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 RPS 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 describes her time on the mentoring scheme…
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.