Wednesday 7 April 2010

Don't be fooled by eclecticism I'm classical and for real

It is very strange to see the extent of the musical eclecticism many musicians experience there before me on the internet.I am reflecting on the tiny amount of time I spent in recording studios on backings of 'popular' music, possibly two years? That is in relation to the time spent recording film music and adverts.

I studied at the Royal Academy of Music and I should honestly state that for all of my life I have continued to study and continued playing to many eminent teachers. Yes I was studying when I held the posts of Sub Principle of the English National Opera(there were two Sub Principle posts and I auditioned for the first and was a short while later promoted to the second Initially Seat No 4 and then promoted to seat no 3,respectively, however,I mostly sat on the front desk, as inside front desk as we had principle and co-principle cellists who shared/took it in turns to occupy the first or principle chair).

As for performing with some folk or pop after being principle solo cellist with the Royal Ballet but before broadcasting recordings in Bristol with the BBC Training Orchestra (later to be known as The Academy of the BBC)and then Welsh Opera tours and before my post at English National Opera I can state with great pride that my Royal Academy Professor Derek Simpson,concerto player, professor at the Royal Academy of music ,cellist with the Aeolian string quartet (the person we were honouring at the Tribute See YouTube Tribute to Derek Simpson Klengel whereby 22 of his pupils performed the work. (I am playing too, I am seated beneath his photo at the back) Derek Simpson is the cellist on the Eleanor Rigby record of the Beatles.Many have claimed that honour but we know it was DEFINITELY Derek Simpson! Yes music takes many forms and Andre Previn said there is only good music and bad music. These are subjective statements of course.

The recording session, well very often a phone call asking can you make .........studios 2pm til 5pm?. then the date.... yes you can .Fine, see you there. End of.'...

At this point I would have concurrently been hard practicing for my next cello lesson (keep up!...... I said that I was still studying privately)and so on I would have been prepared for what ever might be waiting for me to play in the studio. This would be either me on my own. The artist or producer wants a cello sound and I'm it. Ear phones on. playing to what I hear .One ear phone on its easier to hear myself. Two tracks ...done ....thankyou ......sign this here.. Bye .

For me that was the recording world, unless it was part of a grand scale orchestra say for a film backing track.Or an advert say Martini etc,Very often, due to multi tracking when one is phoned as I have described I didn't see any one else at the studio. Just the cello, the booth, the head phones and the track to play to. So I hate to disappoint anyone who thinks that every day was a 'party'.Recording studio work is NOT being in a rock band. Studio time is money here, so book people who get it right and quickly too! It is playing on a track recorded to be added or mixed, onto music already recorded, the other players frequently not present.It is a very unnatural way to play as music requires connection with an audience but we musicians do it and the results are very pleasing. From what I could tell, it was very much a blokes world and I only dipped a toe into the proceedings as did many other women players. The work requires superb standards of sight reading. Most guys who live on studio work are supremo sight readers.

The continuity of my private study enabled me to take up the personal invitation from
Paul Tortelier to attend his masterclasses in Nice. He remained a mentor until his death and even acknowledged me as a pupil, an honour indeed. As I stated I was a subprinciple at the English National Opera and it was an opportunity not to be missed.From there I was able to play to Raphael Sommer (a pupil of Tortelier sadly no longer with us, taken at a young age).He telephoned Jacqueline du Pre to recommend me for study with her whilst I was sitting there.

I was pinching myself as I found the whole situation so unbelievably magical I was so delighted and overwhelmed. I then went through the correct proceedures sending all of my information to Jacqueline's secretary, and the rest you know if you come to my concerts and read the biographical blurb about my first steps on the concert platform.Over a period I completely rebuilt my technique and this was with Antonia Butler a pupil of Klengel at Vienna with whom she studied when she was 16 years of age and then Alexanian a disciple of Casals.There is that man's name again, Casals. He is the source and fount of all I have learnt.

Hopefully there will be some further thoughts and or musings to be continued on this subject.