Mozart, opera and jazz in store at Proms at St Jude's.
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The Proms at St Jude's gets underway on June 26 with nine days of music, talks and walks in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Muswell Hill violinist Thomas Gould, who plays with the Fantasia Orchestra at the last night on July 4, answered our questions.
Q How have the lockdowns been for you?
A I’m lucky I’ve had regular work compared with most freelance musicians recording music for film and TV. I’ve also become more involved with a charity I’m a patron of, Awards for Young Musicians, giving regular online teaching. I recorded an episode of Radio 3’s Inside Music, and my piano playing has received a boost, with many happy hours practising the Jacob Collier songbook I got myself for Christmas.
Q How does it feel to be back in front of audiences?
A Playing to live audiences again feels like balm for the soul, but I feel terribly despondent about the future for us classical musicians. The double blow of COVID and Brexit has sounded the death knell to the vibrant, itinerant careers that were possible until recently. For the first time in my career I have no foreign gigs in my diary, and only today I had six days of work cancelled in July. I feel desperately sorry for young musicians who will never have the experiences of touring that those my age have.
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Q What will you be playing at Proms?
A An arrangement of Monti’s Czardas made especially for this concert and Mozart's 5th violin concerto in A major where the challenge is finding that balance between achieving the music’s crystalline perfection but not making it sound like a museum piece. It's one of Mozart’s sunniest and most joyous pieces and has the Turkish flavoured episode in the Rondo finale which lends its nickname “Turkish”.
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Q Is there a piece that you always look forward to playing?
A The concerto that gives me the greatest pleasure is the Beethoven (violin concerto), for its emotional depth and sublime slow movement. I love playing The Four Seasons too - it’s such fun to try to put Vivaldi’s vivid written descriptions into sound.
Q You play other music styles including recording with Radiohead?
A I’ve played on many pop albums over the years, and also played jazz violin to a high level. I got into jazz through being a 3rd study percussionist at the Junior Academy. Funnily enough I’m doing a project at the moment which requires me to play brake drum and triangle in a piece by David Laing, so that early percussion training was a blessing!
Q What do you listen to after a hard day's rehearsal?
A Either none, or Pat Metheny.
Q Your older sister inspired you to become a musician, is there enough equality of access for the next generation of violinists?
A There’s definitely not enough equality or diversity yet in many aspects of classical music but a lot of great minds are working on getting there and the industry has massively woken up to the need to fix this issue urgently.