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15 Questions to Harriet Adie

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Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I am very well and live in central London.

What’s on your schedule right now?
Pretty busy, as I have a performance of Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony and Debussy's Dance Sacre et Danse Profane coming up in the next 2 weeks. I am also due to perform Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto and have a solo recital and an oboe and harp recital coming up.

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
I would be a chef as I love cooking and eating!

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
My mother who is a professional singer and concert promoterand who has always been an incredibly hard working and entrepreneurial woman.

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

The hardest part is making myself practise, and also never knowing where the next pay cheque is going to come from. The best part is playing to an audience and being in total control of the piece you are playing and interpreting.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?

I think that the main problem lies in the lack of exposure to classical music, particularly in schools. Unless children are introduced to classical music from an early age then they are unlikely to form an interest in it therefore creating a lack of both future performers and regular audience. There is also a problem on the funding restrictions applied to classical music performance by some of the larger funding bodies - it is all very well to specify that the funding being awarded is conditional on providing lots of new or world music in a concert, but the frequent outcome of this decision means that the regular audience is put off as it is not what they want to hear. It is not that the promotion of new and less popular music should be ignored, but the audience preferences need to be taken into account far more as it is they who provide the reason for the concert in the first place.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?
There are always new ways to interpret music.By using different players and/or approaches, it is possible to create many different performances of the same work.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Someone who is dynamic and able to entertain the audience, but this should always be subordinate to the requirements of the music - being a showman is great, but this does not excuse wrong notes. I take these ideas with me when I am on stage but always keep in mind that I am here to entertain the audience who have payed to see and hear me. I usually try to talk to the audience between pieces as well, thus creating more of a rapport and giving them some background information about the music at the same time.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?

'Interpretation' means the way I believe a piece should be played. There are many factors in this: the style of playing when the piece was written and also the context in which it was composed,  the written directions in the piece, the type of piece (sonata, rondo, fantasia etc), the rhythmic and harmonic content of the music, and how it makes you as the performer feel.

True or false: It is the duty of an artist to put his personal emotions into the music he plays.
True, but it is wrong to let these take over and supercede the directions of the composer.

True or false: “Music is my first love”
Yes - I used to have great fun as a toddler banging saucepans around as my drum kit.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.
False, although they will have a more rounded appreciation of the music with some background knowledge.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?

Loads of harp related music as I think that the harp as an instrument still needs far more recognition.

What’s your favourite classical CD at the momen
Harpist Maria Luisa Rayan playing spanish Harp music.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?

I started to play the piano aged 4 (I started the harp when I was 10) and for a long time was a far more advanced pianist than harpist, but in the end I had more of an affinity for playing the harp in public (I used to get terribly nervous when playing the piano and my foot would shake when using the pedal). I am also a part time composer and consider my ability in this field to be on a par with my harp playing.

Harriet Adie

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