in my head whilst just being around and about so I sing ideas into the phone or sketch the odd sequence down, depending on where I am.  Then it’s to an instrument for working out an idea  which will either survive or be abandoned – and that’s on guitar or piano working ideas up in a DAW [digital audio workstation] so others get the idea too and there’s something tangible to play to people. If it’s a film,  I’ll watch it once and then walk around with the film in my head and let it all percolate.

Who are your favourite musicians/composers?

So many. Probably the most influential would be John Barry, Stevie Wonder, Debussy and Tchaikovsky. As I get older, there’s a bit more Mahler but mainly I love great melody

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Not having to do anything other than music and to be happy with what I’m doing and with whom I’m doing it

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

Don’t try to please others, write honestly and maybe think this:  if the person whom you admire most in the world musically was standing next to you, could you play them whatever it is you’re working on right now and not have to make an excuse for it?

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

If I’m alive in ten years time, I’ll be happy to be anywhere doing anything

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Having nothing to worry about

What is your most treasured possession?

I have things that I love but they’re just things and I’ve stopped thinking about things being precious. My family will always be the greatest and I have no desire or ability to own them

What do you enjoy doing most?

Being childish and also cooking

What is your present state of mind?

Tangled, Busy, Yearning, Hopeful, Cynical, Stupid

David Arnold composed the score for the recent tv adapation of Judith Kerr’s classic children’s story ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’. The soundtrack is now on CD and digital format from Sony Music Masterworks.

David Arnold is a multi-award-winning British film and television composer.  Best known for his work on blockbuster films such as Independence Day, Stargate and Chronicles of Narnia, he also took over the mantle from John Barry to compose the music for five James Bond films (including Casino Royale, for which he was nominated for a Grammy, a BAFTA and won ‘Best Song’ at the World Soundtrack Awards).  Other films scores include Godzilla, Shaft, Zoolander, Hot Fuzz and Stepford Wives.

David Arnold’s television work includes Sherlock (Emmy winner for best score with Michael Price) Little Britain, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Dracula and Good Omens.  Over his 20-year career, he has won Grammys, Ivor Novello, International Emmys and Royal Television Society Awards. He was recently twice nominated for an Emmy for the Amazon /BBC production “Good Omens”

In 2012 David Arnold was appointed to the prestigious role of Musical Director for the London Olympics & Paralympics Closing Ceremonies and was also involved in one of the highlights of the Jubilee Thames Flotilla, composing a new arrangement of the ‘James Bond theme’ as HM The Queen passed by the MI6 headquarters.

As well as being a world-renowned score composer, David Arnold is a highly esteemed artist, record producer, songwriter and conductor who has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Queen, The Who, Kate Bush, kd lang, Bjork, Chrissie Hynde, Iggy Pop, George Michael, Massive Attack, the Kaiser Chiefs, Shirley Manson, Shirley Bassey and Sir Paul McCartney.


Photo credit: Julie Edwards


Critic – one who engages often professionally in the analysis, evaluation, or appreciation of works of art or artistic performances

The debate about the value of music criticism and those who write it is not new. In the digital age, the music itself has not changed, but the technologies through which we discuss, transmit and share it have changed immeasurably.

The internet has had an extraordinary, largely democratising effect on music criticism and writing about music in general. Such writing is no longer confined only to the mainstream media (MSM) and specialist journals, and the rise of the blogger and independent reviewer/critic has opened up the world of opinion-making and debate like never before, creating a vast and lively forum for the exchange of views. In addition, the internet provides access to an enormous range of music and information, and for the critic – whether paid by a newspaper or journal, working independently, or an unpaid blogger – there is scope to do more research and write better because of the wealth of resources available online.

The internet has also challenged many traditional ideas about writing and journalism. Space is no longer an issue and longform writing has become popular in online reviews and blogs, whereas a music review in a newspaper may be limited to just 500 words or less. In addition, as publishers’ budgets are squeezed, niche subjects like classical music are often the first areas to be cut; today newspapers employ fewer or no in-house music critics, the work now being farmed out to freelancers, while only the “premier division” of concerts and artists merit attention in the mainstream media. Independent writers and bloggers, meanwhile, can plug the gaps in the coverage of music.

This has led to a fair degree of protectiveness amongst professional (i.e. paid) critics who feel that the blogosphere and the rise of the “citizen critic” or amateur pundit is partly responsible for the slow death of traditional print journalism. Some also feel that bloggers and independent reviewers have no place in the ranks of “qualified”/professional/specialist/”proper” journalists because they lack appropriate experience or specialist knowledge, and that the writing of these individuals has little value compared to a review or critique in a newspaper or journal. This kind of gatekeeping is interesting, though not surprising. Feeling threatened by the rise of the blogger – a dangerous interloper in the field who can challenge the established norms of professional music criticism and reviewing – professional journalists are on the defensive.

Yet a number of excellent blogs are written by individuals who have studied music and who have wide knowledge; they are “amateurs” only by dint of the fact that they don’t get paid to write. It should also be noted at this point that some highly respected music journalists are also bloggers – perhaps most notably Alex Ross (USA) – who offer invaluable viewpoints and opinions.

Professional journalists also pride themselves on their “total immersion” in their specialist field:

Every day as a professional critic I’m talking with artists, attending concerts, listening analytically to recordings, writing concert program notes, and getting on planes to hear what’s interesting beyond my native shores, and the sheer weight of context that brings to every review can’t be equalled by someone with a non-musical day job…… Furthermore, technical knowledge is a vital ingredient towards painting the picture for a reader who wasn’t there……when artists themselves have spent their lives training to the highest technical standards, they deserve critics who are similarly trained and who properly understand what they’re doing. I’m actually yet to meet an artist who wants to be reviewed by a non-professional

Criticism Reviewed, Charlotte Gardner


Professional music critics have always been regarded as specialised/expert journalists and for many years were (and in some cases still are) the gatekeepers of the artform because their opinions could affect the success, or otherwise, of an artist or recording. Thus, music critics have a significant role in assessing and defining “quality”. Critics are important in creating marketing momentum around a certain artist, concert or CD to attract the attention of potential audiences/buyers. One of the criticisms regularly levelled at independent reviewers and bloggers is that they are “cheerleaders” for certain artists, and that this unprofessional bias/favouritism means they lack objectivity in their criticism. In fact, there is plenty of cheerleading in professional journalism, and MSM critics regularly coalesce around certain artists who are “flavour of the month”, “one to watch” or “a rising star”. This is great news for the marketing people and PRs who can maximise the attention paid to their clients while also picking up flattering quotes about them from reviews to be shared in press releases and other promotional material. More than ever criticism, whether in print journalism or online, is seen as a powerful publicity tool. And the artists themselves are not immune to this; while many may have embraced new media and platforms such as Instagram to self-promote and recognise the importance of trusted independent writers and bloggers as “influencers”, many more still set much store by critical coverage and will include favourable quotes from respected or established MSM critics and reviews in their biographies and websites as positive endorsements of their activities.

Let’s face it: no self-respecting musician would include a quote from a blogger in their publicity

a music journalist

What do critics do?

Describing performances is at the heart of the critic’s craft, yet music is one of the most difficult artforms to write about, not only because it resists description in words but also because it is recreated at every performance. This is also the reason why concerts should be critiqued, for a review acts as a commentary on and a record of an event, placing a concert in some kind of context (a composer anniversary or premiere, for example). Reviews record and explain the reviewer’s opinion (simply writing “I liked it” is not sufficient!), but this should not be at the expense of ad hominem comments on the performers nor seek to tell the performers how to do their job. The critic’s job is to find a balance between objectivity and subjectivity (i.e. personal taste) in order to offer a well-balanced review. A critic should not evaluate a performance or a piece of music simply in terms of “good” or “bad,” but rather guide the reader to appreciate how the music can be understood and to perhaps encourage them to find out more about the music/composer/performers. Done well, such writing should be a pleasure to read with the intention of bringing the reader closer to the artform and perhaps encouraging further or deeper engagement with it.

Criticism and reviews also act as a guide for trends, artists to look out for, debuts and premieres, CDs to hear, identifying or spotlighting new talent, or rediscovering old talent. A critic’s job is to persuade people that what they are paying attention to is worth that attention. Critics can also offer commentary on wider issues within the industry beyond the concert stage – for example, equality and diversity, salaries and fees, musicians’ working conditions, abuse of power – or challenge long-held traditions (e.g. applauding between movements), perceived norms or stereotypes.

Writers on classical music are ambassadors for potential new audiences and listeners, and anyone who writes about classical music, from a tweet to a long-form article, is part of a much bigger conversation about the artform, and as such their views and input matter.

In conclusion, I would assert that yes, we do still need music critics, for all the reasons outlined above. There are good critics and bad ones, and whether they happen to be paid or unpaid, or writing in print, in managed review sites or on independent blogs doesn’t really matter. What matters is that their writing is intelligent, insightful and entertaining because quality writing, whatever its source, prevents mediocrity and dumbing down, and encourages variety, authenticity and objectivity.



Who or what inspired you to take up the violin, and pursue a career in music?

I had my first very intense musical experience at the age of six, singing Renaissance music in a small boys’ choir in my hometown, Ravenna. Since then, it was very clear to me that music would become my entertainment, my hobby and my profession. I didn’t have a standard training in violin, I don’t even have a violin diploma; in truth. I love music in its purest essence, that is, as a language and means of expression. I have never been attracted by the technical and virtuosic features of instruments, not even the violin. To me the violin is the “transfer” of my voice and I always try not to consider it the “end” of my making music, but rather a “medium”, an instrument.

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

More than a teacher or a violinist, fundamental for me was the experience gained within the musical groups with which I worked, first of all the Accademia Bizantina, which I joined as the last of the second violins in 1985, at the age of fifteen. An ideal of study seen as research and constant work on “musical craftsmanship” was strongly shared and participated by all the elements of the group and it was, and still is, the thing that fascinates me the most about playing together. Anyway, in my imaginary teenage bedroom (if it had existed), I think there could have been posters of Nikolaus Harnoncourt (whose writings and performances I was struck by as a teenager), of the violinist Enrico Onofri (a fellow student in the 80s in Ravenna and a colleague in thousands and thousands of adventures) and, of course and above all, of Ottavio Dantone, the musician with the most clarifying musical vision I have ever known, an authentic luminary.

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

The most interesting challenge was certainly the recording of Vivaldi’s viola d’amore concerts with Accademia Bizantina, because I’m very interested in proposing this instrument in a new light and within an aesthetic vision I strongly believe in.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

The recording of Vivaldi’s violin concertos “Per il Castello”, no doubt! If I think back to the period of preparation, to the days of recording and editing, beyond the final result of the record (which I obviously leave to the listener’s judgment), they were moments of great energy, of joyful musical construction that, together with Ottavio and Accademia Bizantina, led us to this record.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Musically I feel related to all Italian music from the seventeenth century onwards. Vivaldi is certainly one of the composers to whom I am most attached and a very important test case for a violinist. I have now composed many cadences in his style, and I think I can say I know him very well. But I don’t forget Corelli (a fellow countryman of mine, born in Fusignano (a small village 6 km from Accademia Bizantina) and Geminiani and Handel, who together have cultivated the compositional form of the Concerto Grosso, which is at the heart of string instrument music.

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

The choice of repertoire is made by combining the challenges I have set myself for the year (in these years there will be a lot of Vivaldi, of course!), the demands of the concert seasons and agencies, but also the suggestions from musicologists or musicians from Accademia Bizantina. In the future I believe there will be further possibilities to expand the repertoire beyond the normal horizons.

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

I am particularly attached to the Goldoni Theatre in Bagnacavallo, where with Accademia Bizantina we record and play many concerts. It is an Italian style theatre with a capacity of 400 seats, built in the mid 19th century, with the original wooden floor and, as was customary, hollow. In this way the theatre becomes a sounding board, as if it were another musical instrument. Playing there is a bit like talking to yourself.

Who are your favourite musicians?

I know many musicians who are excellent and who are my favourites, but, above all, I love musical environments apparently far from my world, because I feel strongly inspired by them but I am not conditioned by them. These days I listen with interest to the songs of the American folk singer Rhiannon Giddens and the Irish violinist Martin Hayes.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Definitely playing at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles, in February 2019. The arrangement of the armchairs and all the architecture is such as to make the atmosphere intimate and cosy even though you are in a large hall with 2,000 seats.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To me success is real if it gives me the time and opportunity to implement future projects.

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

I believe that the first thing is to study as much as possible from the original sources, from the manuscripts, from the first editions, but, despite this, not to remain tied to the written music, but to how it could dance in the air at the time of its first performance, and, above all, to the feelings and emotions that it could awaken. Here, in this atmosphere lies the material that we musicians can work on. I believe that the most important rule that those who make music with historically informed criteria should follow is to have their roots firmly anchored to historical and musical sources, and their mind and heart free to sail to unknown destinations.

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

I wish to be still here, making and building music with my musician brothers and sisters.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I don’t know what perfect happiness can be. However, a nice morning run, a day with my family and friends and an evening concert I think bear quite a resemblance to it.

What is your most treasured possession?

The chance to choose.

What is your present state of mind?

Passionate, positive, fragile.

Alessandro Tampiero performs Bach’s The Art of Fugue with Ottavio Dantone and Accademia Bizantina, at Milton Court at the Barbican, London, on 19 January. Further information and tickets

Born in Ravenna, Alessandro Tampieri began his musical studies in his home town and became a member of Accademia Bizantina at the age of fifteen. During his training he devoted himself with equal interest to the violin and the viola, working with such noted composers as Luciano Berio and Azio Corghi and acquiring significant experience as a violist in the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.

Alessandro Tampieri had been interested in the exciting subject of historically informed musical performance based on scholarly criteria since his first years of study, and soon began to appear with a number of early music ensembles, including such groups as Il Giadino Armonico and L’Arpeggiata and artists like Enrico Onofri, Philippe Jaroussky and Vittorio Ghielmi.

Since 2011 he has been first violin and concertmaster of Accademia Bizantina, collaborating in the musical life of the ensemble with its artistic director Ottavio Dantone.

His recent recording with Accademia Bizantina and Ottavio Dantone of Vivaldi’s concertos for viola d’amore and strings, also released on Naïve, received a very warm welcome from both the specialised critics and the public.

Who or what inspired you to take up singing and pursue a career in music?

I began singing in school and church choirs – while I’m not particularly religious, my first church choir director encouraged me to take private lessons in musicianship and voice from her (an organist) and her husband (a baritone). I was inspired by my sister (a cellist) to go to conservatory for my music degree and pursue the career, and parents were (and still are) 100% supportive of my artistic goals.

I was inspired to specialize in contemporary vocal music by two groups of people – (1) my college classmates in the composition department, who exposed me to new music and encouraged me to use my creativity in creating unique sounds, and (2) a whole lot of singers who are true entrepreneurs; something that blew things wide open for me was seeing singers use their voices in their own artistic ways and creating opportunities for themselves, as opposed to conforming to the traditional operatic career. My voice has never been traditional, so seeing artists who think creatively like I do was a game changer.

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

Again, composers are my greatest influence. Composers remind me to remain curious and to create sounds that are fresh and genuinely inspired. Collaborating with composers is one of the most fun things about my job, and performing/listening to new works has brought me nothing but exhilaration and rejuvenation.

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

One of my greatest challenges was regaining my confidence. I lost my confidence, and almost lost my voice, in college, and after college I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with my singing, let alone how to obtain joy from singing. I knew I loved contemporary music, but taking the step to curating my first show was hard. I had to create the smallest bud of confidence for myself, and I think I did that my just focusing on my love for the music I wanted to sing, and I had to abandon the need for validation from others. I achieved this, but it took a lot of self-reflection, some therapy, and a huge leap of faith.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Several, but one that comes to mind is a collaboration that was in the jazz / avant-garde scene. La Operación, a work for solo soprano, two saxophones, two double basses and two drumsets, was written this year by bassist Nick Dunston, and the work is an abstract interpretation of a historical phenomenon involving colorism in Puerto Rico, eugenics, medical malpractice, second-wave feminism, and American colonialism. The piece is a structured improvisation consisting of tone rows, construction sounds, and a massive pile of extended techniques. I loved singing and improvising in this work, and it opened up a new vault of sounds which I now use in my repertoire.

Within the “new classical scene”, a couple of performances that come to mind are the chamber music experiences I’ve been a part of, particularly with Wavefield Ensemble and Ekmeles Ensemble. The repertoire from each of these collaborations (including works by Kaija Saariaho, Bernhard Lang, Lewis Nielson, Victoria Cheah and Nathan Davis) was very challenging, but both groups were incredible to work with and we made some pretty incredible music. I grew immensely as an artist working with each group.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

One of my staple works is Georges Aperghis’ 14 Recitations for solo voice. I learned this work a couple of years ago, and the work is rarely performed in its entirety. I’ve performed the full work several times already, and each time I feel that I get better and better. The work fits me like a glove, and I just love singing it.

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

I have a bucket list of works that I want to learn and perform. But when I go through my season, I try to strike a balance between learning new works and rehashing old ones so that I don’t over extend myself.

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

Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn, NY. The music that comes out of this place is stellar. From the Resonant Bodies festival, to avant-garde improvisers, to interdisciplinary artists… This place is just filled with crazy amazing music-making.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Like, everyone. But here are a few: Claire Chase, Sarah Maria Sun, Barbara Hannigan, St. Vincent, and Janelle Monet.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I recently gave a TEDx Talk and Performance (called “Your Voice Is A Fingerprint”) about contemporary vocal music in Waltham, MA. That was pretty amazing.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Honestly, being happy with how music balances your life. It’s different for everyone, which is super important to be aware of, and finding that balance can lift a huge weight of your shoulders. Plus, it makes for better music-making because you’re making music for yourself above others.

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

See above. I’m a huge proponent of music being a personal journey and a self-chosen journey. Whether that choice is traditional, entrepreneurial, or even a hobby, choosing how music is a part of your life (and not dictated by society or mentors or whoever) is an important part of being an honest, creative and liberated artist.

What is your most treasured possession?

I have a keepsake box in which I collect notes and such from performances. I also keep negative notes that people have sent to me or taped on my apartment door when I practice. Everything, good and bad, intelligent and ridiculous, reminds me to lock into my confidence, remain curious, and to keep going.

Colombian-American soprano Stephanie Lamprea is an architect of new sounds and expressions as a performer, recitalist, curator and improviser, specializing in contemporary classical repertoire. Trained as an operatic coloratura, Stephanie uses her voice as a mechanism of avant-garde performance art, creating “maniacal shifts of vocal production and character… like an icepick through the skull” (composer Jason Eckardt). Her work has been described as “mercurial” by I Care If You Listen, and she “sings so expressively and slowly with ever louder and higher-pitched voice, that the inclined listener [has] shivers down their back and tension flows into the last row.” ( She received a 2019 Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation, and she was awarded 2nd prize in the international John Cage Awards, sponsored by the John Cage Orgel Stiftung in Halberstadt, Germany. Her curatorial work received a 2018 grant from the Puffin Foundation. Stephanie was a featured TEDx Speaker in TEDxWaltham: Going Places.

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