tasmin-little

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

It was quite by chance – I feel ill with chicken pox and was bored so I began to teach myself the recorder. I really loved playing an instrument and when I was better, I started the piano and the violin

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

Yehudi Menuhin was a huge influence of course…..but I think that all the teachers at school had their own influence and we learned from all of them. Since leaving school and performing professionally, many conductors have influenced me, especially Richard Hickox and Sir Andrew Davis

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

Performing the Ligeti violin concerto – it’s hugely difficult and really challenges the player in every way!

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

I am very proud of my Elgar concerto with Andrew Davis and Royal Scottish National Orchestra. It won a Classic BRIT Award and I felt very happy as I waited a long time to record it, so I felt I gave my very best.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

I’d like to think that I am able to bring some insight into every composer that I choose to perform. If I don’t feel an empathy with a composer or piece, I prefer not to play it! I’d rather leave it to people who like it, and play the things that I like most. That said, I have a huge repertoire so I haven’t exactly limited myself!

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

There are various factors to consider – who I’m playing with and the repertoire that they like. Orchestras often have their own ideas regarding repertoire and then I like to learn new pieces every year so I am always programming new things.

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

I adored playing in Carnegie Hall – the floorboards are alive with history, it’s so inspiring!  I was playing with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra so I was in amazing company!

What is your most memorable concert experience?

It’s hard to choose because I have had so many fantastic experiences but probably my concert in the Royal Albert Hall at the Last Night of the Proms – the atmosphere was so amazing and so friendly! I also enjoyed playing for 40,000 people in Hyde Park – very exciting indeed to see all those faces!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

My definition of success is simply to be playing to the very best of my ability.

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

The most important thing is to be yourself. Anything less than that will come across as un-natural and superficial so it’s important to be authentic

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

I’d like to be enjoying a career in broadcasting, as well as some motivational speaking, plus finding some time for hobbies and seeing plenty of my friends and family!

Tasmin Little performs at Music at Paxton with pianist Piers Lane on 23 July in a programme including music by Schubert, Brahms, Ireland, Vaughan Williams and Franck.

Further information


Tasmin Little has firmly established herself as one of today’s leading international violinists. She has performed on every continent in some of the most prestigious venues of the world, including Carnegie Hall, Musikverein, Concertgebouw, Philharmonie Berlin, Vienna Konzerthaus, South Bank Centre, Barbican Centre and Royal Albert Hall, Lincoln Center and Suntory Hall.

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

I actually started university with plans to do a double degree in maths and music. At a certain point though I realized that to not do music would be a much bigger decision than to continue on in the field – I’d been playing violin for basically my whole life and couldn’t remember a time when it wasn’t something I did!

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

I’d been very lucky to work with some great musicians, both as mentors and colleagues. I had the privilege of working with Yehudi Menuhin as a teenager, and more recently have had the chance to learn from and work with some of the world’s greatest conductors. I started my career quite young, as I won a position in the Montreal Symphony when I was 19. The first conductor I worked with there was Zubin Mehta, and continuously had great artists performing on stage five feet away from me. I quickly realized that there was a lot I could learn from getting to perform with the world’s best!

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

Like many fields, work-life balance in the classical music world is not easy and takes a lot of care. I travel a lot for performances, and finding the mix between touring life and family can be difficult. I’m lucky in my career to have had the chance to do many different things, including teaching, orchestra, chamber music and solo touring. Keeping on top of everything can be tough- I’m lucky to live in the days of cell phones and emails though!

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Too many to mention! I really love recording, and I’m really happy to have had the chance to record Scheherazade with Peter Oundjian and the TSO when I first joined the orchestra. I’m also really proud of a recent New Orford String Quartet disc of Brahms Quartets, for which we won a JUNO!

Which particular works do you think you play best?

Ha – whatever I haven’t played recently and I’m excited to revisit? I think this changes throughout one’s life – I feel great about coming back to certain pieces a learned as a kid – many of the standard concerti. I think living with a piece for a long time is a great way to feel comfortable with it.

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

Generally, this is a bit of a joint decision; with concerti it depends what the orchestra that I’m playing with has or hasn’t done recently, and with chamber music it’s a discussion with my colleagues. I find it interesting to tie in programs that might have a connection that people don’t realize, and I really love variety in programming within a single concert. It’s fascinating to hear how certain pieces are influenced by what came before them or what might have been going on around them in the world at the time of their creation.

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

I love touring and getting to experience different halls around the world. I always love to play in Carnegie Hall because of the history there, and I think that Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires is just about the most beautiful looking and sounding building that I’ve ever seen!

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I’d have to say performing the Tchaikovsky Concerto with Sir Yehudi Menuhin as conductor while I was still in university. The audience wouldn’t stop clapping after the first movement (it perhaps wasn’t a standard symphony-going public, but a lot of the general public wanted the chance to see such a legend live in concert…) and he thought the whole thing was hilarious. He was on stage laughing while I had no idea what to do!

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I think this varies from person to person. It’s so hard to make a living in classical music, and I think anyone who can actually perform great music for a living should be thrilled!

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

That’s a hard question to answer—so much of what we learn is through the process of doing, and needs to be experienced rather than taught. I personally find it hard to find a balance between striving for perfection, but accepting human frailty; I think to be successful in music one has to be a real perfectionist, but also to understand that perfection isn’t necessarily attainable and that audiences aren’t actually looking for a “perfect’ performance, but rather for something special to be communicated between performer and listener.

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

Specifically, where? Perhaps on a beach somewhere—it’s cold in Toronto right now! Seriously, I’d be happy to be exactly where I am right now…

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Finding the perfect balance between life, family, career and everything else! Of course this balance is almost impossible to find, but I think the search is important.

What is your most treasured possession?

I guess everyone would expect me to say my violin? I’m not really sure honestly—things don’t last forever. I really like the recent studies that show that experiences make people much happier than things. Memories don’t wear out.

What is your present state of mind?

Somewhere between extremely relaxed and very stressed about all the things I need to do in the next two hours. Ask me again tomorrow and it will probably be exactly the same.

Jonathan Crow will be featured as a soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on 28, 29 and 30 June, performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto, under the direction of TSO incoming Music Director Gustavo Gimeno. Further information


Jonathan Crow has been Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 2011. A native of Prince George, British Columbia, Jonathan earned his Bachelor of Music in Honours Performance from McGill University in 1998, at which time he joined the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) as Associate Principal Second Violin. Between 2002 and 2006, Jonathan was the Concertmaster of the OSM; during this time, he was the youngest concertmaster of any major North American orchestra. Jonathan continues to perform as guest concertmaster with orchestras around the world. He has also performed as a soloist with most major Canadian orchestras, under the baton of such conductors as Charles Dutoit, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Sir Andrew Davis, Peter Oundjian, Kent Nagano, Mario Bernardi, and João Carlos Martins.

Jonathan joined the Schulich School of Music at McGill University as an Assistant Professor of Violin and was appointed Associate Professor of Violin in 2010. Current and former students of Mr. Crow have received prizes at competitions around the world, and work regularly with major orchestras in North America and Europe. Jonathan is currently Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Toronto.

In 2016, Jonathan was named Artistic Director of Toronto Summer Music, which recently announced record attendance in his first full season. An avid chamber musician, he has performed at chamber music festivals throughout North America, South America, and Europe. He is a founding member of the JUNO Award–winning New Orford String Quartet, a project-based ensemble dedicated to the promotion of standard and Canadian string quartet repertoire throughout North America. As an advocate of contemporary music, he has premièred works by Canadian composers Michael Conway Baker, Eldon Rathburn, Barrie Cabena, Gary Kulesha, Tim Brady, Francois Dompierre, Ana Sokolovic, Marjan Mozetich, Christos Hatzis, Ernest MacMillan, and Healey Willan. He also includes in his repertoire major concerti by such modern composers as Ligeti, Schnittke, Bernstein, Brian Cherney, Rodney Sharman, Vivian Fung, and Cameron Wilson.

Jonathan has recorded for ATMA, Bridge, CBC, Oxingale, Skylark, and XXI-21 labels and is heard frequently on Chaîne Culturelle of Radio-Canada, CBC Radio Two, and National Public Radio, along with Radio France, Deutsche Welle, Hessischer Rundfunk, and the RAI in Europe.

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

As a child, in Cape Town, I played recorder and then classical guitar, and at the age of 9 I started violin lessons as I really wanted to be in the school orchestra. Already then, the lure of making music with others took hold. But it was not a given that I would be a musician. My secondary school was sporty and academic, and I got a scholarship to study medicine at University. However a gap year convinced me that a career in music would be infinitely more exciting than life as a medic, albeit far more insecure, and I headed to the Guildhall School of Music in London to concentrate on the violin, a decision I have never regretted!

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

I would say violin lessons with Gyorgy Pauk and Sandor Vegh, and chamber music coaching from members of the Amadeus Quartet (especially Siegmund Nissel) were a real inspiration to me, musically. But I was also an avid concert-goer, and a love of live music-making was instilled in me from an early age.

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

Fitting everything in, and finding time for recharging those batteries! I was luckily born with a lot of stamina, and I have certainly needed it.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

The complete cycle of Shostakovich Quartets which I recorded for Chandos with the Sorrel Quartet, and played live over a weekend in Cratfield Church in Suffolk. Nothing will compare to that epic journey, both emotionally and physically. One of the great excitements of now joining the Brodsky Quartet is that they have shared similar Shostakovich journeys and I am looking forward to comparing “travel notes”.

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

I can think of two, straightaway. The first, Wigmore Hall, London. Perfect acoustic, perfect size, wonderful audience, and the sense of history walking onto that stage, well-documented in all the photos lining the Green Room walls. I made my solo debut there at the age of 21, and I vividly remember playing the Bach Chaconne as part of the programme in that heavenly acoustic, and thinking how amazingly fortunate I was to be there. The second, Snape Maltings near Aldeburgh. Every creak and groan from the wooden structure has one imagining Benjamin Britten’s presence still there in those rafters. Years ago, when they replaced the bluffs on the roof, my then quartet, spending a winter in residence in Aldeburgh, was sent as a publicity stunt to be pictured with instruments (luckily not our own!) on the roof…and oh, the view across the marshes, with the steel grey water meandering in loops through the reeds! You never see that from ground level. A very special place indeed.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Too many to list, but currently: Maria Joao Pires, Henning Kraggerud, Kristine Opolais, Paul Lewis

What is your most memorable concert experience?

As a child, hearing the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at the Alhambra Palace in Granada. The setting, the architecture and the music made such an impression on me.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I think if one feels successful, one might as well retire! As musicians we are so fortunate to be involved in a career we love, where we can continue learning and being curious and growing in experience throughout our life. Sharing this passion and enthusiasm with audiences or students is surely the most rewarding part of our life? If just one person is moved or changed in some way by their experience in a concert hall then perhaps we have been successful in our mission?

What is your most treasured possession?

I know I should say my violin! But actually it is a string of pearls which belonged to my Austrian/Italian mother, and her mother before that, the only piece of her jewellery which travelled from Europe to South Africa and was not stolen in a burglary. My only sadness is I cannot wear it when playing violin!

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

Work hard – nothing valuable is ever gained without that – but be open to inspiration from a broad range of genres. Do not spend all your day in a practice room. Walk in nature, visit an art gallery, go to the theatre, read, explore… you will need far more than an assured technique if you are to have something interesting to share with an audience. And every time you play a piece, find something new in it, and take risks.

Gina McCormack will join the Brodsky Quartet from May 2019. Find out more


Gina McCormack is well established as one of Britain’s leading artists, with regular solo appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall, the South Bank Centre and at venues across the country. She has performed at many British Festivals, including the City of London, Henley, Edinburgh, Buxton, Aldeburgh and Salisbury Festivals, and has appeared as soloist in the UK with the Hallé and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras and the former Bournemouth Sinfonietta. Tours abroad have taken her to France, Norway, Denmark, the Czech Republic, South Africa and South America, and most recently to Austria and Switzerland.

Gina studied with György Pauk at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and attended masterclasses with Sandor Vegh (at the Salzburg Mozarteum and at Prussia Cove in Cornwall), Dorothy DeLay, Andras Mihaly and Siegmund Nissel (from the Amadeus Quartet). While still a student, she was a prizewinner at the Royal Overseas League Music Competition in London and at the International Young Concert Artists’ Competition in Tunbridge Wells, where she has since returned to serve on the jury.

For thirteen years Gina was the leader of the Sorrel Quartet, with whom she was frequently heard on BBC Radio Three. The quartet made twelve CDs for Chandos Records, of works by Britten, Mendelssohn, Schubert and the complete cycle of Shostakovich quartets. Their Elgar CD was chosen as one of Classic FM’s records of the year and was Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine. The group also recorded John Pickard’s Quartets on the Dutton label.

She then led the Maggini Quartet for two years, and decided to leave the group in March 2010 to focus on her solo work, continuing a long association with her duo partner, pianist Nigel Clayton. Since then the duo has had engagements in Holland, Switzerland, Denmark, and all around the UK.

Gina McCormack is also well-known as a teacher, having spent 11 years as professor of Violin at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (formerly Trinity College of Music) in London. She is currently teaching at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow.  She also gives regular masterclasses both in the UK and at summer festivals abroad.

ginaviolin.com

 

artist photo: Melanie Strover


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