A Day in the Life of… Violinist Thomas Gould
són orchestra delivers first for Southampton with exciting Richter premiere
Following our fantastically well-received debut at Romsey Abbey, April sees a return to our home base, Turner Sims, with an exciting new venture: Southampton’s premiere live performance of music from pioneering British composer Max Richter, famed for his soundtrack to the recent BBC hit Taboo. And this isn’t just a Southampton premiere, either: it’s one of only two performances of Richter’s Four Seasons Recomposed in the whole of the UK this year – so make sure you catch it with us this spring!
First heard at London’s Barbican Centre in 2012, then performed at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2015, Richter’s iTunes classical chart-topping composition takes Vivaldi’s masterpiece as the starting point of a work described as ‘a startling musical transformation… drifting ambient soundscapes and monumental walls of sound’. And the són concert includes a further piece from this pioneering British composer, ‘On the Nature of Daylight’, which opens and closes the 2017 Oscar-winning film Arrival, and is also featured on the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island.
The concert offers an eclectic mix, appealing to classical music buffs and first-time concert-goers alike, as Richter is preceded in the first half by Vaughan Williams’ Five Variants of Dives & Lazarus and the passionate string colours of Barber’s ever-popular Adagio and Elgar’s Sospiri – a taster for the orchestra’s ‘Elgar Unwrapped’ event at the same venue in June.
“This concert features a powerful mix of string works which will really demonstrate the strengths of this professional orchestra,” explains Robin Browning, són’s artistic director. “And Richter’s treatment of Vivaldi’s music is not only fascinating and engaging, it also complements our commitment to promoting contemporary British music and to bringing superb live performances of newly imagined and reinterpreted works to Southampton audiences.”
We do hope you will be able to join us – and our superb soloist for Four Seasons Recomposed, violinist Thomas Gould. Leader of the world-renowned Britten Sinfonia, and one of the UK’s foremost interpreters of contemporary music, Gould has been described by The Guardian as ‘one of the new generation of classical musicians’. He shares with us his approach to concert performances – which includes an eclectic mix of tea with soya milk, Barbra Streisand belting out ‘Alfie’ and Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’. And his description of Richter’s music: ‘Edgy and epic!’
Read his one-to-one interview with Robin Browning for more inside information…
What is the day of a concert like for you?
I really look forward to concert days because I usually have the morning off to do nothing at all. A real luxury for me! I normally drive to the event which gives me the rare chance to just listen to music for sheer pleasure. Rehearsals on a concert day can be stressful so I like to take some time to myself before the performance itself. I have a bite to eat and several cups of tea with soya milk. Winding down afterwards involves more tea – and maybe something a bit stronger too!
Are there any special routines you always follow?
Not really, to be honest. I will practice and check through my markings on the score. Or, if I’m playing from memory, I’ll go through any potential pitfalls in detail.
How does performing the Richter compare with playing the Vivaldi original?
I’ve played the Vivaldi far more often so the Richter still has the excitement of the new. In terms of the actual notes the two pieces are in fact very different. The Richter needs more concentration. It takes phrases from the Vivaldi and repeats them, often with quite subtle differences, so you have to constantly make sure your fingers don’t automatically go into the default positions of the original piece.
Why would you encourage traditional classical music audiences to expand their horizons and experience Richter live?
I first performed Richter as part of the Sound Unbound Festival at London’s Barbican to a full house that included a fantastic mix of traditional classical music lovers and younger, more contemporary audience members. I can testify to the transformative effect Richter’s music had on everyone – and that many people can’t be wrong!
What three adjectives epitomise Richter’s music for you?
Edgy. Repetitive. Epic!
Imagine a contemporary composer has created a piece especially written for you. What would make it successful in your eyes?
The bottom line is that the audience has to enjoy it. They haven’t had the benefit of playing it or hearing it during hours and hours of rehearsals as the orchestra and the soloist have, so it’s really important they can get something from it on first listen.
Thomas Gould’s 60-Second Snapshot
Favourite piece of music
…to perform live
Bach’s Goldberg Variations
…as a quick encore
A movement of solo Bach
…to relax to
Barbra Streisand singing Burt Bacharach’s ‘Alfie’
…to boost your energy
‘Syro’ by electronic musician and composer Aphex Twin
…from film or TV
The soundtrack to Taxi Driver
Who inspired you to become a violinist?
My sister [violinist Clio Gould]
Have you played any other instrument?
Hammond organ, piano, percussion
What is your favourite solo instrument to listen to?
The piano, it’s the most versatile
If you could play on any stage in the world, where would you choose?
St George’s concert hall in Bristol is a gem for its acoustics
Hear Thomas Gould perform Max Richter’s Four Seasons Recomposed with són at Turner Sims, Southampton on Friday 28 April at 7:30pm.
** Students and under-18’s **
special ticket price – ONLY £9
Tickets are £9 to £24 – click here for online box office
or call 023 8059 5151
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