This week is the first of our guest writers. It’s the very talented cellist Hannah Sloane. She is a recent graduate from Juilliard School of Music who has settled in London and just starting out on her career. Over to Hannah…
Recently I was asked, ‘so, what do you do?’ Its a simple question, yet, I find I can rarely give a simple answer. I usually respond with, ‘I’m a musician,’ which invariably gives way to the more clarified, ‘I play the cello,’ and then, ‘yes, I have been playing a long time,’ and, inevitably, ‘no, I don’t wish I’d take up the flute.‘ After these pleasantries are out of the way, I embark on a more or less detailed version of my activities as a freelance musician, at the end of which, if I’ve managed to convince my questioner of ‘what I do,’
I’ve entirely confused myself. I go over my answers:
I’m a cellist. That’s true! I started playing when I was 4 years old. I tolerated the practicing, but mostly enjoyed bowing at the end of a performance. I continued my studies at The Juilliard School in New York when I was 18 years old. Then, I was obsessed with practicing, but had lost the bow thrill somewhat. Now, I live in London and have struck happy medium, or so I like to tell myself. Sometimes I go back to the States to play recitals with my friends from Juilliard. I went to San Francisco in October to play Schubert and Strauss with pianist, Allegra Chapman, and will go to Massachusetts in July to play Janacek and Bartok with pianist, Jillian Zack.
I spend a lot of time playing chamber music. This June, I have a happy collision of 15 pieces of chamber music vying for rehearsal space in my diary. This is more than normal, but I’m not complaining! I’m particularly looking forward to; Beethoven eyeglasses duo at St Martin in the Fields as part of the London Chamber Collective; Mozart Divertimento at Leith Hill Place with the Perks Ensemble; Schubert Octet with Maiastra in Surrey; and every single one of the concerts at the marvelous Lewes Chamber Music Festival, run by its founder and artistic director, Beatrice Philips.
I travel quite a bit, mostly around the UK. I’ve redefined what I consider traveling since leaving New York, where everything in Manhattan is 15 minutes away. This year, I found it was easier to get to Aldeburgh than it was to get to zone 3 in north west London. The most memorable journey I’ve made was to play a concert in Maidenhead which took no less than 5 hours roundtrip. Having said that, I do find the vast sprawling mass of London exciting to explore. My housemate and I drove to a warehouse in Bethnal Green to play a concert in the autumn, only to bump into a film crew who redirected us to a midwork building site to find parking.
I play in orchestras. London is so vibrant when it comes to this. I’ve played a few times with the London Chamber Orchestra. Playing Beethoven 8 for the first time with them was an unforgettable experience. At Easter, I went to Snape Maltings to play with the Britten Pears Orchestra, on a Mozart cleanse. We played almost everything that Mozart wrote in the year 1789. The Multistory orchestra, run by Chris Stark and Kate Whitely, creates truly unusual and wonderful projects, which I’ve enjoyed being a part of. In a week’s time, the orchestra will be playing Britten, Adams, Mozart and Sibelius for 1000 school children in 10 different schools in Southwark. (I can’t join them this summer, but they also play terrific concerts in July in a car park in Peckham.)
I teach. I have a few private students, as well as teaching at Alleyn’s School in Dulwich. It’s so much fun. I haven’t told them this, but I think I learn more from my students than they do from me. Around Christmas time, I helped two adult students prepare for a duet concert that they had coming up. Their passion and dedication to music was so inspiring.
! By the time I’ve recapped these statements, I’m feeling like I’ve given a pretty good answer. I’m on the cusp of asking, ‘what do you do?’ when my questioner usually cuts in with, ‘so, what next?’ Phrases like; ‘No idea,’ ‘We’ll see,’ ‘Maybe I’ll become an astronaut,’ all cross my mind. I usually opt for the truth, ‘I can’t quite remember, I don’t have my diary on me.’
If you wish to contact Hannah regarding bookings for playing or teaching, she can be contacted by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org