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

As a young child there was a lot of music around the house and I listened to Jacqueline du Pré play Bach’s Cello Suites every night before bed. I am not sure how attentive a listener I was – I believe the aim was for me to drop off to sleep! – but I refused to accept any other interpretation of that music! As for my decision to make cello my career, I became accustomed to the life of a touring artist on a series of cruises starting when I was five years old, during which I had fantastic experiences performing amongst top professionals, signing autographs and even being interviewed by Richard Baker before rushing back to the swimming pool!

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

I grew up attending my father’s concerts with cellist Alexander Baillie and listening through the door to their rehearsals at home. Musicians were often guests at our house and I remember discussing the finer points of ‘Lord of the Rings’ with Dame Emma Kirkby, whose individual approach to singing has always seemed the most natural to me. Lately, I have been influenced more by ideas and principles of making music than by specific performers: I am not aiming to emulate any cellist in particular but to reach my own personal sound in ways I am discovering myself. There are cellists whom I greatly admire such as Mstislav Rostropovich and János Starker, but I have been more often inspired by musicians in other fields such as the conductors Claudio Abbado and Carlos Kleiber, the violinist Julia Fischer and pianists Claudio Arrau and Arthur Rubinstein.

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

The greatest challenges have been projects that I embarked upon with a view to expanding the repertoire of the cello. In 2014 I performed Jan Vriend’s ‘Anatomy of Passion’, a 30 minute work for cello and piano composed in 2004. It was a formidable challenge, not only because of great technical demands and complex rhythms to coordinate with the piano, but also because I decided to perform the piece from memory which I believe made my performance more convincing. More recently, I arranged and performed Bach’s iconic ‘Ciaccona’ from the Violin Partita No. 2 in venues including London’s Wigmore Hall and King’s College Chapel. This was an enormous statement, to take a piece which means so much to people and adapt it to another instrument which made it essential for me to transcend the substantial technical difficulties of performing this on the cello and create a performance which was musically worthwhile and not just an impressive show of technique.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I try to make every performance better than the last, but rather than pride, I experience enjoyment when I play. My performances of the two pieces mentioned above have been some of the most rewarding concert experiences of my life. I am also happy that the recording I made at nineteen years old of the Chopin Cello Sonata still seems relevant to me despite the six years of development I have had since then.

Which particular works do you think you play/conduct best?

I play a wide range of repertoire, from Bach through to brand new pieces and I try to approach every type of music with the same philosophy – to take a fresh look at the score and try to interpret what that particular composer means in their notation. I then put one hundred percent of myself into every moment of the music, no matter what the style. Having said that, I think music by Benjamin Britten, Prokofiev and Shostakovich suits me well and I find the technical challenges of music from the 20th and 21st centuries to be the most fascinating. In terms of conducting my repertoire is smaller, but I have most enjoyed conducting 19th and 20th century music. In particular, I conducted Strauss’ Metamorphosen with the Seraphin Chamber Orchestra in 2017 and since I felt a particular affinity with the piece I found it very natural to memorise and perform.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season as a performer and also as conductor?

My repertoire choices are often taken in collaboration with musicians I am working with and I am very lucky to perform regularly with my father, pianist James Lisney. We both enjoy crafting programmes with a unifying theme and have toured several of these ‘project’ concerts with titles such as the Beethoven Grand Tour (the five Cello Sonatas), Cello Song and Russian Connections. I enjoy playing contemporary music so I make a particular effort to fit some new music into most of my recital programmes. As for concerti and chamber music that is often a little more out of my control but I am eager to play all sorts of music!

You are also a composer and conductor. How do these disciplines impact on your performing career and vice versa?

My work as a composer impacts directly on my cello career as I often perform my own music. My conducting contributes less obviously to the rest of my career (though I have conducted my own music) but I believe that the experience of leading an orchestra through various types of music has improved my concerto playing and opened my eyes to particular considerations in composition. My experiences as a cellist are central to everything I do and it is almost impossible to separate it out. Of course, the technical knowledge is crucial to composing for string instruments but also the experience of performing gives me a certain empathy with musicians I am writing for; I take great care to ensure that the music I compose is rewarding both to perform and to hear.

As a composer, how would you describe your compositional language?

This is a question we composers are asked very regularly and I am still struggling for an answer! The aspects of my music which might constitute a style or language are by nature the ones that recur in many of my pieces and as such, they are the very elements it is difficult to identify in one’s own music. My orchestration is often detailed and delicate, but I am not adverse to thicker symphonic textures. I do not write in a strictly tonal idiom but I think it is clear to listeners that I have a background in western classical music, and tonal direction is central to my music. I am very motivically-led and this is often the focus of my compositional process. I begin with one or two ideas which I develop, combine and transform in the same way Beethoven, Wagner and so many others have done before.

How do you work, as a composer?

Since I have never had my own piano I have become accustomed to working in silence at a desk. I tend to start out on manuscript paper and when I begin writing I usually have a significant portion of the piece mostly if not fully composed in my head. At some point in the process I will ‘run out’ of music and at that point I look back at what I have written so far and examine the possibilities. Later on I type everything into Sibelius [music notation software] but I do not use the playback function except for checking mistakes – I am much more likely to hear a typo than see one!

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

I find it very rewarding to write specifically for certain players or ensembles. For example, in 2017 I composed ‘Thread of the Infinite’ for the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra in the knowledge that they would perform this piece unconducted, directed from the violin by Thomas Gould. In this case I made sure that the coordination between parts was clear enough not to require a visual cue from a conductor and inserted several soaring violin solos for the Leader. I have recently written a piece ‘Spiralen’ for Ensemble Recherche, who specialise in the highly complex music of composers such as Brian Ferneyhough and Helmut Lachenmann. My music is far removed from this idiom but I found it very rewarding to work out what new things these musicians were capable of and how I could absorb this into my own style.

What, for you, is the most challenging part of being a conductor? And the most fulfilling?

Many of the most challenging aspects of being a conductor are administrative! At this stage in my career I am running my own orchestra which involves a lot of non-musical tasks such as organising parts, venues and marketing. This means however that I have autonomy over the artistic direction the orchestra takes which I find very exciting. I love rehearsing with musicians and find it very interesting to think about how different musicians respond to words and visual cues. I often have to say something in two or three different ways to get all the players in a section to respond in one way. If I want a particular quiet sound, for example, some of the violinists might pick that up from my beat, others would benefit from some metaphorical suggestion and the final group might respond best to a specific technical instruction such as bow position and speed of vibrato.

How exactly do you see your role? Inspiring the players? Conveying the vision of the composer?

I see my role as a facilitator with a interpretative opinion… I wish to give the players both the framework and the freedom to perform, which involves bringing everyone together to a unified vision of the music. I hope that in a concert situation I can help inspire the players to find something magical and then very often as a conductor our work is done – less is more.

Is there one work which you would love to conduct?

There are many works I would love to conduct, particularly some works by George Benjamin such as ‘At First Light’. Mahler’s Ninth Symphony totally captivated me and has filled my head since I first heard it. I am very excited that this dream is shortly to be fulfilled in a concert at West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge on 3rd March 2019.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I feel entirely free when I am performing and my main motivation in pursuing a career in music is to get the opportunities to show people the music that I love and believe in.

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

What I have learnt so far is to approach every work with humility and love; look at every work from a composer’s perspective, put one hundred per cent of yourself into it and value that input. I have also learnt that your understanding of something you take the time to discover by yourself is so much deeper than something given to you fully-formed. The journey is essential.

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

10 years sounds an unimaginably long time and I cannot immediately see where my current trajectory will take me. I suppose that my ultimate goal is to be able to perform the music I want to perform to a willing audience(!) and I hope that I can combine the three strands of my career – cello, composition and conducting – to have a fulfilling musical life.


Joy Lisney is one of the most exciting young musicians to emerge in recent years. Her early promise as a cellist was highlighted by Carlton Television when they chose her, at the age of six, as a possible high achiever of the twenty first century.

She has since fulfilled expectations with a distinguished international career, launched by a debut series of two concerts at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 2012.

Joy has enjoyed collaborations with artists including Dame Emma Kirkby, Alexander Baillie, Howard Williams, Huw Watkins, the Allegri Quartet and the Wihan Quartet and also performs regularly in duo with her father James Lisney. Venues for duo recitals have included Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Queen’s Hall Edinburgh, St. George’s Bristol, the Leipzig Gewandhaus and St. John’s Smith Square. In 2014 she performed all five Beethoven cello sonatas in a single concert in a tour concluding with a sold-out performance at London’s Southbank Centre. Projects in 2017 have included a Schubert Quintet Tour with the Allegri Quartet, concerto performances by Prokofiev, Haydn and Turnage and the Cello Song recital tour.

As a passionate advocate of new music Joy has commissioned two new works from the Dutch composer Jan Vriend, the first of which she recorded on her debut CD in 2012. In 2014 she performed as a London Sinfonietta Emerging Artist at the BBC Proms in a concert broadcast on Radio 3 to celebrate the 80th birthday of Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies. In April 2017 Joy performed on the opening night of the Park Lane Group Recital Series at St. John’s Smith Square, giving a solo recital including two premieres, one of which was her own composition ScordaturA. Joy has also given European premieres of works by Judith Weir and Cecilia McDowall.

As a composer, Joy has won the Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sir Arthur Bliss Prizes and she was also Composer in Residence at Cambridge University Music Society for 2016-17. Joy is in the second year of her PhD in Composition at King’s College, Cambridge, supported by the AHRC, and is Honorary King’s College Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar. Her first string quartet was premiered by the Arditti Quartet and she has since had music performed at the King’s Lynn and Aldeburgh Festivals and the Park Lane Group Series.

Forthcoming performances this season include the Elgar Cello Concerto and the Brahms Double Concerto (with Emma Lisney), the premiere of her new work for chamber ensemble, and concerts at Temple Music Foundation, West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge, St George’s Bristol, the Purcell Room, and St John’s Smith Square.

Joy is also the founder and conductor of the Seraphin Chamber Orchestra, a string orchestra which combines the best players of Cambridge University with young professionals from the South of England.

joylisney.com

jo-quail-five-incantationsAdrian Ainsworth nominates Jo Quail: ‘Five Incantations’

In recent years, my listening has evolved and expanded from rock/folk/electronica more and more towards the labyrinth of listening options that is ‘classical music’… So perhaps it’s no wonder that one of my favourite artists is someone who is continually developing along those lines as a musician.

Jo Quail is a cellist and composer who produces work primarily (but not exclusively) for performance on her own electric cello, plus loop station. This electronic aspect allows her to write pieces that develop layer upon layer into something genuinely, and at times overwhelmingly, orchestral. Part of the exhilaration of seeing her live is to watch how the tracks build: the total absence of trickery, the obvious presence of melodic/harmonic invention, and rhythmic precision.

Because she emerged from, broadly speaking, the avant-garde ‘underground rock’ world, it’s still perhaps most common to encounter JQ supporting a heavy instrumental guitar band, or quietly wowing a festival crowd on the continent. But when she stages a concert of her own, she gives her ‘classical’ side equal weight – as with her recent composition for electric and acoustic cellos, percussion and choir, ‘This Path with Grace’. (To me, it’s a mystery why a label like NMC or ECM aren’t paying more attention – perhaps it’s a side-effect of JQ building her fanbase in all corners of the music-going public?)

However, her latest recording ‘Five Incantations’ is, in its own way, her most ambitious and fully-realised project yet. The ‘incantations’ are related movements that form a kind of suite, or single-player concerto, for cello and electronics. As we’re guided through the elements, the mood shifts between driving, stately anthems and near-ambient, gliding pauses for reflection. Overall, the work is designed for listening in one sitting – and JQ plays it live, entirely solo, in an unbroken, 40-minute sequence.

That said, ‘Gold’ is perhaps the section that can most readily stand alone. Before the album’s release, JQ issued an alternative mix of this particular track, and I’m very fond of it – I return to it often, especially if I don’t have time to play the whole CD. It encapsulates the attractions of her music beautifully. The unhurried patience of the tune as it nestles in your brain; the heartbeat rhythm (created by striking the cello) dovetailing with the harsher, bowed punctuation points that kick in after around five minutes; the way the loops allow various parts to ‘slot’ in and out until finally fitting together like a musical jigsaw.

If you like this, please investigate further on JQ’s Bandcamp page (https://joquail.bandcamp.com/album/five-incantations), where you can listen to – and buy – her music.

(To give an idea of the ‘live’ experience with something a little more pacy than ‘Gold’, here is a performance of ‘Laurus’ from the previous album ‘Caldera’ – the video allows you to see the quickfire use of loop pedals, all managed in a near-balletic style while playing an absolute blinder with the hands!)

Meet the Artist……Jo Quail

Adrian Ainsworth writes for a living, but mostly about things like finance, tax and benefits. For light relief, then, he covers his obsessions – overwhelmingly music, but with sprinklings of photography and art – on the ‘Specs’ blog, which you can find at

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Who or what inspired you to take up cello, and make it your career?

I never wanted to play the cello! But luckily for me, my career wasn’t dictated by a choice I made aged four and a half. I was very fortunate to be in a primary school in inner London that participated in a scheme run by the Centre for Young Musicians, whereby cello and violin lessons were offered to primary aged children, and when the initial letter came home in my bag outlining these lessons I said a resounding no. One term later a gap appeared in the cello group, and I went along with my friend in order to escape some other activity in the school day, and here I am now! I will never ever forget crossing the school playground to go to the library hut where the lessons took place for that first time, holding my friend’s hand, I know how the sun felt, what I was wearing, the smell of the library, and the sight of what became my first cello, a quarter size beauty with ILEA scratched on the back. Without doubt it was the brilliant, enlightened and what I now recognise as freeing approach of the teachers, especially my teacher Vicky Miller, that inspired me continuously and enabled me to sculpt my own career as a solo cellist and composer.

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

Spirituality in the widest sense, and of course music. Tchaikovsky Symphony 6. Rapidly followed by Whitesnake circa 1987 (a great year of rock) and the first time I heard the music of Arvo Pärt, and then listened to this great man say the words “Jesu Cristo” (in answer to an interviewer’s question), and recognising (I think) and respecting the profound and complex meaning this faith has for him. I have my own quite firm spiritual beliefs, (not related to any traditional religion I hasten to add) and at times I find these meditations or invocations to be profoundly influential in the way that I write, or more accurately what I can be a conduit for. On a more down to earth level, pretty much everything has been an important influence! The strength of the brilliant tuition with the CYM carried me back to my cello after a 7 year hiatus following the completion of my performance degree. I was knocked way off course, and left with absolutely no confidence musically and no desire to play my cello after graduation, just one of those things, but when I did return to the cello it was with the spirit of the freedom and joy of music that the CYM staff gave me. I now study with Gwyn Pritchard who is someone I cannot imagine life without. When I’m with Gwyn I feel I want to record every single thing he says, it’s all relevant, related, and delivered with this ability to inspire such belief and confidence. He gets to the centre of the soul of sound, music, whether we discuss cello playing or composition. He is my guru! And the unconditional love and support of my parents and my family gives me both direction and freedom. Having my daughter Eila in 2012 has had a profound influence on my music, largely because I learned how to practice and indeed write in 10 minute bursts! Much of my album ‘Caldera’ was written in these early, earthy months, and I love being a mum.

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

I have an unusual career, insofar as I play concerts all over the world, but mainly I play the music I have written, with occasional ‘guest spots’ of traditional or contemporary solo repertoire. I would feel easier if I could say to you “oh, the greatest challenge was the time I played the Dvorak with such and such famous orchestra in a huge concert hall…”, but that’s not the truth – and me playing the Dvorak is pretty unlikely though one never knows I suppose! My greatest challenge has been myself. I’ve had to do quite a bit of work to overcome my own imposed limitations, to shed myself of the feeling that I’m somehow ‘not good enough’ or without some kind of special power that other widely known soloists seem to embody with ease. Having said that, there is a large chunk of truth attached to that feeling. I’m not good enough to be a great soloist, I’m not a concerto girl, and I think part of the problem for me has been my own (mis)conception that there is only ‘one way’ to be a cellist. Luckily I know that’s not the case now, but it took a bit of time, and was quite a rollercoaster emotionally too. I’ve only recently acknowledged the fact that I am fiercely ambitious and really quite driven in my work, and that’s been a big eye opener for me.

On a lighter and more practical note, it’s sometimes a challenge to work with the technology that I use and keep both hands and feet doing what they are supposed to do (I play my electric cello standing up and use a loop station and an effects board) whilst rattling through some ghastly col legno loop that somehow has to stay in time. That kind of thing, that’s a challenge for me! And allowing the juxtaposition I suppose between highly focussed practical application, the physical aspect of playing my cello, coupled with a non-tangible, emotional yet somehow elemental aspect, allowing the two to co-exist and each being valid and essential. I’m not sure, the more I think about it the more confused I get which isn’t ideal in an interview! And if I was being frivolous I’d say in this line of performance there are times when finding the venue can be a bit of a challenge too – I’m thinking both of the M1 here, and navigating around Japan a few years ago with Tallulah Rendall…

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?  

I always feel a great pride in my recordings, because I know very well the feeling of the blank page, the wav with nothing in it, and the looming deadline, and for me the recording (and more-so the creation) process is a journey that is always unexpected, at times harsh; equally exhilarating and humbling. Each album or EP has somehow developed me as a composer and cellist. ‘Caldera’ has some tracks on that I never knew I could write. Or play for that matter, I’m thinking especially of ‘Adder Stone’ and ‘Amberay’. I’ve also just finished a big piece for Australian filmmaker Michael Fletcher, called ‘This Path With Grace’, and that piece has set a new benchmark for me. It’s built (as is often the way) from a very small fragment, it’s what I call the DNA of the piece, but it just seemed to unfold and arise and became something I didn’t recognise, that I felt in awe of. I don’t mean the compositional merits, I mean the energy that the piece evokes. I’ve even got a choir in there, which obviously makes the solo version a bit tricky, so I’ve got a couple of ways I can play this, solo, or with ensemble.

Which particular works do you think you play best? 

Probably whatever I am studying or writing at the time, because that’s where my musical focus is. From a traditional point of view, when I’m ‘on it’ I think I do some of the Bach Suites fairly acceptably. I have a very close and complex relationship with these suites, as do all cellists I imagine, but I distinctly feel strong personalities, and I feel infused with different energies when I consider each of them. Quite often when I am invited to perform on ‘acoustic cello’ it’s with the proviso of ‘play anything you like’ so I would usually play some of mine, ‘The Hidden Forest’ and ‘A Leaf’ and then ‘A Key’, for example, book-ending a Bach suite. Post-CYM I had a very unsettling teaching experience with the D minor suite, and it’s only lately I’ve been able to return to that one without feeling sick, and I’m so glad I got over that! I never quite know how I’m going to play them, sometimes I tip the hat to authenticity and sometimes I prefer to languish a bit with them, it depends how I’m feeling really. And I do like a more agricultural approach to the gigues most of the time if you know what I mean, just ballsy. As long as I believe what I’m doing, or feel certain of my intention it feels OK somehow!

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

I’ll have to adapt this question a bit if you don’t mind. I chose my concert programme for each performance with several factors in mind. The first is length of programme, some concerts are 40 mins, some are 80, some have an interval, some don’t etc, and the set needs to be paced well for my sake and the audience. Many of my pieces are quite ‘long’ in terms of gig audiences, especially as I write and perform instrumental music. For an audience used to classical concerts my ‘long’ pieces at 10 minutes are rather short, and so I have to bear in mind to some extent to whom I am playing, and the venue. If I’m on stage following a goth rock band I’ll want to keep it upbeat with perhaps a considered reflective moment two thirds of the way through. If I am playing in a concert hall to a seated audience I can take my time and build from my simple elegiac looped quartet Vigil in to something much more drastic by the end of the set.

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

I love St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch because I’ve played several concerts there, including a big one when I was 6 months pregnant, where I was joined by 11 brilliant musicians from across the globe, plus Amy Richardson-Impey, pole-dancer extraordinaire (in a church, it was awesome!) to interpret my first album ‘From The Sea’. So I’ll always have fond memories of St Len’s, and Rev Paul Turp. I’ve played some stunning venues in Australia, on my last tour a beautiful open air stage just outside Perth especially springs to mind, the sounds of the bush and the vast Australian night sky right there, all around us. It was breathtaking and I’m hoping to discover even more beautiful spaces to play when I head back in late February. And the Schauspiel Theatre in Leipzig too, because it was the scene of my first solo concert in Germany, I was dead nervous and the crew were fantastic and made me giggle just before I went on, so it was a good one!

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

I love listening to the Brandenburgs, well, any Bach actually. Perfection in so many ways. And I am very fond of Debussy, especially the piano Preludes (book 1) that I sort of hack through now and then feeling rather pleased if I get to the end minus a few notes. Actually that’s one of my favourites to perform come to think of it, the Debussy cello and piano sonata. It’s unbridled, so dark in places, so resigned at the end. Again, powerful stuff. And Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ is an album I’ll return to over and over again. I fall in love with music, and it forever belongs to that moment or time in my life, so I have strong associations built with both classical and contemporary works, which means I chose what I listen to very carefully.

Who are your favourite musicians? 

I listen to all sorts of cellists regularly, the well known greats and the lesser known equally great ones that YouTube flags up, it’s such a superb way to hear performance interpretations and watch too. I learn lots by watching cellists. Then there’s Matt Howden, a looping violinist. He’s a great friend of mine, a colleague I’ve worked with often, and a real inspiration. He’s on fire live, you have to see him. Actually, everyone I work with is a favourite! I am lucky to do a lot of session gigs too, and I work with artists from opera singers to rock and metal musicians, and they are all fantastic. I learn so much from each of them. Quite recently I played a concert with a rap artist who was phenomenal. I’ve never ever seen anyone on stage like that before, in any field of music, classical or otherwise. It was probably only 5 seconds of performance in the middle of one track but it felt like an hour to me, where he was clearly channelling something unseen, it was a pivotal moment for me to witness that kind of power on stage, and also the way he surrendered to and controlled it too.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

To date it has to be in March last year, where I was invited by orchestra Cappella Gedanensis (from Gdansk, Poland) to come and play a concert of my music with them. Jos Pijnappel arranged several of my pieces for me on solo electric cello and the orchestra and choir, and we also played Tavener’s ‘Svyati’ (on electric cello, it worked really well weirdly!). I was playing my music to a packed church full of Baroque music enthusiasts and I am honoured to say they gave me such a rapturous, warm reception and went beserk at the end, and I was in tears. I’ve never done anything like that before, and we have plans for a re-run next year in Poland, I’m very excited. It was always my secret ambition to one day play my music with an orchestra and I just feel so lucky to have met Cappella Gedanensis, they are unparalleled musicians and really really nice people too.

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

From a performance point of view? Believe in what you do, and do it with verve and aplomb. Even if you have no monitors! In all seriousness, I think it’s critical to be focused, to work hard, to study, learn, practice etc but there’s also a big factor in stage craft, and that side of being a musician is not teachable, you just have to get on stage, on platform or on floor and play your music, from start to finish, come what may, without stopping, and with conviction, irrespective of what happened in your dress rehearsal or sound check, good or bad, and then you start to learn the shape of things. I think this is true whether you’re a composing performer or repertoire performer. Well, it is true for me anyway.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m working on the arrangements of several short pieces for my amazing cello quartet that we will be performing as part of my next concert on 7th February. I’m doing a real mixed bag, held together only by the common thread that it’s music I like, that means something to me, so stuff by Schein and Bartok as well as something from the Fame soundtrack and some Nine Inch Nails etc. I’ve almost finished the arrangements, and at the same time I’m doing arrangements of some of my pieces for an ensemble in Tasmania that I’ll be playing with in March, so in short lots of dots is what I’m working on! I’ve begun sketching ideas for my next album too, and once ‘This Path With Grace’ is out I’ll feel more able to focus I think. I tend to feel more able to write once the previous project has been released, in whatever capacity. ‘Caldera’ is presented as a beautiful 10 page card book (inspired by the literature I was reading to Eila at the time!) with CD insert, so that took a lot of work, and in contrast ‘This Path’ will be a download only, though there is a stunning 20 minute film attached to it. I usually have a few projects on the go at once, and true to this I’ve two session collaborations sitting in Logic at the moment waiting to get out of the starting block. Things are busy, and I feel very thankful!

What is your most treasured possession? 

Outside of the normal things like Eila’s first babygrow it would be my cellos, and my copy of ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’. My mum gave it to me on my 21st birthday, and it’s been both a gift and a blessing.

www.joquail.co.uk

Corinne Morris

Who or what inspired you to take up the ‘cello, and make it your career? 
I believe the great pianist Samson François nurtured a love of music in me when I was only 2 as I used to be mesmerized by any of his recordings and would invariably stop all activity to listen to his wonderful playing. As for the cello and becoming a professional musician, I was 11 at the time and it was a concert at the Royal Festival Hall with Paul Tortelier playing the Dvorak Concerto. At the end of the concert, when the hall had cleared, I remember climbing onto the stage and sitting there where Tortelier had sat moments before and thinking: ‘one day I too will perform in great halls around the world’
Who or what were the most important influences on your playing? 
I have had many wonderful experiences with teachers: Raphael Sommer, a great disciple of Paul Tortelier, was a central figure in my early musical development and later I had the opportunity to have several lessons and master classes with Mtislav Rostropovich, Paul Tortelier, Bernard Greenhouse and William Pleeth – all very inspiring in their own unique way!
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 
By far the greatest challenge of all has been, having to ‘give up’ my performing career due to a debilitating shoulder injury. The psychological aspects of ‘losing’ your career are huge and greatly add to the physical pain. 18 months of rehab and a strong determination to perform again and I am now back on stage! What a wonderful feeling!
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of? 
My first concerto appearance after my injury was healed will always stand out as something special. For me it signified that I had overcome the injury, both physically and mentally.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in? 
Yes, one where there is an audience eager to listen
Who are your favourite musicians? 
In no particular order: Clara Haskil, Itzhak Perlman, Mtislav Rostropovich, Joshua Bell, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Fournier, Isaac Stern, Jacqueline du Pré, Yo-Yo Ma, Jonas Kaufmann, Martha Argerich, Paul Tortelier, Chris Botti, Barbra Streisand, Michel Camillo, Oscar Peterson
What is your most memorable concert experience? 
Performing at the Barbican Centre for Paul Tortelier’s Commemorative concert
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 
First and foremost, Music should be a passion if you are considering it as a profession – otherwise, the challenges along the way will be too huge and you’ll likely give up!
To very young students, I like to teach them how to practice effectively so that they can feel a certain amount of autonomy early on which I feel is important in helping them develop as human beings.
I will always try to nurture their own developing personality rather than imposing musical ways and attitudes.
Obviously posture and position at the instrument are very close to my heart and I am always checking and talking about this with my students
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time? 
Enjoying a fulfilling performing and teaching career.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? 
Being able to do what you love doing
What is your most treasured possession? 
My ‘cello, even though it is on loan to me so technically it is not ‘my’ possession
What do you enjoy doing most? 
Exploring new things, meeting new people
What is your present state of mind? 
Entrepreneurial
Corinne’s latest album Chrysalis is available on the Linn records label. More information
British/French cellist Corinne Morris was well on her way to enjoying a promising career performing in the major concert halls around the world, when a debilitating shoulder injury brought her dreams to a halt. Despair turned to hope after discovering a successful treatment from the field of sports medicine. She is now picking up where she left off. Corinne proudly marked her re-launch at the end of 2013 with her album The Macedonian Sessions; an 11-piece recording with the Macedonian Radio Symphony Orchestra featuring music from Tchaikovsky, Bruch, Fauré, Saint-Saëns and Piazzolla, along with a self-penned composition. Corinne has a long list of professional accomplishments, including being a prizewinner of the Maria Canals International Cello Competition in Spain, and the International French Music Competition in France. Corinne was chosen by Rostropovich to perform at his festival in Evian (where he affectionately nicknamed her Corinotchka). She was also invited to perform and take part in the world-famous Verbier Academy in Switzerland, as well as the international cello festival in Kronberg in Germany. Corinne has performed throughout Europe and beyond, including chamber music performances with Schlomo Mintz at the Jerusalem Conservatory. She has made several recordings for France Musique, Bayerischer Rundfunk (Germany) and ORF (Austria). Her BBC debut recital was broadcast on Radio 3, and she is on the list of solo artists for Radio 3 programmes. Corinne started the cello at the age of 8 and was a student of Raphael Sommer, a major disciple of Paul Tortelier. At age 16, she obtained an ARCM with honours (Royal College of Music, London) and continued her training at the prestigious Conservatoire in Paris where she graduated with a first prize in both cello and chamber music. She then completed a post-graduate solo cello performing degree at the University of Music in Vienna, Austria. During her studies, Corinne had the privilege to take part in lessons and masterclasses with Paul Tortelier, Mtislav Rostropovich, André Navarra, Bernard Greenhouse, Ralph Kirshbaum and Franz Helmerson. Corinne’s story has inspired many in the music industry and beyond. As she re-launches her career, she is passionate about changing industry attitudes towards injury through regular talks at universities and conservatoires, and interviews for publications including International Arts Manager, Classical Music Magazine and Gramophone.  Corinne plays a cello by C.A. Miremont dated 1876 on loan to her by a private investor. 
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Nina Kotova

Who or what inspired you to take up the ‘cello, and make it your career?

Listening to my father play double bass as a soloist made me consider becoming a musician. Cello as an instrument was chosen for me by my parents.

Who or what were the most important influences on your playing/composing?

Composing has come easily to me as the method of expression when I started reading music scores at age 7.

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

It is a challenge to understand the laws of interaction and the conflict between the world of musicians and the world of classical music management.

Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?

Considering how much we value each performance, performances that were the most important were the ones that brought the sense of accomplishment.

The audience today is taught to be guided mostly by physical expressions during performance instead of detecting the hidden movements of a soul. It would be incorrect to be solely guided by the reaction of the audience.

What do you consider your most important achievement?

Although I consider premièring and recording my Cello Concerto ten years ago an achievement, I think that the most important achievements are in the future.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

Concert venues with the best acoustics are definitely preferred.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

I have absolutely no favorites. To have favorites would mean to put artificially-created limitations on yourself. It is a powerful feeling to consider it all possible (even mastering less interesting works).

Who are your favourite musicians?

Musicians who are capable of giving their crystal clear souls away to the maximum are the musicians for whom I feel the most respect.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

The Red Square, Carnegie Hall, Berliner Philharmoniker.

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

Focusing on the inner expression in music and not the purely physical effect will eventually bring the art of performance into a more balanced state.

Creating your own creative world around yourself, learning and understanding how concerts venues and management work, meet people, establish relationships, create opportunities for yourself to perform.

Music says what a word is incapable of expressing. It uses the language of sound, pattern and form and masterful emotional input of the individuals involved .

Discussing the emotional charge as well as realizing what emotions music evokes in you is going to help you to appreciate classical music.

The most important thing is to cultivate the taste from the youngest age, develop curiosity to the arts and study.

What are you working on at the moment?

I often come back to the standard ‘cello repertoire, which is indispensable in putting recital programs together and performances with an orchestra as a soloist.

This season I am also premiering another newly completed concerto written by an American composer for ‘cello and orchestra.

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

I have received a very specialized type of education in the classical music – to keep unraveling my talents, achieving and fulfilling myself in other sectors of art.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Balance. A sense of accomplishment.

What is your most treasured possession?

My talent.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Being with my family.

What is your present state of mind?

Lev Tolstoy: ”But my life is now”

Russian-born cellist Nina Kotova has been hailed “passionate and inspiring”. According to Newsweek magazine, “she‘s a fantastically gifted cellist.” “Very expressive, imaginative, and she has a powerful stage presence.” Time magazine states: “She is a musician of high seriousness and real talent”.

Ms. Kotova studied at the Moscow Conservatory and Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany, giving her first performance as a soloist with orchestra at age 11. She made her Western debut in Prague with the Prague Radio Orchestra in 1986 after winning the Prague International Competition, and followed with debuts at Wigmore Hall, the Barbican Centre in London, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Ms. Kotova has since then performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras across the globe including the Czech Philharmonic, the Russian National Orchestra, the State Symphony Orchestra, the China Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic and the Royal Opera House orchestras, the BBC Orchestra, the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Gulbenkian Symphony Orchestra in Lisbon, and the Mozarteum Orchestra in Salzburg. She has performed on the Red Square in Moscow, for the Imperial family of Japan, and at Buckingham Palace. Upcoming highlights include performances in South America and the Al Bustan Festival.

Ms. Kotova has collaborated with musicians such as violinists Sarah Chang, Joshua Bell and Nikolaj Znaider, flautist Sir James Galway and pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Lang Lang and Hélène Grimaud, with Sting, and conductors Teodor Currentzis, Stephane Deneve, Vladimir Jurowski, Claus Peter Flor, Nicola Luisotti, Antonio Pappano, Libor Pesek and Tamas Vasary.

As a composer Nina Kotova has written numerous works for cello and orchestra. Her first Cello Concerto premiered in San Francisco in 2000. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that “Like Wolfgang Rihm in 1974, so Kotova in 2000 stands in defiance of both the emotional austerity of last century’s modernism and the new simplicity of so much recent music.”

Although perhaps most acclaimed for her performances and recording of the Dvorak Cello Concerto, Ms. Kotova has a keen interest in expanding the repertoire available for cello. A composer herself and a champion of contemporary music, Ms. Kotova commissioned several leading composers to write a Cello Concerto for her, including another recent collaborator composer Christopher Theofanidis. In 2009 Ms. Kotova performed the world premiere of the Theofanidis Cello Concerto with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, following with the Asian premiere of the work in Singapore with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jaap Van Zweden.

Ms. Kotova co-founded The Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona in Italy and Festival Del Sole in Napa Valley. She calls the Festivals “a mecca and meeting place for artists and admirers of the arts alike”.

Now performing with the instrument that Jacqueline du Pré made famous in the early 1960s and that Lynn Harrell played over the last two decades, she explains, “The cello is a unique instrument with the capability to reflect the most mysterious qualities of the human soul. As a solo instrument, the cello must have new works written for it that emphasize its virtuosity, powerful energy and lyrical impact.”

Ms. Kotova has taught as a visiting artist at the University of Texas and has been the subject of numerous features in Time, Newsweek, Vogue, Elle and the Wall Street Journal, as well as being on the covers of Classic FM, Gramophone China, Il Venerdi Italia and Reader’s Digest and appearing on television on A&E “Breakfast with the Arts” and the “Charlie Rose Show”.

She is carrying on the tradition of not only her legendary father, Russian double-bassist Ivan Kotov (1950-1985), but her teachers and mentors, which include Igor Gavrysh, Valentin Feigin, Boris Pergamenschikov and Mstislav Rostropovich.

An internationally acclaimed and celebrated performer and composer, Ms. Kotova is well on her way to inspiring today’s musical community-classical and beyond. In addition to a CD release of her own Cello Concerto recorded with the Philharmonia of Russia conducted by Constantine Orbelian (Delos, 2002), other recordings include her chart topping, self-titled debut album (Philips Classics, 1999), a recent recording of the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton (Sony Classics, 2006) and inclusion on the compilation Masters of the Bow (Deutsche Grammophon, 2003), which pays homage to the greatest cellists of the last 50 years.

www.ninakotova.com