Music is not something to do in isolation and I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with many inspirational musicians, too numerous to list here. I salute them all as masters of their art and thank them for their friendship, enthusiasm and encouragement.
Pianists, organists and harpsichordists
Trevor Hughes – Keyboards
Trevor Hughes and I first worked together in 2009 and have developed a lasting partnership. Equally at home on the organ, piano or harpsichord, Trevor’s musical tastes and expertise know no bounds, his sight-reading no limits and his patience no ends. You can hear some of our work together on the audio page.
Devon Baroque, directed until March 2012 by renowned violinist Margaret Faultless, has developed a reputation in the South West for it’s vibrant and historically informed performances.
I am proud to have joined the orchestra on a number of occasions as soloist in concertos by Vivaldi, Telemann and Bach in my home county of Devon. I have also given recitals on Handel and the English Flute and The Golden Age of English Music.
The British Paraorchestra
The British Paraorchestra is the world’s first professional orchestra for musicians with disabilities. Under its Musical Director, founder and driving force, Charles Hazlewood, I have joined the BPO for performances at the TED conference in Brussels, the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London as part of the Southbank’s 2012 Unlimited Festival and most recently at the Colston Hall, Bristol with the Southbank Sinfonia. The highlight so far in the Paraorchestra’s short existence was undoubtedly performing at the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games at London 2012 alongside Coldplay to a global audience of millions!
Paraorchestra is a collective of some extraordinary musicians, each of whom happens to have a disability and many of whom have overcome considerable challenges to regain and retain their ability to make music. It is a true privilege and a blessing to have met and worked with such a group. As a recorder player, it is not every day you get to work alongside electric guitars, saxophones and harmonicas, tablas, ouds and harps, and interact with live electronics. Our first commission, ‘Towards Harmony’ by the young composer Lloyd Coleman, includes a duet for recorder and harmonica which is a spine-tinglingly exquisite moment.
Tactile is an ensemble of sighted, partially sighted and blind musicians, all working under blindfold. Tactile’s inaugural project in September 2015 saw the group create music without visual cues, exploring the gift of darkness, as well as creating tactile scores for improvisation with artist Viyki Turnbull. The debut performance at the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston, North London, took place in the dark, immersing the audience in a world in which the visual was extraneous to sound.
Curiously, for someone with partial sight, I have chosen to spend more than my fair share of time voluntarily immersed in complete darkness. In 2003, I worked as a guide in Hamburg’s ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ exhibition, encouraging visitors to make use of their other senses as they walked around a garden, forest, market, took a boat ride and had a drink in a bar, all in utter darkness. I also played goalball for twenty years, diving in front of a medicine ball using just hearing to track its approach. So, why play music in the dark? Well, at its most basic level, music is sound, usually quite organised and focussed sound, so to put it another way, why would you ever need to see it?Less flippantly, the visual aspect of making music in a group is one which is often overlooked and only becomes obvious when the group is joined by one or more musicians who cannot see. I have always been interested to explore the art of improvisation and semi-structured composition and having the chance to work with five such gifted improvisers from different genres is tremendously exciting.
Kate Risdon – Flute
As the person responsible for introducing me to the recorder, my elder sister Kate has been a continuing influence and source of great musical inspiration. Our repertoire overlaps in the 18th and 20th centuries which is reflected in our programme ‘Pipelines’. After misappropriating each other’s repertoire for too long, we are now on the look-out for commissioning opportunities for something new. If you are a composer, please drop me a line via my contact page if you think this would provide an interesting opportunity.
The Cedars Music Centre
The Cedars Orchestra, based near Worcester for over twenty years was my home as a clarinettist for eight years. Merren Anthony, its founder, conductor and life force was born to teach, inspire and nurture young people through music. Every Sunday she opened her house to dozens of young people to do just this. The orchestra performed several times each term, raising thousands of pounds each year for local charities. Her infectious personality, down-to-earth humour and gentle encouragement bore thrilling results and did much to broaden this young musician’s mind and confidence. Performing Mozart’s clarinet concerto on a basset clarinet was the thrilling high point of my clarinet career, thank you Mrs. A!
Klyne Williams – Harpsichord
In her amazing music room in Totnes, Klyne immersed herself in the music of the Baroque harpsichordists and shared her passion with invited guests. She was a willing and wonderful accompanist and mentor throughout my teenage years, intrepidly lifting her harpsichord from its first-floor home, into her car and travelling as far afield as Worcester and London to give recitals. Klyne’s encouragement and generous commitment helped kindle my love for performing and presenting music.