Imogen Hancock: Reflections on Oslo

Trumpeter Imogen Hancock recounts her two months spent studying in Oslo on her RPS Julius Isserlis Scholarship.

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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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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.

There was a lot to process from the many lessons and discussions I had and 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.

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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!

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.

by Imogen Hancock – 2015 RPS Julius Isserlis Scholar

www.imogenhancock.com

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Everyday, in all that we do, we must seek to engage children in music

Glennie drums-squareAlthough people are exposed to music nowadays, are we actually really listening better? Are we communicating better? 

In September, the Royal Philharmonic Society published a report by Sarah Derbyshire, Musical Routes, which assesses the provision of musical education for young people and children in England. And it got me thinking of my own early engagement with music.

I was brought up in a farming community. There were no tape recorders, no computers, we didn’t even have a television – but we did have Scottish traditional music, and so a lot of our social entertainment, and what happened in the home, was a shared experience. Although people are exposed to music nowadays, it is often in a much more isolated way and for all the different ways that we can consume music, I do wonder, are we actually really listening better? Are we communicating better?

For me, the whole experience is of creating sound – I’d go so far as to say that musicians are ‘sound creators’, and when we can get our young people to be curious towards sound, and take the first step of linking one sound to another, low and behold they suddenly become musicians.

It is important that musicians engage with youngsters to allow them to experience the real, raw sounds and how the human hand creates them. It is entirely possible to become a musician or composer without actually playing an instrument; for example, you can orchestrate a very loud timpani roll with a very soft violin harmonic on a computer, but if you have a timpanist and a violinist right in front of you, you will, of course, realise that in reality, you will never hear that violin…Read the full article at here

Dame Evelyn Glennie

RPS Young Musicians Recital 2013

A special recital hosted by Sir Vernon and Lady Ellis offered the opportunity to hear and meet some of the outstanding young performers supported by the Royal Philharmonic Society. The beautiful drawing room of 49 Queen’s Gate Terrace provided an intimate setting for performances by the Wu Quartet, cellist Ariana Kashefi and pianist Richard Uttley, all current beneficiaries of the RPS Young Musicians Programme.

Wu QuartetAs RPS Executive Director Rosemary Johnson explained, there is no simple or clear path for a musician who is graduating from college and establishing their professional career. Acknowledging this, the RPS Young Musicians Programme provides comprehensive and tailored support to exceptional artists throughout and beyond their training. In conversation with Rosemary following a spirited performance of Mendelssohn and Janacek, members of the Wu Quartet explained how their RPS Albert and Eugenie Frost Prize is helping them to expand their development and performance opportunities. The prize enables them to travel to and from Germany, where the quartet is being mentored by Hatto Beyerle, former member of the Alban Berg Quartet and founder of the European Chamber Music Academy.

Ariana KashefiGermany is clearly the destination of the moment. 2013 RPS Julius Isserlis Scholar Ariana Kashefi will be using her grant to fund a two year Masters course at the Hanns Eisler Music Academy in Berlin. If the experiences of fellow Julius Isserlis Scholarship winner Emily Hoile are anything to go by (read her blog post here!), or indeed the career of the scholarship’s first-ever recipient Stephen Hough; studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to broaden one’s horizons. Ariana’s distinguished performance of Schumann’s Drei Fantasiestücke certainly suggested a promising future. With pianist Alison Rhind, she sensitively negotiated the dramatic mood changes so characteristic of Schumann’s music.

Richard Uttley (credit Benjamin Harte)Richard Uttley was joined by Rolf Hind, his mentor on the Philip Langridge Mentoring Scheme, to perform the piano duet Ma Mere L’Oye. Composed by Ravel in 1910, it is more familiar to many listeners as the orchestrated version which he completed the following year before expanding the work into a ballet. The rapport between Richard and Rolf, in addition to their outstanding technique and musicianship, bodes well for PULSE, the Royal Philharmonic Society’s new music and film commission for the PRS for Music Foundation’s New Music Biennial in 2014. The pair will be joined by two percussionists and two gamelan players to perform Dobrinka Tabakova’s score. With this and so many projects in the pipeline for all of these young musicians, the concert was a taste of great things to come.

Helen Pearce