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15 Questions to Kathron Sturrock/ Fibonacci Sequence

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Pretty good –sitting at home with the fire blazing – it’s freezing here in London! – just had a very illuminating session on the construction of the Stravinsky Septet with the composer Tim Murray. Very helpful to see the complicated counterpoint from a different standpoint...

What’s on your schedule right now?
The chamber ensemble I play with, the Fibonacci Sequence – has a lot on at the moment, including a live broadcast in the UK next weekend of Stravinsky and Poulenc, after which we come to Aachen, Arhaus and Steinfurt for some chember concerts which also will go out on your radio network.

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
I love languages – I might well have landed up in journalism – possibly covering sports, my other passion!

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
As a teacher – probably the wonderful but much under-rated Swiss pianist Albert Ferber, whose gentle and helpful wisdom saw me through many a dark moment – but one defining moment which confirmed my wish to be in music was sitting in the Albert Hall in the choir stalls listening to a rehearsal of Britten’s War Requiem and being absolutely blown away by its power – thinking – THIS is what I want to do. There is one chord towards the end where everything is playing fortississimo and it was just so exciting, especially at the end of such a gripping, emotional piece – I was 16 at the time, and it just decided me.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?

The hardest part is the nerves and the stress of stage-fright and the way just keeping up with the demands of a playing career has to dominate ones life and time – has to, you can’t have a properly balanced life, the profession is too demanding...but you also need some kind of balance, keep a normal life going with family and friends...... or you stop seeing the wood for the trees    -    the best is the odd moment you know you’ve achieved your vision, maybe only for a few bars....and this for me is made doubly, trebly special when I am playing with other people and it is a shared experience.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
I don’t think so – I really don’t – I think there is a problem in that classical music is and always will be a minority interest, but the problem seems to be worse than it is if classical music in its pure form is expected to reach and inspire a large section of the population – it just doesn’t... I think things have changed with how people want to LISTEN to music and there are several interesting ventures here in London which seek to accommodate different types of audience at the same concert – the sit-down-and-listeners and the come-in-and-taste-and-move-on listeners. It’ll be interesting to see what happens. There is of course a huge problem with funding.....and we are looking here at increasing the role of the sponsor....but that is a whole new question

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?

Well, technology is changing so  fast that I think we are entering new territory, and new rules and new attitudes.........but as far as I am concerned, and that’s all I have control over – there still seem to be recording projects that are both adventurous and worthwhile and that haven’t been done to death....whether these projects can make enough money for the record companies to continue to invest in them is another matter....

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
In principle, a good live performance should have the feeling of spontaneity and creativity that takes as much from the audience as it gives – it can be a real two-way traffic – when you get that going, there is a real buzz, and anything can happen. The trouble is that taking risks needs confidence, and it’s like an athlete – if you overface yourself at any point, it’s hard to take the next jump. So it’s a matter of balance again and experience – but ideally, one should try to get into the music and concentrate entirely on this so that feelings of insecurity, or any other unsettling feelings, aren’t given a look-in. The book ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ sums this all up very well and has been my performing bible for a long time.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?
It means trying to understand what the composer means – he only has these dots and lines and a few words to put down his entire vision, so it is up to the performer to try to put over what lies behind the dots.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
As a continuation of the above answer – if one is open and honest, one’s emotions will come through anyway. I believe very strongly that since we are a vessel through which the composer’s thoughts pass, those thoughts will absorb and be trasformed by our own feelings and personalities. I do not think the music is there as a vessel for my thoughts and feelings.  But there have been some fine artists who would disagree with this outlook!

True or false: “Music is my first love”
Not altogether true – it is my equal love! Together with my family, my friends and my dogs.......but it does take first precedence in my life simply because of the demands of the profession, as I mentioned before.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
True – but only in the sense that education “gilds the lily’. Classical music appeals to people much more than they realise – in the UK there are SO many advertisements and TV shows that use classical music to sell the product – but to understand music rather than just react on one level – yes, this needs time, attention, exposure  - coupled with guidance....they have succeeded here in the UK in making art popular – just go to any art gallery and see how many people are walking around with headphones on looking at the paintings and listening to the commentary – this is cool, this is OK – but being ‘educated’ about music – how shall we go about making this cool...?

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
Definitely I would run a series of concerts with mixed listening areas – some for those to sit and listen,  some for people to come in and go out, some with  seats and tables – and I would let people bring in drinks... you can do this in the UK in the ballet and the theatre – why not in concerts? The interval is always such a rush to queue up to get a drink and then to gulp it down - ... if concerts could be more user-friendly – and I mean all kinds and types of users – they might be more appealing to more people. Also I would continue to look at establishing an earlier start time and perhaps shorter concerts – London is so huge that getting back after concerts can take ages, and there is no time to have supper after without getting very late..... I see I have answered this question in a practical way, rather than ‘artistically’ – but  that is part of running a concert series -

What’s your favourite classical CD at the moment?
Rautavaara Concerto for Birds and Orchestra. And always, always any CD by The Comedian Harmonists....i f this counts! ...and for sheer polish and rhythm and flair and performance – they are a great inspiration

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I wanted to play lots of different instrumenst like the cor anglais and the trumpet but I fitted playing the piano so that’s what I do – but I make up for it by playing in my chamber ensemble and with lots of singers  so I get my fix that way instead...... goodbye, and thanks for listening!


(with the Fibonacci Sequence)
"The Fibonacci Sequence plays Poulenc" (Fibonacci Recordings)
"Ned Rorem: Chamber Music" (Naxos)
"Rawsthorne: Chamber Music" (ASV)
"John McCabe: Chamber works" (Dutton Epoch)
(with Duncan McTier)
"Tarantella" (Black Box)
"Sonata" (Black Box)   
"Capriccio" (Black Box)

Kathron Sturrock / The Fibonacci Sequence

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