How did your journey to becoming a professional musician start?
When I got distinction in my Grade 1 piano I announced that I wanted to become a concert pianist; I changed my instrument but not my plan!
What made you choose to become a professional musician?
I didn't really choose! I never ever considered doing anything else. I remember aged about 16, that it first occurred to me that I didn't actually have to go into music, that I could do something else, and I still remember feeling physically sick at the thought!
What is your most treasured possession?
Who were the most influential people in your development as a musician?
My first piano teacher was a really inspiration and constantly challenged me which I really needed as a young child. Then there were the happy years playing flute in youth orchestras and my encouraging teachers Carole Jenner-Timms and Christopher Hyde-Smith. Wissam Boustany always believed in me and gave me confidence when I doubted myself. There are many who have helped shape my outlook and ethos - not necessarily musicians or even artists. I take inspiration from many people some who I know and others who I will never meet but anyone who strives to be the best they can be and to communicate and contribute positively through their work.
What is your favourite part of performing? Some artists say it’s the preparation leading up to a performance or the rush during the performance. What’s yours?
That amazing feeling when you sense that you have reached someone....shared something wonderful and intangible . It is also the whole build-up and knowing that you have a goal is very important for my head!
The inevitable deserted island question… You’re on a deserted island with your instrument and you can only have 5 pieces of music. What are they?
Five would never be enough - so I would draw on what is in my head and make something up. The Koechlin 'Chants de Nectaire' is a wonderful collection of 96 pieces for unaccompanied flute and I haven't memorised these so I guess that would probably make it!
What is your most memorable concert experience?
There have been many beautiful moments in 'Live Music Now!' concerts - performances to those who wouldn't normally have access to classical music - where the audiences don't hold back their thoughts and feelings. Concerts when someone who hasn't spoken for years will suddenly sing or dance - where music just wakes up something and communicates. I will never forget a performance in a detention centre in Ecuador to 180 boys aged 14-18 - they were so attentive and inquisitive and I ended up spending an hour and half playing and talking and I had been really scared about how they would react to classical music.
In a concert setting, what is your definition of success?
Knowing that you have reached someone..... at the end of a concert someone once said 'Thank you , that changed my life'.
For someone of any age who is thinking of learning a musical instrument, what are some words of advice you have for them?
Little and often. The standard you reach is not important but if it makes you happy and you enjoy the journey then that is an achievement in itself.
In scary or unsure times, what keeps you going?
Knowing that I can draw on music. Sometimes this is playing for myself whether as an outlet or a challenge sometimes sharing it with others; knowing that there is something within me that will never leave, knowing that I can facilitate other people to participate in the wonder that is music!
What do you do in your everyday life (off the stage or out of the studio) that provides inspiration for your performances?
I spend time in nature in the very rural area where I live, I connect with friends and other musicians. I guess I draw on world-wide events or other peoples stories, or books and films and of course my own experiences as a mother and human being - anything that awakes an intense emotion.
What do you think needs to be done to grow classical music audiences?
I think we need to break down barriers - starting with the physical music stand, then the spoken word, then the idea that classical musicians are somehow different or aloof or untouchable. We need to get into mainstream schools and community venues and inspire young people to play music and of course this needs to be supported with funding. We need to take our music to people and not wait for them to come to us.
What are some lifelong projects that you hope to accomplish?
To take classical and folk music to a wider audience. There are so many people out there who love music but don't ever get the chance to play or hear it live.
Which composer's work do you feel you perform best and why?
I definitely have an affinity with composers who take inspiration from folk or traditional music. I have always been drawn in by the rawness of traditional music of all genres and nationalities.
What have been the biggest challenges in your career so far?
The constant rejection that musicians face in an overcrowded profession where the establishment very much paves the way.