Imogen Hancock: Reflections on Oslo

One month after returning from Oslo, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on my trip. The first night that I arrived in early January, I sat in my apartment looking at the calendar on my phone and saw that it was day 1/49. I was excited to finally be in Oslo, but 7 weeks was already starting to feel like a very long time… In reality, the weeks absolutely flew by!

I was out there to study privately with a number of different teachers – primarily soloist Tine Thing Helseth, Brynjar Kolsbergsrud (Oslo Philharmonic) and Roeland Henkens (Den Norske Opera/Ballet). During my 7 week stay, I had a total of 17 trumpet lessons and found each one inspiring.

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There was a lot to process from the many lessons and discussions I had and I was given much food for thought about my future. One lesson I had was with American trumpeter and composer Tony Plog. Tony’s advice is to “follow your bliss” – to do what really inspires you and what makes you happy… “a career will usually follow!” As a new freelancer, I am enjoying taking on all sorts of opportunities, as I never know what they’ll lead to or who I’ll meet. However Tony’s motto has also made me more conscious of where I want to invest my energy.

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I found that I loved the independence and freedom of living in my own apartment. It was
about 10 minutes by bus from the centre of Oslo and I enjoyed hosting friends for dinner and exploring many parts of the city. I was fortunate enough to be given access to Oslo’s English Church (St Edmund’s) where I practised every day and also played in a couple of their services.

A recent United Nations report shows Norway as officially being the happiest place on Earth… and I can totally believe it. Oslo is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to and I didn’t come across one unfriendly Norwegian person during my entire trip. The sunrises and sunsets were picture perfect and the snowy scenes and cityscapes could have been from postcards. I didn’t learn much of the language in the end (since almost everyone there speaks impeccable English) but, being blonde, I was very often spoken to in Norwegian!

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I’m so grateful to the Royal Philharmonic Society for supporting me and my trip – both financially and personally. I originally received the Julius Isserlis Award towards studies in Germany but I ended up taking a different route and was supported by the RPS throughout. It’s been a perfect example of one door closing and a better one opening, and I couldn’t imagine a more wonderful experience than my trip to Oslo.

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by Imogen Hancock – 2015 RPS Julius Isserlis Scholar

www.imogenhancock.com

Clare Hammond on her Experience with the Philip Langridge Mentoring Scheme

Renowned tenor Philip Langridge was a staunch member and Council member of the Royal Philharmonic Society until his untimely death in March 2010. Endlessly positive and energetic, and passionate about communication through performance, he often spoke about what the RPS could do to extend its support for musicians entering the profession.

At Philip’s suggestion the Royal Philharmonic Society began discussions with the Young Classical Artists Trust (another organisation of which he was a trustee) to explore ways in which established musicians could pass on their wisdom and experience to those just starting out in the profession. The seeds of an idea for mentoring musicians were sewn and the RPS and YCAT launched the Philip Langridge Mentoring Scheme in autumn 2010.

Pianist Clare Hammond (pictured below) describes her time on the scheme…

 

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After nearly two and a half years, I have come to the end of my mentorship with French pianist Anne Queffélec which I have found fulfilling and inspiring in equal measure. I am very grateful that the Philip Langridge Mentoring Scheme exists. Most performers spend an enormous amount of time in higher education, and I was no exception. I left the Guildhall School of Music & Drama after completing a Masters and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in 2011 at the ripe old age of 26. Although I continued to have sporadic coaching with different musicians, I felt I needed the time to develop my own voice, without structured guidance. After three years flying solo, however, there were many issues, both musical and personal, that I wanted to discuss with someone who knew me well.

Fortunately, I learnt about the PLMS at exactly the right time. I had been to Anne Queffélec a couple of times for coaching by this point and I knew that she was someone I would like to work with further. She combines a thorough grasp of the practical aspects of playing with astonishing musical imagination and flair. Her performances never fail to surprise and invariably reveal unsuspected possibilities in the works that she plays.

At this point, I tended to specialise in 20th and 21st-century music and had always found repertoire by core composers more challenging. While Anne performs music by a wide range of composers, her repertoire centres on the classics. She was able to explain concepts in Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven and Chopin that I had understood objectively but had never really managed to put into practice. I am now far less tentative when playing this music and my performances are, as a result, far more engaging and communicative.

On a personal level, the mentorship came at exactly the right time. Establishing oneself as a performer after finishing at a conservatoire is extremely challenging. Anne has helped to give me the musical conviction and determination necessary to do this. I have also recently had a baby and the chance to discuss this with a female pianist who has two children of her own was invaluable.

A mentorship of this kind is of particular importance to musicians setting out on their career after formal education because it can be tailor-made to suit them. By this stage, most people have an idea of the kind of artist they want to become, and what their fields of interest might be. It is particularly helpful to have a mentor’s guidance and advice while these ideas crystallise and take form. I am extremely grateful that I had access to this kind of support which has been of immeasurable help to me at a transitional stage in both my artistic and personal life.

 

Keep up with Clare’s work on her website: http://clarehammond.com/ and find out more about the PLMS here