Last month, we welcomed our newest LSO Member, French horn player Jonathan Maloney. We took the opportunity to ask him a little bit about himself.
When did you first start playing horn, and what made you choose that instrument?
I started playing the horn at primary school thanks to free lessons from Glasgow City Council. I chose the horn as my mum had played it in college and also had a few classmates who were learning. I was never that enthusiastic about playing alone but I remember the first time playing with others – maybe eight or nine kids from my school for an assembly – and it was so much better! It was like a perfect mix of a team sport and a noisy and immersive collective puzzle. All through school I enjoyed it more and more as I played in bigger and better ensembles, and that's continued right up to the LSO!
Do you have any particular horn heroes?
Like lots of horn players, I remember the Dennis Brain Mozart and Britten Serenade recordings being the first I was really obsessed with. My teachers and peers at college provided me with motivation and ideas about the kind of playing I wanted to do. Then later, as I was starting my career, I was lucky enough to be playing with the Philharmonia, where sitting down the line from Nigel Black and Katy Woolley on Principal Horn was extremely influential. But, specifically as a low horn player, I am grateful to people like Sarah Willis and my predecessors at the LSO Jonathan Lipton and Tony Halstead who have all done an enormous amount in advancing the low register of the instrument with some of the virtuosic recordings they have put out as soloists and in ensembles.
What are you looking forward to the most in the LSO's forthcoming season?
I'm especially looking forward to The Firebird on 24 April with Xian Zhang as it's a favourite piece of mine. And I love a good trombone concerto, so hearing Peter Moore, our Principal Trombone, play a new piece by Dani Howard in the same concert will be great!
Are there any stand-out tour destinations that you're looking forward to?
We've just now finished a joint residency with the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, which was fun to do both as an outreach programme and as a fantastic place to tour thanks to the brilliant food and weather! I'm also looking forward to going to Japan and Korea in the autumn, where we'll be playing Bruckner Symphony No 7, a favourite piece of mine (and perhaps an opportunity to tussle with the Wagner tuba, our infamous doubling instrument!)
What are your thoughts on the last two years and how Covid-19 has affected musicians?
The pandemic has been such a challenge for the industry and the people that work within it and unfortunately so many have been let down by the systems we currently have in place – freelance musicians were of course amongst those worst affected. However, as I think it not only reaffirmed the passion my colleagues and I have for making music together, but it made people and organisations working in the music and arts pause and examine their roles in people's lives and ask questions like who we make music for and why. I hope that as things return to something like normality, we continue to ask these questions and act on the answers we find.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
Outside of music I am currently working on Sichuanese cooking and figuring out whether I can overcome an allergy in order to house a cat!
Header image © Richard Ion