Suitcase to Suitcase

Just in case anyone is thinking that I lead a glamorous life let me describe it as it really is!

Last Friday I returned around lunchtime to my home in Cambridgeshire from performing with Maria Rud, Philip Sheppard and Canty at the National Museum of Scotland. We collaborated on a brand new project titled AniMotion which combined art with music.

It was a lovely sunny day in Cambridgeshire but as I waited for my instruments to be returned (they are couriered to UK and some European events nowadays), I would really have liked to get out into the sunshine and my beloved garden – but sadly no time for hobbies! Instead I emptied one suitcase and began to fill another with the items I would need for my next engagement in Poland. In go the usual items clothing and toiletries and then using every available corner of my suitcase I pack any small instruments the Filharmonia Czestochowska Orchestra may not be able to provide.

I make sure my stick case remains open until the last minute as I spend all day Saturday practicing in my studio to ensure I know the piece as well as possible.

Multitasking is also essential, so in between practicing movements in the score I also organise the laundry, vacuum, clean and make sure there is enough food left out for my cat, Sophie, while I am away.

When I am done I just have time to keep a promise to a friend who has invited me to attend an evening event organised at a local school. The children performed a series of dance routines and I am always amazed at the quality of these amateur events. It is clear to me there is immense dedication from school staff, family and volunteers to give these children the opportunity to have their moment and I am delighted to say the audience showed an enthusiastic appreciation.

Without this kind of support I am well aware many children would not have these chances to express themselves in the arts. I am deeply saddened by the short term view of successive governments as they opt to cut music from the curriculum.

I follow projects like the Astar initiative conceived by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and their conductor Peter Oundjian. The project aims to give a copy of their Astar CD to every child born in Scotland. The music is recorded by the RSNO designed for playtime, nap time and sleep time.

Whilst I am enormously proud this initiative has come from my homeland Scotland, I would really like to see every child given a copy of this CD. Music is about inclusion and in my opinion music is the greatest cohesion for societies across the world, you do not even need to know the language if you can share the love of music.

I can personally demonstrate this because I am writing my blog today from my dressing room in the home of the Huberman Festival Filharmonia Czestochowska, Poland, which I can hardly pronounce! Our conductor Adam Klocek will bring us together through the notes on the score and because we all share one common goal to perform the music to the best of our abilities, language barriers simply will not exist.

We will be performing the World Premiere of the Double Concerto for Percussion and Cello by Olga Hans in front of an audience and a TV crew so no pressure!!!

I hope all of you who read this will take a look at what is happening to your children’s music education and feel moved to approach decisions makers to ensure your children are given equal opportunity to experience the wonderful world of music in some way, shape or form.

In the meantime I will return home on Wednesday lunchtime to begin unpacking and repacking again for a speaking engagement in Dublin on Friday!

Image: Barta IV (licence: CC BY 2.0)

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