Hampstead Arts Festival: Misha Mullov-Abbado at South Hampstead High School

Misha Mullov-Abado and his group

Misha Mullov-Abado and his group - Credit: Archant

When you’re born with the surname Mullov-Abbado the chances are you’ll turn out to be a musician

When you’re born with the surname Mullov-Abbado the chances are you’ll turn out to be a musician; and Misha Mullov-Abbado – son of violinist Viktoria Mullova and conductor Claudio Abbado – didn’t disappoint, although his career has taken him on a different path to his parents. He plays jazz, leading his own ensemble from the double-bass. And although still in his mid-20s, he’s doing OK. He’s just been made a BBC New Generation Artist. And the ultimate accolade, he has a concert in the Festival on Thursday 16th.

Through an unconventional childhood that involved, he says, “ a lot of 5-star hotels and a lot of childcare” as he followed his mother’s concert-life around the world, there was always some element of jazz in the background. But he went on to read music at Cambridge, studying with Robin Holloway – as strait-laced composer as they come. And it was only then that Misha changed course, taking up jazz bass and forming an ensemble to play his own music - which he describes, unhelpfully, as “label-less, influenced by different cultures but showing my classical background in its harmonic language”.

So far he’s never shared a platform with his mother, who plays everything from Bach to boogie, though he says he’s “up for it”. And as Claudio Abbado died before Misha’s career took off, there will never be a father/son performance.

“In fact he never saw me play”, says Misha. “But then, he wasn’t around when I was growing up. He was much older than my mother, we didn’t meet until I was 12, and it was only at the end of his life that I got close to him.

“I remember when I was 20 going backstage after he’d been conducting in London, and realising it was the first time I’d ever seen my parents in the same room together. Which was wierd.

“Of course, I’m proud of him. I have his name. And now I’m onstage myself, I just wish he could he be here to see it”.

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Misha Mullov-Abbado performs on November 16 at 7.30pm, South Hampstead High School.