Talking to Thomas Gould

A Day in the Life of… Violinist Thomas Gould
són orchestra delivers first for Southampton with exciting Richter premiere


Following our fantastically well-received debut at Romsey Abbey, April sees a return to our home base, Turner Sims, with an exciting new venture: Southampton’s premiere live performance of music from pioneering British composer Max Richter, famed for his soundtrack to the recent BBC hit Taboo. And this isn’t just a Southampton premiere, either: it’s one of only two performances of Richter’s Four Seasons Recomposed in the whole of the UK this year – so make sure you catch it with us this spring!

First heard at London’s Barbican Centre in 2012, then performed at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2015, Richter’s iTunes classical chart-topping composition takes Vivaldi’s masterpiece as the starting point of a work described as ‘a startling musical transformation… drifting ambient soundscapes and monumental walls of sound’. And the són concert includes a further piece from this pioneering British composer, ‘On the Nature of Daylight’, which opens and closes the 2017 Oscar-winning film Arrival, and is also featured on the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island.

The concert offers an eclectic mix, appealing to classical music buffs and first-time concert-goers alike, as Richter is preceded in the first half by Vaughan Williams’ Five Variants of Dives & Lazarus and the passionate string colours of Barber’s ever-popular Adagio and Elgar’s Sospiri – a taster for the orchestra’s ‘Elgar Unwrapped’ event at the same venue in June.

“This concert features a powerful mix of string works which will really demonstrate the strengths of this professional orchestra,” explains Robin Browning, són’s artistic director. “And Richter’s treatment of Vivaldi’s music is not only fascinating and engaging, it also complements our commitment to promoting contemporary British music and to bringing superb live performances of newly imagined and reinterpreted works to Southampton audiences.”

We do hope you will be able to join us – and our superb soloist for Four Seasons Recomposed, violinist Thomas Gould. Leader of the world-renowned Britten Sinfonia, and one of the UK’s foremost interpreters of contemporary music, Gould has been described by The Guardian as ‘one of the new generation of classical musicians’. He shares with us his approach to concert performances – which includes an eclectic mix of tea with soya milk, Barbra Streisand belting out ‘Alfie’ and Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’. And his description of Richter’s music: ‘Edgy and epic!’

Read his one-to-one interview with Robin Browning for more inside information…


What is the day of a concert like for you?

I really look forward to concert days because I usually have the morning off to do nothing at all. A real luxury for me! I normally drive to the event which gives me the rare chance to just listen to music for sheer pleasure. Rehearsals on a concert day can be stressful so I like to take some time to myself before the performance itself. I have a bite to eat and several cups of tea with soya milk. Winding down afterwards involves more tea – and maybe something a bit stronger too!

Are there any special routines you always follow?

Not really, to be honest. I will practice and check through my markings on the score. Or, if I’m playing from memory, I’ll go through any potential pitfalls in detail.

How does performing the Richter compare with playing the Vivaldi original?

I’ve played the Vivaldi far more often so the Richter still has the excitement of the new. In terms of the actual notes the two pieces are in fact very different. The Richter needs more concentration. It takes phrases from the Vivaldi and repeats them, often with quite subtle differences, so you have to constantly make sure your fingers don’t automatically go into the default positions of the original piece.

Why would you encourage traditional classical music audiences to expand their horizons and experience Richter live?

I first performed Richter as part of the Sound Unbound Festival at London’s Barbican to a full house that included a fantastic mix of traditional classical music lovers and younger, more contemporary audience members. I can testify to the transformative effect Richter’s music had on everyone – and that many people can’t be wrong!

What three adjectives epitomise Richter’s music for you?

Edgy. Repetitive. Epic!

Imagine a contemporary composer has created a piece especially written for you. What would make it successful in your eyes?

The bottom line is that the audience has to enjoy it. They haven’t had the benefit of playing it or hearing it during hours and hours of rehearsals as the orchestra and the soloist have, so it’s really important they can get something from it on first listen.

Thomas Gould’s 60-Second Snapshot


Favourite piece of music
…to perform live
Bach’s Goldberg Variations

 …as a quick encore
A movement of solo Bach

 …to relax to
Barbra Streisand singing Burt Bacharach’s ‘Alfie’

 …to boost your energy
‘Syro’ by electronic musician and composer Aphex Twin

…from film or TV
The soundtrack to Taxi Driver

Who inspired you to become a violinist?
My sister [violinist Clio Gould]

Have you played any other instrument?
Hammond organ, piano, percussion

What is your favourite solo instrument to listen to?
The piano, it’s the most versatile

If you could play on any stage in the world, where would you choose?
St George’s concert hall in Bristol is a gem for its acoustics

Hear Thomas Gould perform Max Richter’s Four Seasons Recomposed with són at Turner Sims, Southampton on Friday 28 April at 7:30pm.

** Students and under-18’s **
special ticket price – ONLY £9

Tickets are £9 to £24 – click here for online box office
or call 023 8059 5151


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A Day In A Singer's Life

Want to know what soloists eat before concerts, how they choose what to wear, and how they keep calm?
Well, now you can find out, as we interview soprano, Lucy Knight


Here at SÓN, we always like to offer our concert-goers a little bit more. Our printed programmes are a good example of this.

Of course, we do cram it full of all the usual things, such as biographies, orchestra lists and programme notes (including, for our forthcoming Romsey Abbey concert next week, some brilliantly erudite notes from leading Beethoven-expert William Drabkin).

We think audience members like a little bit more than this, too. Our launch concert programme included specially written Sibelius articles, interviews and photographs, and even recipes for some Finnish Christmas goodies (it was a late-November event!)

So, for our Romsey debut, we couldn’t resist a couple of interviews. We enjoy a discussion with two of our són Masterclass students about the benefits and challenges of being an early-career orchestral musician. And we’ve also included a fascinating interview with the evening’s soloist, soprano Lucy Knight, about what her typical concert day looks like.

Want to know all about what soloists eat before concerts, how they choose their frock, and what they do to keep calm? Well, now you can find out – because we’re delighted to reproduce extracts from our interview below. Of course, if you’d like to find out more, including other interviews (no recipes this time, mind) you can pick up one of our programmes an hour before kick-off next Saturday. For now, read on and enjoy this taster…


Tell us about what you do on the day of a concert. What do you do to juggle all the timings, travelling & rehearsing?

My husband (a trombonist) and I have a busy schedule of concerts and late nights, so waking up early is not our greatest strength… On concert days I always feel a buzz of excitement: after weeks or months of preparation, now is the time to meet the orchestra and make the music come to life. I make an enormous breakfast to fuel me through the day – I’m currently obsessed with everything Sri Lankan, so it’s spicy scrambled eggs these days – before some exercise to wake me up, and a vocal warm-up. I’m a terrible driver, so if at all possible I will always opt for the train to concert destinations. We usually rehearse for three hours on a concert day, working through the music and addressing any issues such as balance (how loud the singer is in relation to the orchestra), which vary from venue to venue. Supper is usually rushing to the nearest restaurant that will serve food as early as 5:30pm, and quickly, before returning to the venue to get into concert dress and ready for the call to stage. Bed time is late after concerts as adrenaline is running high.

What about all the practicalities – how do you choose what to eat, what to wear, and are there any special routines you always follow?

Singers are told to avoid very spicy or high-dairy food, but I only have one food rule on concert days: to make sure there is plenty of it! Singing is very physical. We use our whole bodies to support the sound and make it carry over an orchestra, which requires a lot of energy. And there’s nothing more nerve-inducing than an empty stomach. I choose my dress the night before a concert and try to match it to the occasion, with dark colours for the Requiems and Passions, red for Messiahs, and pale or bright for more celebratory works like tonight’s Exsultate Jubilate. I don’t have any special routines as every ‘backstage’ is different (often I have my own dressing room, other times I can be sharing with a choir of 100) but you might find me in the kitchen breathing the steam from a kettle to hydrate my voice, especially after a heavy few days of singing.

What about your mindset? How do you approach an event from a positive mental perspective, and what do you do to stay calm and balanced?

It probably goes without saying that musical preparation is essential for a positive mentality. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel nervous before I perform, but learning to translate those nerves into excitement is one of the things we learn (whether through training, or trial and error) during the course of becoming a professional musician. And in fact the extra adrenaline is one of the things that makes a concert different to a rehearsal, and gives it that electrifying spark. Staying calm in general is definitely important, and for me this means a healthy lifestyle of good food, exercise, spending time with friends, and enjoying other things in life besides singing.

How do you know when an event has gone well, and how do you feel when you and your supporting orchestra have worked well together?

A great concert is immensely satisfying. I feel extremely fortunate to perform classical music as my job, and to be able to bring to life centuries of some of humankind’s greatest artistic endeavours. Music is not simply the dots on a page: it needs live performance in order to exist, and there is great excitement in bringing your own interpretation to these historical works and knowing that each concert will be different. I am aware that things have gone well with an orchestra when we are able to take risks together, and create the moments of spontaneity and magic where the music seems to have a life of its own.

What is special to you about the music you are singing in the Romsey Abbey concert?

To talk about the genius of Mozart must be the biggest cliche in classical music, but it exists for a reason. Not only is his music some of the most elegant and beautiful that has ever been written, but it is also captures the essence of human experience and emotion, expressing directly what words and other art forms cannot. In Romsey Abbey I am delighted to be singing Zerlina’s arias, the first Mozart role I ever sang whilst a student at Cambridge, in a notorious production which ended up with pizza falling into a harpsichord. Exsultate Jubilate also has special resonance for me, as this was one of the first concert works I performed as a Making Music Young Concert Artist in 2013, and how I met tonight’s superb conductor – Robin Browning – who was conducting the orchestra!

What do you do to unwind after an event?

You’ll probably find me with the orchestra in the nearest pub!


You can hear Lucy in concert with són at Romsey Abbey, Hampshire, in a programme of Mozart – arias from Don Giovanni and the Exsultate, jubilate – on Sat 18 March at 7:30pm.

Tickets are £12 to £22 – click here
or call 01794 512987 (during office hours only)


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8 Questions about 8 Seasons

Violinist Daniel Rowland talks about Vivaldi’s four seasons, Piazzolla’s tango music, violins
…and fish, with conductor Robin Browning

As a prelude to their performance together this October, són artistic director Robin Browning spoke with Daniel Rowland, charismatic soloist for “8 Seasons”, which features Vivaldi’s famous four seasons, coupled with Piazzolla’s tango-inspired quartet, so making up our fascinating “8”.

They chat about Vivaldi and Piazzolla, as well as Daniel’s inspirations, his love of tango music and a brief history of his beloved instrument.

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Robin Browning: You’ve got quite a connection with these fascinating pieces in this brilliant, but unusual combination. Most are familiar with Vivaldi’s four… So tell us a little more about those by Piazzolla.

Daniel Rowland: I heard Piazzolla for the first time at the Oxford festival in 2008, so I came rather late to it, in fact. They were played by Marcelo Nisinman, who is an amazing bandoneon player. He was once the protegee of Piazzolla – he used to rehearse in his parent’s apartment, so this little boy got to know the master very well. I remember the first time I got to play them all was with players like Priya Mitchell and a bunch of other brilliant players. I remember after that, I went to my hotel room and I burst into tears – I found this music so touching and so beautiful. I had never heard this kind of music before, it was my first contact with the Piazzolla.

And, so, following that there are two interesting things: one being that I founded a quintet with Marcello as a partner, who was in the original Piazzolla line up. We play a combination of old tangos and contemporary compositions written by Marcello which are based on the tango style.

And then the second thing is, quite shortly after having had this first Piazzolla experience in an orchestra, I was asked to play something for the Stellenbosch festival in South Africa, with orchestra, so I suggested the Piazzolla-Vivaldi combination which I had then just come across, following this concert in Oxford. So I played it there, and it was a huge hit – the audience were very enamoured. They had never heard this combination before, and I felt like I was on fire – I think! – so I recorded it there in South Africa and it has become a staple of my repertoire. I do think it’s an incredibly powerful combination: this Vivaldi and Piazzolla.

Daniel Rowland
© Balazs Borocz / Pilvax Studio

RB: I think they’re brilliant, the skillful way they cross-reference each other, and how cleverly each thread is interspersed. How many times do you think you’ve played it in your career so far?

DR: Oh, my goodness… I’ve played Vivaldi more, of course, because one is more often asked to play that. But the combination of the eight… maybe fifteen or twenty times, something like that. But, as you say about the cross-referencing thing: It’s amazing to think that these pieces span just about the whole period – Venice around the 1720s and then Buenos Aires around 1960’s-1970’s. And, yet, the sheer vibrancy, and the imagination in the music is incredible.

Piazzolla might have been inspired by Vivaldi, but I think he writes in very much his own language, too. I mean, in the original quintet version of the [Piazzolla] seasons – which I have also played many times – there are no particular references to Vivaldi. But in these arrangements we are going to play with són, there are echoes of Vivaldi, sometimes nested within the Piazzolla. These are touches from Desyatnikov (the arranger) and not Piazzolla himself, yet of course they draw a connecting thread through the entire evening.

It’s not only the greatness of Piazzolla, or the way it echoes Vivaldi, but more how his language is so dynamic and direct, as is Vivaldi’s, that makes it all fit so wonderfully together.

RB: And so how do they work in order? I mean, you intermingle them in performance – we don’t have a Piazzolla first half and Vivaldi second half… What order do you like to perform them in?

DR: Well, yes, doing a Piazzolla first half and Vivaldi second half certainly has its merits, I think. But usually, almost always in fact, I like to perform these in the same order that Gidon Kremer suggested, which is great I think and works wonderfully. So, he starts with Vivaldi’s Spring, and then goes to Piazzolla’s “Verno” – ie, to the Argentinian Summer. And then you keep altering like that. Back to Summer in Italy, then forward to Buenos Aires in Autumn, and so on.

This works because it means that the last three that you do begin with Piazzolla’s Winter, which is the most emotional and most exceptional of all of them; then after that, Vivaldi’s Winter because it’s quite a knockout. And, following that, Piazzolla’s “Primavera” which is Spring. Then after that quite wild and virtuoso ending, you can play a little memory of Spring by Vivaldi, a little bit like Schnittke, in quite a skeletal way – so it turns around quite nicely.

It’s fabulously intense music, so despite being only 8 little concertos (only!) it’s quite a compact programme length, yet because there’s so much going on, it feels like a nicely “packed” concert.

Daniel Rowland
© Balazs Borocz / Pilvax Studio

RB: Of course, all this flavour, intoxicating colour and contrast gives – to the audience – the illusion of greater length and density.

DR: It’s interesting, there’s certainly no lack of contrast, or virtuosity, or density in this programme! In many ways it’s a classic concert programme – both for those who love baroque music and also for those who love tango.

And also for people don’t know classical music that well and would love to give it a try. This programme really has everything you could possibly wish for in terms of direct appeal. There’s something for just about any taste.

RB: You mentioned Gidon Kremer, the famous violinist who originally commissioned the arrangements of Piazzolla by Desyatnikov (so as they would share the same scoring as the Vivaldi, as well as forming a beautifully coherent 8-concerto whole). Do you know Kremer, and have your paths crossed at all?

DR: No, I would very much like to have done, but I’ve never worked with Kremer. Having said that, he’s certainly one of my great inspirations. I love the way he always couples his violinistic abilities with such an inquisitive approach to all music. And, his whole openness about commissioning new works, plus I deeply love the way he plays tango music so instinctually.

RB: The two of us and són perform 8 Seasons in Southampton’s Turner Sims – such a fabulous hall, intimate and with fine acoustics. You must have been there in the past when touring with one of your quartets?

DR: Funny thing is, one of the concerts I did when I played with the Allegri Quartet (where I didn’t play very long, but for a little while) it could well be that one of the very first concerts I ever did with them was at Turner Sims, perhaps 2005 or something like that.

But, yes, I’ve played there many times. I particularly like the way the seating all stretches upwards, and I love the feeling of being in the “arena” with the audience.

Astor Piazzolla

RB: It’s a gorgeous hall – I never overlook the fact that són are lucky to perform there, especially as a part of their annual season. You’ve enjoyed a very successful and busy career chamber musician, but are you increasingly in demand as a soloist these days?

DR: I’ve always done a lot of solo work, enjoying a lot of diversity, but I have played a large amount of solo repertoire, contemporary works, chamber music and – like I said – a lot of tango music too. So it’s been an important thing for me. I would never say that I’m exclusively a chamber musician because I do too many different things, but of course in the United Kingdom, I am.

People know me maybe because of the Brodsky Quartet and that’s where a lot of people see or hear me, but I am very much at home playing solo works, recital repertoire and concertos – especially early 20th century concertos – and also slightly more unusual repertoire. I think I’m a bit of a centipede, you know, with many different limbs doing different things!

RB: Before you go, let’s talk violins and violinists a little more. Who did you study with, and who inspires you?

DR: I’ve been lucky enough to study with Igor Oistrakh, and also with Ruggiero Ricci. And with Ivry Gitlis, who I’m still very much in touch with. Earlier we both mentioned Kremer, who unfortunately I’ve never worked with but he’s a big inspiration to me.

RB: One last question – tell us a little bit about your instrument, and perhaps a little bit of it’s history.

DR: I play on a Storioni, which was made in 1794. He is considered the last of the great Cremonese makers. Mine is from his golden period, just as it drew to a close.

Incidentally, if you go to google images and search for “Storioni”, you’ll see: violin, violin, fish, fish, fish, violin, violin, fish… And this is because Storioni means “sturgeon (fish)” in Italian. A little known fact!

So I got this violin about ten years ago, and it used to belong to Gordan Nikolitch [previously leader of the London Symphony Orchestra] so the violin has quite nice history.

RB: Thank you Daniel for your time and your stories. I’m looking forward to hearing your Vivaldi and Piazzolla next month, and can’t wait to see you on stage at Turner Sims with són. Until then!


As you can tell, “8 Seasons” on October 22nd is going to be quite special, promising a diverse programme and a fantastic soloist. An evening of both well known classics and lesser known gems, it will take through four seasons on two sides of the planet, transporting you from Vivaldi’s Venice straight to Piazzolla’s Buenos Aires and back again. All from the comfort of Turner Sims! We look forward to seeing you there.

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30 seconds with John Suchet

John Suchet, presenter of Eroica Unwrapped,
Answers our questions about Beethoven, the Eroica…
…and audiences in t-shirts

Those of you who made it to our fantastic ‘Eroica Unwrapped’ concert will know that we were lucky enough to have the Classic FM presenter and author John Suchet unwrap Beethoven’s third symphony for us. He provided us with knowledge of Beethoven’s life and how much of it is poured into the Eroica, as well as engaging in an exclusive book signing for the lucky audience members.

Here at són we like to give you that little bit extra, so John very kindly agreed to a short interview to explain to us why he believes Ludwig to be ‘the master’ of classical music and why his works are so influential.

In your “unwrapping” of the Eroica, you described it as “Beethoven’s finest achievement” – why do you think that?

I think that it’s not only Beethoven’s finest achievement, I think it’s the greatest symphony ever written by anyone, ever, in the history of the world – ever! I really hope that [our Eroica Unwrapped concert] will bring that out. It’s almost twice as long as any other symphony that any other composer had ever written, it breaks the rules from the very opening chord. I’ve heard it I don’t know how many million times but it always takes me by surprise at every turn. Beethoven is the master, it’s as simple as that.

Why is he so much more influential than all of the others?

Remember he went deaf, very slowly over a long period of time. I think Beethoven, more than any other, pours his life into his music. If you know what’s happening in his life at the time of writing a particular piece of music, you listen to it through different ears. All of Beethoven’s problems, he had them throughout his life and they were all self inflicted, with the single exception of his deafness. They’re there in his music. You hear it in the Eroica, you hear his struggle to overcome his deafness and by the end of the symphony he’s overcome it. Now musicologists will debate why it’s E flat and not C sharp, but what interests me is what’s happening in his life and he is coming to terms with his deafness. He’s just written his Will and Testament, he’s reserved to himself the right to take his own life if he can no longer hear his music – but he never does. His hearing gets worse and worse but his compositions get greater and greater and it’s the triumph of this man’s will, his sheer determination to overcome that affliction – and that’s there in that symphony. If anyone’s down in any way – Beethoven’s Eroica, by the end of it I could climb Mount Everest!

Beethoven’s 5th arguably has one of the most distinctive and well known openings to any piece of classical music, why do you think Eroica deserves more recognition?

The 5th is better known because it was used during the Second World War to alert the free French to messages from the BBC in London. This isn’t as well known in that sense but it is as dramatic, to me it is more dramatic, because Beethoven’s first two symphonies in a way are Mozartian. They’re harking back to Mozart and Haydn, his two great contemporaries. The Eroica is the turn of the century, we are in a new century and he is taking the symphony into a completely new direction, nothing like it had ever been written before. Now people will say the fifth is greater, or the ninth is greater – I wouldn’t argue, other than to say the Eroica is the first that absolutely set a new path.

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Has classical music always been such an important part of your life, right through your childhood and journalistic career?

I’ve always loved it because at school I was actually quite a good musician, well a very mediocre one – but not bad. But I originally wanted to become a musician, and that was my ambition, but fortunately for the world of music I changed my mind and went into journalism. So it’s always been there at the back of my life, so to speak, and I have to confess that at school and at university, all my friends were listening to the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd – things like that. I was a bit into Tchaikovsky and Beethoven and Mozart – a bit anoraky but I won’t apologise for it. I loved it, and I still love it, and now it’s my career thanks to Classic FM. Who would have thought that?

How do you think we can broaden Classical music to a wider, younger audience?

First of all, cut the stuffiness out of it. I’m not sure what Robin is going to wear tonight but when I see a conductor walk on stage in white tie and tails, my heart does sink a little. That’s not going to get young people in, I’d like to see the conductor and the orchestra in casual clothes, I know everyone likes dressing up and I’ve heard people say ‘we like dressing up because they do’ but I would like to see people in the audience in jeans and t-shirts. They’ve come to hear the music!

And the other thing is, if you explain to the audience what they are about to hear, what to listen out for – and I don’t mean Eb as opposed to C# – I mean: ‘Was the composer in love when he wrote it? Was he drunk? What was going on in his life when he wrote it? And by the way listen out for this particular bar because you won’t believe what he does there.’ No key signatures, no opus numbers, tell them what’s going on in his life. Then when you explain you see them almost go ‘oh yeah that’s what he said, I get that.’ That’s the way, I think, to bring people in, by demystifying it. All these great composers are geniuses, unlike any others who have ever lived, but they’re still human beings. I mean Beethoven had to eat and drink, pay his rent. He may be a god to us now, but he had to live like an ordinary mortal. That’s the way to do it.


Many thanks to John for allowing us to talk to him. Our sell-out “Eroica Unwrapped” concert was a great success, which couldn’t have been achieved without John or our wonderful orchestra. However, the real hero of the night? It had to be Beethoven.

Sophie Hart
són Creative Intern

May 2016


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The Viola - Unsung Hero of the Orchestra

A LOOK AT THAT MOST HEROIC
OF INSTRUMENTS – THE VIOLA

The viola. The big brother of the violin, the smaller of the cello – the middle child as it were. Much like the middle child, the viola gets overlooked and underappreciated, well, depending on who you talk to. Despite its crucial harmony parts in all of the great orchestral works the poor viola is barely ever given the recognition it deserves. Its rich sound provides the perfect tone to fill the chords and therefore gives us those spine chilling moments of a full orchestral sound. Despite these small beginnings, as orchestral music developed so did the viola parts – for instance, in Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique the viola plays the tune during the slow movement and Mendelssohn (who is the basis for our A Midsummer Night’s Dream concert) wrote a Viola sonata in C minor. In a typical, large symphony orchestra there are twelve viola seats, but because són is a chamber orchestra, we generally carry a section of four – this would have been pretty standard for Beethoven’s day, too.

The viola is so well loved that even the greats played it, Mozart, Haydn, and the star of our Eroica Unwrapped concert, Beethoven himself. Of course, they played the violin as well but nevertheless, my point stands. Here at són we love our violas so much that we want to give them a say, and prove to you all that our real heroes come from the centre. As part of an exclusive interview for the són Circle, I got to talk to Sophie Renshaw – our principal viola:

What do you think is the viola’s main role within the orchestra?

I would say that – similar to its role in chamber music from Mozart, Schumann and Brahms onwards – it plays a pivotal role in the harmonic colour and texture of scores. Being in the middle range, it lends warmth and depth to the string section sound and is often given key notes in the harmony, as well as pivotal notes in harmonic modulations, tensions and major/minor changes. To my ear it is the most fun part to play as the violas tend to sit right in the heart of the orchestra. Since composers often give the tune to the violas, a violist needs to be equally aware of playing either the top line to accompany other parts, the bass line with the celli/bass, or an accompanying line with the second violins. Never a dull moment!

How were you introduced to your instrument?

I was introduced to the instrument when asked to play it in a string quartet at school. I had been a violinist for a few years but never really felt quite at home and the moment I picked up the viola aged about 15 I was hooked. I loved it primarily in chamber music and then gradually began exploring the solo repertoire. I have picked up the violin again from time to time, for instance to be able to play both parts for Schoenberg’s ‘Pierrot Lunaire’.

What is your favourite piece for viola?

It is very hard to choose just one favorite piece written for it, but among my favourites would be the Brahms sonatas, Britten’s ‘Lachrymae’ and Hindemith’s ‘ Trauermusik’.

Who is your musical hero?

J S Bach, Chick Corea, Glenn Gould, and John Wyre among many others!

Thanks, Sophie, for enlightening us!

Of course, this isn’t to say that the rest of the orchestra isn’t heroic. You can’t have any piece of music without a melody line or a bass line and it doesn’t become interesting without a countermelody. As much as we would like it to, the violas cannot provide all of this alone so we realise that every part is vital, each and every instrument is an unsung hero in its way. It’s just this week we like the viola.


Sophie Hart
són Creative Intern

April 2016


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Meet our new Interns

Meet the two newest members of the són team:
Our new Creative Interns

Here at són we’ve recently recruited two members of the team and seeing as the newest ones are our creative interns we thought we should get them to introduce themselves! You should be hearing a lot from Hannah and Sophie in the coming months, what with Eroica Unwrapped on the 22nd of this month and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to be held on 18th June, they will give you all of the inside information!

To get an idea of what they are like we’ve asked them a few quick questions…


What are your musical interests?

Hannah: I am a massive follower of the hip-hop scene and am very into electronic music. But experimental collaborations and classical cross-genre work really excites me. I commend artists such as ‘The New Pollutants’ whose electronic-orchestral soundtrack Metropolis Rescore dared to try something new and inventive. I really appreciate talented musicians and am generally open to indulging in all music genres.

Sophie: I love going to music festivals so I can’t pinpoint my music taste to one particular genre, but one of the best performances I’ve been to was Mumford and Sons’ headlining set at T in the Park 2013. I’m also a big fan of The Strypes, they are an Irish rock group inspired by 60’s blues!

However, I also regularly play in brass bands, so that opens me up to classical arrangements and brand new composition.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

H: As a Film student currently studying for a Masters in Film management, I hope to be successfully marketing independent films and working with amateur filmmakers, inspiring them to follow their filmic ambitions.

S: I currently study English as an undergraduate but I would love to go into arts journalism as a career. I have a keen interest in music, theatre and obviously literature so I would love to go onto write for a website or publication.

What’s your classical background?

H: I played the violin from a young age and was part of the BYMT orchestra for three years, performing to audiences in Kent. As a dancer and keen performing arts enthusiast, I have enjoyed numerous theatrical classical performances. Hearing Tchaikovsky’s dynamic Swan Lake for the first time will always be a magical memory.

S: As I said, I play in brass bands so my classical background in terms of playing is quite limited. However, I studied music up to A level so I have some knowledge of the style. I also have several friends studying music all over the country, in fact the first time I watched a live orchestral performance was when I went to see my best friend play with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain!

If you were in the orchestra, what instrument would you play?

H: The Violin will always be my instrument of choice. Maybe I’m just being biased to a familiar old friend, but I just love its rich sound. The tones it can produce are just so expressive! A truly classic instrument that will usually perform the melody for an orchestral piece, proud and centre stage.

S: French horn, it’s the closest one to my own instrument! However, the french horn is also a beautiful instrument, providing some wonderful counter melodies and blowing the audience away with its sound. Mozart’s horn concertos are well worth a listen!

What are you most looking forward to whilst working with són?

H: I can’t wait to do some hands on work with the team, spreading the word about the orchestra, a truly talented team of artists. I’m also thrilled to be attending són’s upcoming performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an aural and visual collaboration of Mendelssohn and Mayhew. From a behind the scene glance I can assure you, this experimental extravaganza is not one to be missed.

S: I’m really looking forward to promoting some of the són education projects, especially supersónic. I think it is really important to get children interested in classical music and learning an instrument is the best way! I’m also looking forward to attending our first concert as a part of the són team, Eroica Unwrapped is going to be really interesting – we get to learn something new ourselves!

Is there something you want hear about from són? Don’t hesitate to send us your suggestions, we’ll try to write what you request!


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