No two months are the same at the London Symphony Orchestra. This month, we caught a few minutes with Clare Duckworth, LSO Sub-Principal First Violin, to find out about what March had in store for her: everything from concerts and coaching to online Art History lectures!
What LSO projects have you been involved with in March?
I've played for all of the full orchestral concerts at LSO St Luke’s – that's included recording with Thomas Adès, John Wilson plus live streams for the FTWeekend Festival and Medici TV with Sir Simon Rattle and Barbara Hannigan – and a day of workshopping new music by artists on the LSO Panufnik Composers scheme.
I've also been involved in a few different LSO Discovery projects: four online sessions of LSO Create for adults with learning disabilities, their carers and supporters, an afternoon of orchestral coaching for students at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, online special schools visits to Willow Dene primary and secondary school classes, and a discussion group about a project for older adults at Newham Hospital.
Most memorable LSO moment?
Seeing the joy amongst the LSO Create group every time we met on Zoom to talk and play music. There are always so many individual moments of fun or musical breakthrough in those sessions, and we all come away with aching faces from smiling so much for such a sustained period of time. That’s really not an exaggeration – James Maynard said it can actually make it difficult to play the trombone!
What piece did you most enjoy playing?
I’m going to be greedy and name three – I love Thomas Adès’ music so getting to know his piano concerto In Seven Days was a treat. The Porgy and Bess suite with John Wilson was really fun! Great music like that together with John’s ear for sound and style is the perfect combination. And the final movement of Ravel’s Mother Goose is one of my most favourite pieces of music, full stop.
Have you done any other non-LSO work or projects?
Recording the score for a popular Sunday evening TV series …
Any hobbies you’ve been enjoying this month?
Since last summer I’ve been following online lecture courses on Art History from the Courtauld Institute – the lecturers are superb and one particularly interesting aspect of this term has been learning about women artists in seicento Italy, many of whom have been almost entirely sidelined or written out of history but are now increasingly being researched, written about and appreciated.
When I’m not indulging my swotty side, I’m usually doing a class of some sort on the Peloton app or living vicariously by watching films about far flung places or mountain expeditions.
Any random recommendations?
And a book I’d highly recommend is Sophy Roberts’ The Lost Pianos of Siberia. It’s really evocative travel writing, interlaced with musical and cultural history as the author covers thousands of miles on a slightly bonkers mission to find a good piano for a Mongolian player. (It’s also definitely worth taking a look at the accompanying photographs and film footage by Michael Turek.)
What made you smile in March?
Carmine Lauri’s reaction to the prosecco and chocolates we got him for his 50th birthday.
And what are you most looking forward to in April?
I have to confess that the main focus of my energy is the thought that by the end of April I may be able to escape London and get into some hills but I’m nervous that I may jinx it by writing that down! Wish me luck …
Clare Duckworth studied with Richard Deakin at the Junior School of the RNCM and Mateja Marinkovic and Hugh Bean at the Royal Academy of Music. Having been lucky to receive fantastic training in the National Children’s Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and European Union Youth Orchestra, all of which she led, Clare went on to hold jobs with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the London Philharmonic (Co-Principal Second Violin) and the Royal Philharmonic (Principal First Violin) before joining the LSO as Sub-Principal First Violin in 2014.
She has coached the violin sections of the NYO, the EUYO and London’s RAM, RCM and GSMD, and served for three years as one of the LSO’s Vice Chairs. When not performing, Clare can usually be found in a book shop, art gallery or up a hill, either at home or (with a bit of luck) abroad.
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