Why did you decide to become a musician?
I ran out of other options, really… no, in all seriousness, this was a really carefully considered decision. My parents are both musicians, and they discussed that decision with me in great detail. But I did decide very early: I left school to study cello at university when I was 17 years old, and was 150% on that career path from then on. Never regretted it!
What’s the best thing about being a musician?
The immense variety that comes with this profession: Firstly, playing with orchestras around the world, which still for me is the most exciting thing on the planet, then chamber music, working on commissions with composers, meeting interesting musicians, meeting people in general, reaching out to young and spiritually young audiences…. the list is endless!
What’s the one performance from your career that sticks in your mind?
I think my debut with the Berlin Philharmonic back in 2011 really marks a turning point for me personally and professionally. The preparation for this date was focussed equally on practicing the cello as well as mentally preparing with a trainer that usually prepares athletes for the olympics. I really feel lucky having gone through that process, because ever since my attitude towards performing has greatly transformed. Its an amazing journey.
Tell us about the concerts that you will be performing with the BSO, is there one in particular that will be a highlight for you?
The variety of different concert formats and activities is the highlight for me! From the most beautiful concerto by Walton to all the great outreach we have planned, from the recital to the chamber orchestra project, this is truly going to be a very special year for me with the BSO!
BSO Participate is the Orchestra’s community and education programme that spans across its region if the South West. You also work with young musicians internationally, how do you inspire them?
Talking of outreach, the BSO is a real star in reaching out to all audiences alike. For me to tap into that already rich pool of connections and to contribute with my own activities is very exciting for me.I am pretty much doing everything to share my music: I visit schools and school orchestras, where I talk about what I do, about my cello, and of course I play for them. I also hold pre-concert talks, where I introduce some of my views on the music, as well as taking questions from the audience, which is always interesting and inspiring for me. I am also very active on social media, which nowadays is a great way to interact with a young audience. So many of my young fans come to me after a concert, saying they first heard me on YouTube or Instagram. These are amazing tools today!
If you could work with one musician, who would it be and why?
Oh, so many…. Spontaneously, I would say that I love the work of Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and would love to work with him!
What work do you enjoy playing above all else?
The work that I am currently playing.
Tell us about the history of your instrument?
My cello was made in Cremona in 1694 by Andrea Guarneri, and I can trace the history of ownership back for about 150 years. Julius Klengel, who was a really famous soloist, chamber musician and teacher, played on it for some time. It also was a real delicatessen restaurant for wood worms over the centuries, which fortunately is under control now…
What are your interests outside music?
I have lots of travel time to kill, so reading, learning languages (Italian at the moment, next up: Japanese) and watching movies is what I do when I fly. Back on planet earth, I like to be outdoors, run, bike, hike, swim.
Is there one musician or conductor from the past you would have loved to have worked with and why?
I would love to work with Beethoven on his sonatas. He is my personal favorite, the giant that towers all else. My great grandfather worked with Brahms, which I am envious about, but I continue working with living composers.
Do you have any more recordings planned?
There is always something in the pipeline! Coming out next are the concertos by Dutilleux and Lutosławski, and the Piano Trios by Tchaikovsky and Babadjanian.
Do you have any superstitions before a concert?
Not really, I like to take naps before and always am a bit worried if I didn’t get around to take one. But some of my best performances have been without prior resting, so there really is no rule.
What concerts have you particularly enjoyed performing at this year?
My debut with the Vienna Philharmonic is coming up, as well as debuts with the San Francisco Symphony, so I am excited about that. Furthermore I am performing and preparing commissions, one of them with the BSO by Jonathan Leshnoff. Inspiring new works and interacting with composers is really a privilege, and each season I have around 3-5 commissions going.
Which musician do you admire the most?
The violinist Frank-Peter Zimmermann is on the top of my list. as well as my good friend and exceptional violinist Vadim Gluzman. I also really admire Miles Davis, always being on the forefront of musical innovation and freedom of expression.