Tell us how you started playing the violin…why do you love it as an instrument?
I became obsessed with the idea of playing the violin when I was seven years old, but it took a considerable amount of me nagging my parents for them to finally give in and find me a violin teacher. So eventually I began playing when I was eight and it totally changed my life (for the better!). I love the vocal element to the violin and we are lucky to have some of the greatest music ever written, tailor-made for our instrument.
You’ll be playing The Lark Ascending and Beethoven’s Romance No.2, two of the most popular works in the violin repertoire for providing solace. Do you have any special memories of these works?
I have two distinct memories of the first time I played both of these pieces. My first performance of The Lark Ascending was with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in the Royal Albert Hall. It sticks in my mind because playing such an ethereal and at times quiet piece in such a huge venue seemed a little daunting. The Lark had a huge playground in which to fly! I remember the silence in the Albert Hall lasting for a very long time, 6000 people all totally silent, magical!
My first performance of the Beethoven Romance was with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Orchestra and is etched into my memory because of wardrobe malfunction! About halfway through the performance the lapel on my suit jacket decided to get in the way of the bow, so for a few seconds I was playing air-violin, followed by some quite considerable effort to get the bow back onto the string — you can imagine the noise that I made when I regained contact with the string—let’s say that it sounded a bit “catty”… Oh well…
You’re an ambassador for the Royal Academy of Music as the first Émile Sauret Professor of Violin, a role that was specially created for you. What do you enjoy most about developing the next generation of string players?
I love working with young talents at my Alma Mater, we develop their technique and musicianship over the years that we work together. It means that this part of my life is particularly fulfilling as we really get to know each other and develop both the human and the musical side—they go hand in hand. Striving for musical excellence together is a great unifying force, and I have a class of determined and disciplined young violinists from all around the world who are also very supportive of each other, all on a similar journey. We feel like a team.
We’re looking forward to you joining us as we resume symphonic touring this September. What are you looking forward to most about playing with the BSO in the South West?
I can’t wait to get back to perform with BSO! Live music making has been fitful over the last 18 months and it has been easy to forget what it is to be a musician and forget the magic that happens when we perform and communicate together. I very much look forward to seeing lots of familiar and friendly faces in the Orchestra and to making beautiful music together again.
For further details of our autumn season click here
Watch Jack in action below!