Who or what inspired you to take up the violin and make it your career?

My father is a violinist and my mother a cellist. As a small child I used to play on a spare violin as if it was a cello. When I was eight my father gave me my first five-minute lesson on how to play the violin ‘the right way round’. I liked it so much better and knew that I had to learn this instrument so I could play just like him! In the end, the inspiration to make violin playing my career came from my experience in the National Youth Orchestra. The feeling of being in the middle of such an extraordinary sound was one that I wanted to be a permanent part of my life.

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

My violin teachers have all been hugely influential on my outlook. My childhood teachers Joan Penrose and Susan Collier taught me how to love my playing and how to practise effectively and efficiently, as well as giving me a really solid technical start. I always hear the voices of my two music college teachers (Yossi Zivoni and Richard Deakin) in my head while I practise and feel immense gratitude towards them for their great wisdom and encouragement. My parents’ continual love of music and performing for others is a constant inspiration.

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

The greatest challenge was overcoming a long period of performance anxiety. This is something that many performers shy away from talking about, which is a shame. I think we could all help one another if we talk about it more. A few years on, I feel a much stronger and more resilient musician as a result of the experience.

More recently, I performed in Aurora Orchestra’s Prom. We played a Mozart symphony from memory. It was at once completely terrifying and exhilarating.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Ensemble Matisse gave its Southbank Centre debut in January performing Triada by Christobal Halffter. I doubt I will ever come across a piece of chamber music so techinically challenging. We rehearsed the piece for more that forty five hours! The performance, in the presence of the composer himself, went brilliantly. We all had an enormous sense of pride and satisfaction!

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

I choose repertoire based on two things: what does the concert promoter/ music society want? Which pieces am I longing to play? Then I also try very hard to programme creatively and intelligently so that there is a sense of balance, continuity and variety in every concert. Whenever possible, I try to stretch myself technically and step outside of my comfort zones.

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

I absolutely love playing at the Albert Hall. I think this is mainly because I have many wonderful memories of going to listen to BBC Proms there as a teenager and longing to be on stage. Now that I am often given the opportunity to perform there, I feel so lucky! There is no feeling quite like a standing ovation at a packed Albert Hall.

For chamber music I really enjoy playing house concerts. It can be great to be so close to the audience as you get very direct feedback while you are playing. Large concert halls can feel really impersonal sometimes.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Both to perform and listen to: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. I don’t think I could ever get bored of it.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Leonid Kavakos, Janine Jansen, Ella Fitzgerald, Roby Lakatos…

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Well – I’m afraid this one is memorable for all the wrong reasons and mainly because it was completely ridiculous…

I once accidentally got involved with a performance at an experimental art exhibition. We ended up having to perform one of Brahms’s sublime string quartets a with our wrists all chained to one another’s. It was impossible and impossibly funny. Sorry Brahms.

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

Some things I wish I had discovered/ realised sooner:

  1. Performing should be about your audience’s enjoyment. Getting too sidetracked by minutiae could be at the expense of them having a good time. Get your priorities in order!
  2. The most important things your teacher will teach you are the things you didn’t even know were a problem. Your teacher should be teaching you to practise. A ‘good’ lesson is not necessarily a lesson where you play well.
  3. Practise is an art. Be proud of being an amazing practiser. I love practising. I wish I had more time for it.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am preparing to give five world premieres written for my group Ensemble Matisse at the New Dots autumn event “Interference Patterns” at Kings Place on the 3rd of November. We will play four works composed in collaboration with film makers by Lisa Illean, Daniel Kidane, Ewan Campbell and Liam Taylor West. We will also give the first performance of ‘Degrees of Freedom’ by renowned Dutch composer Jan Vriend.

What is your most treasured possession?

The most treasured object in my life is definitely my violin, but this does not feel like a possession- rather more that I am its caretaker for a while. Apart from that I think my most treasured possession is my good health.

 

Violinist Francesca Barritt recently graduated with destinction as a Master of Arts from the Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied with Richard Deakin and was previously a pupil of Yossi Zivoni at the Royal College of Music. Francesca was chosen to lead the symphony orchestras at both the RCM and the RAM. She has held the position of principal 2nd violinist in the prestigious Sainsbury Royal Academy Soloists ensemble for the entirety of her time at the Academy and has appeared with the group at Wigmore Hall and Seoul Arts Centre, South Korea.

She has been the recipient of awards from The Stephen Bell Charitable Trust, Arts and Humanities Research Council and has been awarded the Ian Anderson, Leverhulme Orchestral Mentorship and Marjory Bunty Lempford awards by the Academy. Francesca recently participated in a masterclass with Maxim Vengerov.

Francesca has given chamber and duo performances in venues such as the Purcell Room, St. James’s Piccadilly and the Kings Place, Bath, Norfolk and Norwich and Lake District Summer Music festivals. She is also much in demand to perform with established chamber groups and has recently collaborated with section leaders of the ECO, Halle, LPO and past members of both the Allegri and Lindsay string quartets. In 2011, Francesca performed 1000 bars by Kevin Volans as part of a BBC Proms composer portrait, which was broadcast on Radio3. More recently her performance of Hugh Wood’s Horn Trio at the Bath Festival was broadcast on Radio3.

As a freelance orchestral musician, Francesca is gaining much experience through extra work with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, English Touring Opera and Opera North and her regular work with the much-acclaimed John Wilson Orchestra has included performances at the BBC Proms, various tours of Britain and several recordings for EMI.

Francesca’s recent concerto engagements have included performances of Sibelius and Brahms concertos and a series of five performances of Beethoven’s triple concerto. This season she will perform Beethoven’s violin concerto with the Stamford Chamber Orchestra.

Francesca is a member of Ensemble Matisse.

Meet the Artist……Rozenn le Trionnaire

Ensemble Matisse

 

1538879_10152137519852220_1092949528_nWho or what inspired you to take up the violin, and make music your career? 

I originally began my studies on the piano, but I was a very bad student and very lazy in my practice.  One day I saw my piano teacher with a student on her main instrument (the violin) and I fell in love.  Over the following months I constantly nagged to learn the violin and eventually my mother and the teacher gave in.  I took to it very quickly, practiced relentlessly and progressed rapidly.  I never really felt that the violin would be my career (my parents wanted me to be a vet), it was always an obsession.  But when it came to higher education I could think of nothing I’d rather do than play my violin.  After my formal education I was quickly asked to perform both recitals and as a soloist with orchestra and I have continued to do so and love every second of it.

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

Drama and imagery. My pianist Daniel Roberts and I always say the music must not interrupt the drama.  Also I often (and without meaning to) associate the pieces I perform with literature.  For example, I often associate The Lark Ascending with Thomas Hardy.

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

Performing a chamber recital in a windy concert hall, the music blew closed and the pianist’s page turner had to rescue me (this was also broadcast live).  I have also created my own Orchestra (The WPO) which performed in  February 2014 – this has been quite a challenge.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?  

I’m very proud of a recital I gave at Southwark Cathedral with Daniel Roberts: it was the first time we performed the Franck Sonata together and there was electricity to the performance.  I am also proud of my recording of The Lark Ascending.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in? 

I particularly like the sound of St. Brides (Fleet Street) and would like to record there in the future.  I also quite liked performing in the Foundling Museum.  It’s quite a small venue, but seems extremely well suited to chamber concerts with a perfect balance.  I was performing Mozart, and it felt like I had gone back in time.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

I change my mind like the weather on my favourite pieces.  But currently it is Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3, Beethoven Violin Concerto and I really love the contemporary composer Nimrod Borenstein’s work.  His latest piece (If you will it, it is no dream) is extremely good.

Who are your favourite musicians? 

Any musician who can give me inspiration.  This would include pianist Daniel Roberts, violinist Leland Chen.  I love the Primrose Quartet and I’m a huge fan of Julia Fischer.  Plus Heifetz.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

It was actually when I was a child.  I had joined the county youth orchestra (I was accepted younger than the minimum age restriction because of my standard of playing, so I was the youngest and least experienced there).  I didn’t really know too much about the pieces we were playing or the composers.  In fact, I didn’t even know that the inside player turns the pages.  We played this boring piece with very little melody, which I hated.  On the day of the concert a solo violinist stood up and it turns out our ‘piece with very little melody’ was the accompaniment.  The piece (and the playing) was so beautiful that I forgot to play and just stopped to listen.  The piece was The Lark Ascending, and to this day I have a love of Vaughan Williams’ music.

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

Love and enjoy every aspect of music.  Enjoy the physicality, enjoy the technique, and enjoy the emotions.  Read about the composers, watch concerts.  Play solo, chamber and orchestral and love the variety of ways we can make music.  Teach others to play.  Listen and appreciate other instruments and styles.  But most importantly always question and always learn.

How do you make repertoire choices from season to season?

As far as repertoire for my chamber music goes, Daniel and I have developed a close friendship over time and are often suggesting pieces that would suit each others playing, the only problem is that we can’t play it all at once. With Concerto and solo repertoire, I often choose pieces that touch me in some way, that I feel a need to perform.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I am working on Delius Sonata No. 3, which I’ll be performing in the Wales Millennium Centre and Anteros Arts Norwich with pianist Daniel Roberts. I’m also working on ‘Autumn’ from the Four Seasons and the Beethoven Violin Concerto but these are more long-range projects.

Which pieces do you think you perform best?

I think it would have to be ‘The Lark Ascending’, though I am pleased with my performances of the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3.

What is your most treasured possession? 

My most treasured possession is obviously……my violin

Hannah Woolmer is a highly respected violinist with prolific experience as a recitalist.  She has performed in many of the UK’s classical music venues including St. Brides, Southwark Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, Bristol Cathedral, the London School of Economics and the London Festival of Contemporary Music.

Hannah’s performances have been broadcast on radio and 2012 saw the release of her  single ‘Lark Ascending’ which has been distributed on iTunes and with Amazon and reached #14 in the classical download charts.  Hannah also enjoys performing regularly as a soloist and has performed ‘The Four Seasons’ with Baroque Orchestra in London, Southend and Chelmsford, ‘The Lark Ascending’ with the University of Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra in 2011 and Bruch Violin Concerto in 2012.  

Hannah has performed with conductors Mark Galtry, Patrick Bailey and Jacques Cohen.  She has attended masterclasses and workshops with Bernard Gregor-Smith, John Thwaite, Susanne Stanzeleit and Robin Ireland.  Hannah has a great passion for the tradition of chamber music, and tries to bring aspects of her chamber experience into her solo performance, often resulting in a great rapport with the conductor and an intimacy with the audience very rarely seen in large scale works. 

Hannah’s collaboration throughout 2012 with Ukrainian Pianist Larysa Khmurych was met with critical acclaim.  They toured their recital programme to large scale concert venues, with Bristol and Ely Cathedral standing out as particular highlights in their calendar this year.  They quite quickly made a name for themselves with their fiery and heart-felt performance of Beethoven at the centre of their programme.  Hannah’s most recent collaboration is with pianist Daniel Roberts.  As well as continuing their busy recital schedule together which includes Wales’ Millennium Centre, Southwark Cathedral, the Anglo Japanese Society and The Foundling Museum to name a few.  They are currently recording their debut album together.