Phoebe Goddard

Musician of the Month: Phoebe Goddard

Phoebe Goddard’s London Firebird Orchestra debut performance in 2015 was with Beethoven’s 6th symphony with fellow Yehudi Menuhin School alumni, conductor Jonathan Bloxham. We find out more about the career of one of our orchestral musicians…

Can you tell us something about your musical training?

I was a student at the Yehudi Menuhin School for 11 years studying with Natasha Boyarsky and Lutsia Ibragimova. Each year I had lessons with Marina Kesselman from the Tchaikovsky institute in Moscow. Now am in my 3rd year undergraduate at the Royal College of Music studying with Radu Blidar.

How important has the London Firebird Orchestra been to you? 

I have suffered an ulnar nerve compression in my left arm that paralysed my ring and little fingers 3 years ago which ended with me needing an operation to fix it to recover to play again. So Firebird was actually my first higher profile orchestra to play with outside the college symphony and philharmonic orchestras since school when I was playing and touring with the YMS string orchestras and ensembles. Since then I have played in Snape Maltings and Royal Festival Hall with the Britten Pears young artists program.

What would you say are some of the highlights of your career to date?

Highlights have been playing with Marin Alsop, and also playing solo lunchtime concerts at St. Martins in the Fields and in the Southbank Centre. Another highlight was a very interesting couple of masterclasses with my quartet from Heinrich Schiff. 

And what about your ambitions in the world of music?

My ambition would be to become a concert master of an orchestra. But I also hope to very much continue down the chamber music route at the same time. For me music is to be shared and played with other people. I love both orchestral and chamber music which for me is more important than solo work.

Finally, perhaps you can say something about the value of the London Firebird Orchestra to younger professional musicians like yourself..

I think Firebird is a great experience for a young professional because it is a friendly atmosphere and turns out great results at its concerts. So I always feel like we have achieved something. It is always nice to work with people who all have a common goal and really want to have a great concert, which is very encouraging. Also the projects are usually very focused so it is a good experience to learn repertoire quickly and rehearse it in a professional manner. 

Rocco Smith

Musician of the Month: Rocco Smith

Rocco Smith has been involved with London Firebird Orchestra playing flute and piccolo for nearly two years. Rocco was awarded a first class bachelors degree in music from the Royal College of Music.

Firebird asked Rocco about his involvement with LFO…

When I started playing with the orchestra I played fourth flute and piccolo. Over the course of the two years since then I have played in every seat although now I principally play second flute.

Tell us about some of the other music ensembles and orchestras you involved with…

One of the most amazing things about the life of a freelancer is the variety of orchestras in which I get to work with. I regularly play with the London Philharmonic Orchestra which is always a great treat. I also enjoy playing with the Multi-Story Orchestra – quite an unusual one this as it performs in unusual spaces like a multi-story car park – and does some great educational work in schools.

Rocco Smith

Rocco Smith

So what would you say are some of the highlights of your career to date?

My first ever professional gig with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall has to be one of the most exciting. Its something you sort of dream of while studying and slogging away at your daily scales, and then it finally happens,  and all the excitement turns to a realisation that it is really happening.

Early on in my professional career I was fortunate enough to get to the Grand Final of BBC Young Musician of the Year which led to me doing some rather incredible concerts and concertos with the likes of  BBC National Orchestra of Wales and BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra to name a few. These national competitions really are incredible and opened a lot of doors for me at an important stage in my career.

Rocco Smith

Rocco Smith

Finally, perhaps you can say something about the value of the London Firebird Orchestra to younger professional musicians like yourself…

One of the main things I personally value about the London Firebird Orchestra is the opportunity to experiment and grow in confidence while making great music with other likeminded musicians. Its such a great place to push yourself and try things perhaps you wouldn’t have the confidence to do in other professional orchestra settings.

Learning new repertoire and playing with different players is also an important aspect of what Firebird can provide with a great opportunity to explore different music and work with like-minded musicians. I really love the positive drive within the players, and this is a huge part of why I love playing with the orchestra!

Michael Thrift

Conductor Focus: Michael Thrift

Our next concert marks the welcome return to the podium of Australian conductor Michael Thrift with a terrific programme of Mozart, Grieg and Beethoven. In this edition we hear more from Michael about his fast developing career as a conductor…

Firstly, tell us about your musical training and professional development to date

While piano lessons were my first formal engagement with music, my first musical experiences were as a cellist and choral scholar in Sydney. At university I decided to pursue a composition degree which I very much enjoyed, but as an aspiring conductor, the idea of spending four years learning how the orchestra worked seemed like a logical next step for me.

The most important aspect of training has often been outside of private lessons or a degree structure. It’s the kind of high-level training or mentoring that might provide small but valuable glimpses into the minds of composers, instrumentalists and other conductors.

When one watches a great conductor you can see the five or ten minutes of a rehearsal that will forever help you better manage a sound, or read a whole book for the precious few pages that colour your impression of a composer. It’s a journey of growth that I hope to be on for as long as I have the privilege of making music with other people.

And which other music ensembles and orchestras have you been involved with?

For several years I have conducted at Fulham Opera. This is a company that doesn’t shy away from big slices of the repertoire – Verdi, Wagner and the like. I’ll be returning to Ormond Opera later this year as its Music Director after a successful Madama Butterfly in 2016. This company loves working in small spaces to produce a highly visceral theatre experience.

After 10 years working with Sydney Youth Orchestra I think of it as my musical home. My last years there were spent as associate conductor of their flagship orchestra. I have wonderful memories of concerts and tours and the wonderful friendships forged within the fire of the youth orchestra experience.

Working in London always provides the enjoyable challenge of new ensembles. I am lucky enough to always be meeting new orchestras, choirs and opera companies. It’s a great way to absorb new repertoire and it always keeps one on their toes – a conductor has to always be super-prepared going into these situations.

What would you regard as some of the highlights of your career to date.

Conducting Wagner’s Parsifal last year was a massive bucket-list item that I won’t forget any time soon. It’s the kind of repertoire conductors normally have to wait a long time to conduct. It is a privilege to be allowed anywhere near that score and I feel very lucky to have conducted it.

The first time I performed in the Sydney Opera House was amazing – that was as a cellist – then I got to do it all over again as a conductor.

Michael ThriftAnd what about your future ambition in music?

I already have opera work taking me into the middle of 2018 booked including Bizet’s Carmen, Donizetti’s  Lucia di Lammermoor and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Such projects are large in scope and time-requirement and tend to be booked with large lead-time, so I then try to fit in symphony projects in between the
m as best I can.

I very much enjoy the collaborative process with good artists, so anything that allows me to do that is always a pleasure. Getting your foot in the door of a well-established company is always a challenge for a young conductor but I’m pleased with how things are proceeding with some exciting future projects – so watch this space!

Finally, tell us some of the highlights we can look forward to in your forthcoming concert with London Firebird Orchestra on 13 June.

This is a hugely accessible programme that no-one can fail to love. Even if you don’t think you know any of the music by name, you’ll know it by sound. The Mozart Overture if one of the most whimsically frenetic pieces of stage music there is, and it functions wonderfully as a concert-opener. The Grieg Piano Concerto is a cornerstone concerto of the repertoire with melodies and drama that will like run your mind well into your interval champagne.

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is a powerhouse of early romanticism, but its oft-quoted opening movement is only the beginning. Following that are three fantastic movements: a beautiful Andante that evolves its melodic content throughout the movement; a somewhat haunting yet powerful scherzo that ushers in a quiet tension towards its end, leading to…the most glorious finale you might ever hear!

Hear Michael conduct London Firebird Orchestra in CELESTIAL GRANDEUR on TUESDAY 13 JUNE


Firebird Composer of the Year 2017: Lance Chung-yiu Mok

Our 16 March concert, HEROICS AND HIJINX saw the world premiere of TWO LOVES by the 2017 winner of the Firebird Composer of the Year Competition, Lance Chung-yiu Mok. Nicholas Keyworth talks to the composer to find out more…

Firstly, tell us something about yourself and you musical development to date.

I am a master’s student in Piano Performance at the Royal College of Music, studying with Professor Andrew Ball. I was born and raised in Hong Kong, and came to London last September after completing my bachelor’s degree in Music at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Back there, I focused on Piano Performance under the tutelage of Dr Pang Jane Cheung, but my musical training has always been very diverse and, in fact, I did not settle with Performance until the last two years at the CUHK. Even after that, I constantly feel the urge to create and write my own music. Thanks to the very inspiring Prof Daniel Law and Prof Victor Chan, I decided to keep up with Composition alongside my current performing career.

What would you say are some of the Lance Chung-yiu Mokhighlights of your career to date?

Since I did not start composing seriously until the last two years, every accolade comes quite as a delightful surprise. I was awarded in 2016 The Composers and Authors Society of Hong Kong Scholarship, which made me first realise I am not simply writing mediocre stuff. Now I am very grateful to have been named this year’s Firebird Young Composer. It is a great encouragement.

My career as a pianist has brought me to some quite wonderful cities around the globe, but I still take pride from the performance of Beethoven’s Choral Fantasyat my CUHK graduation last year being my most memorable. Having so many of my friends sharing the stage with me was a way more precious moment than playing in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. Those were great experiences, but nothing like this one.


Perhaps you can tell us something about the background to Two Loves

Two Loves to me is very much about self-discovery and acceptance. The original poem by Lord Alfred Douglas was a key piece of evidence used as part of the charge of gross indecency against his lover, Oscar Wilde, which was eventually successful. After more than a century the “love that dare not speak its name”, as the poem calls it, remains a symbol of the victims of hatred and prejudice.

I came across the poem in my second year at the University. It was part of a hard time of discovery for myself, especially sexuality-wise, and the poem played an important part in taking me through all those struggles and explorations. In fact, Two Loves is exactly the depiction of such a journey. This journey is nevertheless universal in that self-discovery of any kind may not always fit into idealistic expectations and it is only by recognising them, one could be a complete person.

The first draft of the piece took shape when I studied Composition with Professor Chan at CUHK in early 2016, but since then I reworked it through the summer and finalised it by the end of last year.

What are some of the challenges facing a composer today in getting their work performed?

I think one of the greatest challenges that always dogs especially young composers is the search for an individual voice, which often implies many experimental attempts through a long period of time. This can often result in the use of new sounds and techniques that performers may not necessarily be used to, since they are so different from what musicians are traditionally trained to do. This can have the effect of putting the less adventurous players off.

Lance Chung-yiu Mok

Musical innovations could also be deterred by the fact that new works usually do not receive many repeat performances. Good complex ideas often cannot reach the audience on first hearing, but the listeners are already judging the music, or even the composer’s ability, at the premiere. Concert organisers, therefore, always have to be very brave to programme new music, and in this regard, I would like to thank the Artistic Director for his daring vision.

Finally, what about your future projects

I recently started my new compositional project on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. This will consist of groups of songs for voice, piano and obbligato instruments, so stay tuned. Having said that, I am still open for other projects, so feel free to get in touch!



Steffan Morris

Musician of the Month: Steffan Morris

Appearing for his 16 March Firebird début performance will be Welsh cellist Steffan Morris as the soloist in Haydn’s Cello Concerto No 1. Nicholas Keyworth finds out more…

Firstly, tell us something about your background and your musical Welsh roots…

I feel very lucky to have been brought up within a musical Welsh choral environment in an area which had some great teachers. I was also fortunate enough to gain a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School to study with Thomas Carroll. After School, I went to study with the legendary Heinrich Schiff in Vienna. Schiff had always been a hero of mine, a constant source of inspiration for years and an amazing teacher. I was part of a small, tight-knit class and we got to spend a lot of time working with him. 

Which do you prefer – Chamber music or orchestral playing?

I have always tried to keep a balance between different aspects of music making. Chamber Music is a huge part of my life. I currently play in the Marmen Quartet and I’m also Artistic Director of the Nidum Ensemble which is an innovative group performing works ranging from piano trios and quartets through to chamber orchestral works. 

But I also thoroughly enjoy Orchestral work and have been very fortunate to guest lead some great Orchestras including the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. I have some exiting upcoming solo Bach recitals in Wales and also concertos by Elgar and Saint-Saëns along with Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations.

And what about some of the highlights of your career so far?

Several things come to mind here: Performing this Haydn C Major Concerto on tour with Sinfonia Cymru was a real highlight for me. It was conducted by Paul Watkins who is someone I admire hugely. I also once played some solo pieces to a capacity crowd at the Albert Hall which was a little scary, although the place feels much smaller when it’s full!

As a Guest Principal Cello with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, I played Mahler 2 in the Royal Festival Hall which is my favourite Mahler Symphony. And most poignantly, I performed Vivaldi’s G Minor Concerto for two cellos with Heinrich Schiff in Wales. We had no idea at the time but this turned out to be his last ever public performance as a cellist. I fell very honoured and privileged to have played alongside him.

Turning now to Haydn’s Cello Concerto No.1, what makes it so special to you?

This is a piece I’ve loved ever since I can remember. I studied it with Schiff in Vienna and he always brought such warmth and energy to it. The Cadenza I’m playing on March 16th was written by Schiff in his customary humorous style – see if you can spot the quote from his favourite pop song!

Finally, what do you see as the value of an organisation like London Firebird?

An organisation like the London Firebird Orchestra is vital for the musical life of young professionals. It provides invaluable performing experience and learning opportunities for all involved. Familiarity with the repertoire is a key part of what we have to do and it’s fantastic to be able to do it along with like-minded people of similar age. Long may it continue!

Hear Steffan Morris perform Haydn’s Cello Concerto no 1. in C Major with the London Firebird Orchestra in HEROICS AND HIJINX on Thursday 16 March.


Conductor Focus: Nicolas Nebout

Our next concert marks the Firebird début of French conductor Nicolas Nebout in a dazzling programme of Handel, Haydn and Mozart – together with a world premiere by this year’s winner of the Firebird Young Composer of the Year. We hear more from Nicolas …

Nicolas, can you tell us a bit about your musical training and professional development to date?

I trained as a cellist for many years – although I always felt more comfortable on the podium – and graduated at the Conservatoire in Lyon. Being a cellist allowed me to watch other conductors and better understand how orchestras work, what musicians expect from the conductor, etc. After studying conducting in Lille, at the Guildhall School and the Royal Academy of Music, I decided to follow Carlos Kleiber’s advice – “orchestras will teach you all that you’re capable of learning about conducting” – and created my own opportunities with youth orchestras.

I also studied Musicology in Lyon, and it undoubtedly gave me invaluable tools to enrich my interpretations through research and analysis. Most of all, I was lucky to have met some fantastic people in my life, ranging from my nursery school teacher to my inspirational cello teacher when I was a teenager, and my music teacher in high school. Working with Benjamin Zander was also a life changing experience and I learnt a lot from him, as a musician and as a person.

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Tell us about some of the other music ensembles and orchestras you have been involved with?

I am Principal Guest Conductor of Sinfonia Tamesa in London, and I work regularly with the City of Southampton Orchestra and the London City Orchestra. I have also worked as a guest conductor with several other orchestras over the years, both in France (Paris and Lyon) and the UK (London, Manchester, Dulwich, Chelmsford, etc.).

Tell us about some of the highlights of your career to date.

I felt particularly honoured to perform Albéric Magnard’s Hymne à la Justice in 2014 on the 100th anniversary of his death. His music is performed very rarely, even in France, and I think it’s a real shame. He is sometimes referred to as the “French Bruckner”, although this is very debatable. But to me he was first and foremost a man true to his values, pro-feminist and pro-Dreyfus, while his death is worthy of a film adaptation by Quentin Tarantino!

I am also very proud to have conducted a fundraising concert in aid of UNICEF Syria Children’s Appeal a year ago at St James’s Piccadilly with the amazing Sarah Connolly and other incredible musicians. The circumstances gave Mahler and Beethoven an exceptional power and emotion, and the World Premiere of Malek Jandali’s piece Phoenix in Exile – with him sitting just feet away – was a very special moment.

Nicolas Nebout

And what about your future ambition in music?

I am an advocate of playing unknown composers and new music; the feeling of discovering something new, another language, another personality is always extremely rewarding and motivating. There are so many wonderful things out there we haven’t heard yet! This approach also means looking at scores by the great masters with a fresh eye every time. Being historically informed while being relevant to a 21st century audience is a difficult balance and surely the ultimate quest of the musician. And on a personal level, I used to say as a kid that my goal was to conduct Beethoven’s 9th with the Berlin Phil… What else?

Finally, tell us some of the highlights we can look forward to in your forthcoming début with London Firebird Orchestra.

I am very much looking forward to working with this wonderful group of musicians and our two great soloists, Steffan and Suzanne. They’ve already shown how talented they are and I know we’re all going to have a fantastic time. And so will the audience!

Handel was a regular worshipper at St George’s Hanover Square so performing his music there is particularly inspirational. Haydn’s spirited cello concerto is one of the most famous in the repertoire and it’s easy to see why: full of bravura writing for the instrument, it breaks through the limits of the Baroque concerto and is a genuine masterpiece.

As for Mozart’s Linz symphony… well you just can’t go wrong when it’s got Mozart in the name! It was composed in just four days during a visit to the Austrian town of Linz and opens the series of Mozart’s five great final symphonies. It is thematically rich, sometimes gracious and wittily elegant but also deep and dark at times. Over a century later, Gustav Mahler said “The symphony must be like the world; it must embrace everything”. Mozart in his time certainly managed to do so…

Hear Nicolas conduct London Firebird Orchestra in HEROICS AND HIJINX on Thursday 16 March.


Suzanne Fischer

Musician of the Month: Suzanne Fischer

One of the stars of the show at the next London Firebird Orchestra concert will be soprano Suzanne Fischer. Nicholas Keyworth caught up with Suzanne as she prepares to perform Mozart arias in the forthcoming concert on 12 February…

Can you tell us a bit about your musical background and how you decided to become a singer?

I grew up surrounded by music as my whole family are professional orchestral musicians. Ironically, I was desperate to be a dancer but life got in the way. Due to illness, I couldn’t take my place to train at the LABAN conservatoire. On a whim, I wrote to the University of Edinburgh’s music department and was accepted on a late entry. Here, I could pursue my musical studies with piano, cello and composition. I was also avidly into musicals and often on stage in plays, musicals and dance productions.

I spent my third year on exchange at Milan University. I loved Italy so much that I finally decided “I must be a singer”, aged 22.  After that, I decided to go to Berlin to learn German, work on my technique and figure out my path. Weird serendipitous moments often happen to me and Berlin was no exception: I bought a chair on eBay and the seller was none other than Norah Amsellem, one of the world’s top international sopranos. She took me under her wing and I became one of her first students. Nine months later I started my masters in Voice at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin where I studied with KS Prof. Quasthoff. I owe so much of my artistry and technique – and happiness – to my years in Berlin.

Suzanne Fischer (pictured by Claire Unsworth)

Suzanne Fischer (pictured by Claire Unsworth)

And what have been some of the highlights of your career to date?

One of the most enriching experiences as a young artist at the beginning of 2015 was performing opera arias with ‘Die Junge Philharmonie’ orchestra with top opera conductor, Sebastian Weigle. One-on-one time with a musical giant like him was immeasurably inspiring.

A more recent highlight has been performing as one of the soloists in Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music with Vladimir Jurowski conducting the LPO in the Festival Hall. Some of my family’s close friends are in the orchestra and it felt quite special to sing with an orchestra where my granddad had been principal clarinettist and my Dad co-principal cello!

What attracts you to the two Mozart arias you will be performing with Firebird?

I’m attracted to these roles and all of Mozart’s women because they’re all so real to me. They’re not caricatures, but you can feel that Mozart knew and deeply loved and understood the women around him. It’s like I can briefly reincarnate them when I’m lucky enough to sing them. The roles of The Countess and Fiordiligi are the ones I shall be bringing to life in the concert on 12 February.

The Countess is in a dysfunctional relationship and is being cheated on by her husband. In the story she’s actually 26 and still dares to hope that he will pay attention to her again and stop treating her so badly. That she can still find hope in this situation shows to me what a caring soul she has with a lot of love to give.

Fiordiligi is a funny paradox of being whimsical and silly, figuring out who she is and what her values are – she is in the school for lovers of course – and yet she has this incredible depth in her arias suggesting she is far from fickle.

Suzanne Fischer (photo by Nikolai Marcinowski)

Suzanne Fischer (photo by Nikolai Marcinowski)

What do you see as the value of an organisation like London Firebird to younger professional musicians today?

I think organisations like the London Firebird Orchestra do invaluable work towards the development of young professional musicians. We’re in an industry where we can only develop and build our craft through experience and by gaining confidence in performance. We should not be afraid to make mistakes and it is through trial and error we can find out how much we can risk. With an even greater volume of young musicians needing this opportunity, how do we find ensembles, orchestras, opera companies where we can tread the boards and find these things out when the old routes are perhaps not as open as they used to be?

I think it’s an exciting time to be a young musician but it’s also a difficult time as it’s not always immediately obvious where you fit in. It means there’s a new generation of people who are passionate and excited about their art form and are finding exciting ways to get performances, or becoming entrepreneurs building new companies, thinking outside of the box.

And what else do you have in the pipeline for 2017?

You know… I don’t have any specific ambition other than to be busy, to learn more and keep improving! I can only hope that people recognise that, enjoy what I offer as an artist and continue to book me for work. I’m delighted to be with English Touring Opera from February to June this year. I find it incredible how many cities we will be visiting and what an operation they undertake each season. Rehearsals start in February and I’m looking forward to getting started and meeting my new colleagues. I will be singing the combined comic roles of Lady Sapphir and Lady Ella and can’t wait to get into the G&S comedy spirit.

Hear Suzanne perform Mozart’s Come Scoglio from Cosi fan tutte and Porgi Amor from Le Nozze di Figaro in Oxford on 12 February.

George Jackson

Conductor George Jackson, Musician of the Month

George Jackson, one of London Firebird Orchestra’s conductors, talks to Nicholas Keyworth. He first conducted the orchestra in 2014, in a Vienna-style New Year concert.  Since then, he has collaborated on a number of different projects, encompassing many different styles.

I started by asking George to explain how he first got involved in music and about his professional development to date:

“I was in a band as a teenager, and came to ‘classical’ music quite late in the game. I remember seeing ‘Tosca’ around the age of 17, and joining my local youth orchestra as a violinist: that is when I caught the bug!  Although from London, I completed all of my training outside the UK: firstly in Dublin, and then in Vienna and Weimar. My professional development took place through a series of assistantship positions, principally with Yves Abel in London and New York, and later with Robert Spano at the Aspen Music Festival.”

George Jackson in action

George Jackson in action (pictured by Brian Hatton)

George then told me about some of the other ensembles and orchestras he is involved with:

“I tend to work as a guest conductor, which takes me to different places both at home and abroad.  This season, I will conduct a world premiere at Hamburg State Opera, embark on a North Italian tour with the Haydn Orchestra di Bolzano e Trento, and continue my relationship with two orchestras in Romania with whom I work annually, in Craiova and Râmnicu Vâlcea.  I also joined the music staff at Opera North for their Winter season, and will work on a recording project for Opera Rara with the Hallé Orchestra in Spring.”

So looking back over George’s career so far, I asked George to pick out some highlights:

“A big highlight was conducting an opera double bill with both composers in the room: Steven Stucky’s ‘The Classical Style’ and Christopher Theofanidis’ ‘Cows of Apollo’.  Working with the composer Kaija Saariaho was equally an unforgettable experience.  I also lead a professional development program at Greenwich’s Trinity Laban, placing students side-by-side with some of the country’s great orchestras.

Conducting Elgar’s First Symphony in collaboration with the Orchestra of WNO last year was a personal highlight, and I look forward to further concerts with the BBCSO and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under this scheme.”

I was interested to hear what really fires up his passion in music:

“I am passionate about working with living composers, and would love to be eventually responsible for a long list of commissions.  In my own schedule, I am always determined to find an equal balance between concerts and opera.  I also think cross-platform collaboration, such as live animation, is a fascinating way of reaching new audiences: I hope to be associated with projects that explore this new territory in the future.”

Finally, I asked George what he sees as the value of an orchestra like London Firebird to younger professional musicians like himself?

“The most difficult stage in any profession is the in-between bit, and music is no exception.  Navigating that gap between training and the job is a challenge, and the London Firebird Orchestra helps to smooth that transition.  A great asset of this orchestra is that they work with a variety of guest conductors, rather than just one: this focuses the attention on the players, and keeps the working environment dynamic and varied.”

“George Jackson raised the stature of the music to a rarely-encountered level, absolutely enthralling from first bar to last.”
Robert Matthew-Walker, Classical Source

Witness George’s skills as he conducts the next two 2017 concerts in Oxford and London.

Harriet Allen

Harriet Allan: Musician of the Month

Nicholas Keyworth talks to Harriet Allan, co-leader and Principal Second violin with London Firebird Orchestra.

Where did you study music?

I have a First Class Honours degree in Philosophy and was awarded a Masters in Music from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

Tell me more about your involvement with Firebird.

I first played with Firebird in 2013, and have sat co-leader and Principal Second violin. It’s very helpful, and quite luxurious, to have the opportunity to play some of the key orchestral repertoire such as that programmed by Firebird, and work with players from different circles. It’s also really interesting, can be informing and at times inspirational, to work with some of Firebird’s young resident conductors. Founder, Marc Corbett-Weaver, does an incredible job of making new opportunities for the orchestra which generates work and interesting collaborations.

Harriet Allen

What other ensembles and orchestras are you involved with?

I enjoy the freelancer’s liberty of playing in a huge variety of groups, orchestras and productions. I’ve a particular devotion to Project Instrumental – a group charting new ground in performance experience – which I run, so rarely play in!  

Harriet Allen

Tell us some of the highlights of your career to date.

There isn’t actually a standout moment – the list is, hopefully, endless and ever evolving…

Recording with Katie Melua, accompanying Imogen Heap at the Royal Albert Hall, getting the moves down for Riverdance at Thursford Christmas Spectacular, playing Orinoko Flow with Libera, premiering some brilliant young composers with Project Instrumental at the Frontiers Festival, working with cymatics and projection mapping.

I’ve also played at some amazing venues including Buckingham Palace, The House of Lords, the National Portrait Gallery, Hackney Picturehouse – let alone working with some fascinating people.

Harriet Allen

Finally, what are your future ambitions in music?

I love playing the violin, and see it as my consummate teacher in life. I find in it a microcosm of the universe! My ambition is simple: to give my best to the world and it’s people.

Photos by Kaupo Kikkas

Elliott deVivo

Meet Elliott deVivo, musician of the month

Nicholas Keyworth talks to Elliott deVivo, freelance clarinetist and bass clarinetist with London Firebird Orchestra.

How did your career in music begin?

I worked in architecture for several years only to leave it all behind to pursue a career in music as a clarinetist. I have since completed a masters in music at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. In addition to playing freelance I also teach in schools to inspire future generations.

Tell me more about your involvement with Firebird.

I started playing with London Firebird Orchestra in 2015 with a performance at the Pump Room in Bath. Over the last year I have had numerous opportunities to play both first and second clarinet. Playing with Firebird is a great opportunity to expand my experience and knowledge of the orchestral repertoire. They are a wonderful group of musicians to work with and it also provides the chance to make friends and expand my musical network.

What other ensembles and orchestras are you involved with?

My main focus has been playing and managing the Waldegrave Ensemble which is a flexible ensemble of winds, strings and piano. Over the years we have played a wide range of repertoire but a recent highlight was premiering a new wind quintet written by composer Matthew Taylor in March this year. We are looking forward to recording an album of his chamber works in 2017.

Elliott deVivo

You’ve already had several high profile opportunities this year, the main one being the creation of a studio recording for Classic FM’s charity single ‘Steadfast’.

With ‘Steadfast’ I got to work with some very talented musicians and it was surreal to drive home one day and hear the single broadcast on the radio. Another highlight was playing as guest soloist on tour with the Trinity Laban String Ensemble performing Finzi’s Five Bagatelles. I have always wanted to perform them with a string orchestra ever since I heard a recording by Robert Plane when I was younger.

I’m interested to hear about your future ambitions in music.

My ambitions are constantly changing as I am always challenging myself and creating new goals. Having now finished my Masters I am building up my freelance orchestral playing and work as a soloist and chamber musician. The Waldegrave Ensemble is also beginning to explore new territory and expand beyond the traditional recital format by combining other genres and mediums to enrich performances and find ways of keeping classical music relevant in the 21st century.

Hear Elliott play in Classical Landscapes at St Paul’s Covent Garden on Tuesday 11 October.