Double bassist Owen Nicolaou is a relatively recent recruit to the London Firebird Orchestra. We discover more about his developing musical career…
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your training to date
I started learning the double bass at school when I was 15, and I enjoyed taking part in local, county, and national youth orchestras, before auditioning to study in London.
I am currently studying the double bass at the Royal College or Music, and I am enjoying the wide variety of London’s musical life. I am trying my hand at everything I can from period performance to experimental music. So far I haven’t come across anything that I haven’t enjoyed.
2. How long have you been involved with London Firebird Orchestra?
It was only recently that I played my first concert with the Orchestra with performances of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, and Beethoven’s 6th Symphony. Since then, I’ve been part of a couple of other performances with Firebird, and have enjoyed every one immensely.
3. What other music ensembles and orchestras are you involved with?
Since beginning my studies in London, I have been playing lots of chamber music with the Temple Ensemble, including a very enjoyable tour of Southern France last Summer, where we played works by Beethoven, Schubert, Handel, and Mozart. I have also played with several interesting orchestras including the Arch Sinfonia, Silk Street Sinfonia, and London Young Sinfonia.
4. Tell us some of the highlights of your career to date
The most fun I’ve had so far was playing Schubert’s Octet in the Wigmore Hall with the Temple Ensemble. The other great thing about college has to be playing amazing works with incredible conductors. My favourite to date was Sibelius’ 5th Symphony with Nicholas Collon. As well as orchestral playing, I have been chosen to play solo repertoire in masterclasses to world renowned bass players, such as Rick Stotijn, Paul Ellison, and David Moore. I have found that I always learn a huge amount, as every teacher on the bass seems to be able to bring an entirely fresh perspective on any aspect of music.
5. And what are your future ambitions in music?
Currently I am getting a taste of everything at College and having an incredible timed time playing Opera, Jazz, Historical Performance, Contemporary… The list goes on! My hope is to play regularly in a major symphony orchestra in London, but I am far from deciding that that is my final goal.
6. Finally, what do you see as the value of an orchestra like London Firebird to younger professional musicians like yourself?
Playing with London Firebird is an excellent opportunity for students like myself to experience working with incredible soloists. I found myself learning so much about music just listening to clarinetist Matthew Hunt for example, and also working with conductors, and other orchestra members outside the conservatoire environment. I am also experiencing new music, meeting new people, and trying out new approaches to the music we are playing. I have had the time of my life playing with Firebird, and I hope I am able to continue doing so for a long time!