Thursday 15 October 2015

Meet Joy Farrall

Joy has been Britten Sinfonia's Principal Clarinet since the orchestra was founded. She is also a founding member of the Haffner Wind Ensemble, with whom she has broadcast and toured widely. As a recitalist and concerto soloist Joy has appeared in all the major London concert venues, playing with such orchestras as the Philharmonia, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, City of London Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia.

In this blog post Joy discusses various highlights of her musical career so far (as well as the odd embarrassing moment), her favourite pastimes and superpower of choice.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Every concert really as I am delighted that Britten Sinfonia, which has become my musical home, has so many dates in the diary. I feel lucky to be employed to do what I do.

When are you happiest?
When I have time to reflect after a busy but exciting patch of work.
What is your greatest fear?


What is your earliest musical memory?
Listening to ice skating music whilst my parents practised their ice dance. Torville and Dean they were not, but the music was great.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Numerous colleagues who find time to give their all to their families and students despite the demands of a rigorous performing career.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Going on stage in Spain to perform a concerto and tripping on the lovely (but totally impractical, and warned against) pair of new purple shoes bought especially for the occasion.

What is your most treasured possession?
I am not really a collector of things!

What would your superpower be?
To appear and reappear through a Harry Potter style port key so as to cut out travelling to and from concerts.

If you were an animal what would you be?
A dog for the deaf and blind. A worthy job to do but plenty of lolling around with guaranteed friendship, food and affection.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Behaving like the world is about to end if I haven't got a reed to play.

What is your favourite book?
Any historical novels.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Blue cheese and biscuits and a glass of champagne.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
A jolly good cook as I am hopeless at anything other than the basics.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Back to my college days with all the knowledge I have now.

How do you relax away from the concert platform?

Seeing family and friends, playing tennis and being outdoors walking or in the garden.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Getting this far!

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Forgiveness... I can try to play better in the next concert.

In a nutshell, what is your philosophy?
Concentration and focus is the key to understanding.

Listen to Joy...

Live: Joy is appearing in Britten Sinfonia's TAKE TWO: Oliver Knussen in Focus One performance on Sunday 25 October at London's Milton Court Concert Hall. The programme is centred on the orchestra's wind players and features Berg's Chamber Concerto for piano and violin and Oliver Knussen's Requiem - Songs for Sue. Click here for more info.

On Spotify: Listen to Britten Sinfonia's 'Discover: Knussen wind players' Spotify playlist of recordings from the wind players performing in Britten Sinfonia's TAKE TWO: Oliver Knussen in Focus One programme (including Joy), and the works featured in this concert.

On the radio: Britten Sinfonia's At Lunch 1 concert from the 2014-15 season - featuring music for wind quintet - will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3 at 1pm on Friday 16 October. Tune in live or listen again online here.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Introducing Sinfonia Students

What is a Sinfonia Student?

Sinfonia Students is our one-year voluntary scheme, offering students valuable experience in arts administration. The scheme is currently open to students in Cambridge and, for the first time in 2015-16, London. Initially built from the orchestra's partnership with the University of Cambridge (as its Orchestra-in-Residence), the scheme has grown over the past two years to now work with students from Anglia Ruskin University, Guildhall School of Music & Drama and the Royal College of Music.

Through this role, Sinfonia Students gain insight into the workings of a professional chamber orchestra as they work alongside the marketing team to promote concerts to the student community via print and digital media. They also receive great rewards and build a relationship with the orchestra with free concert tickets, a full week work experience in the offices, and the opportunity to write posts, such as reviews of concerts, which are published on our blog.

A manageable commitment 

The role of Sinfonia Student is different from a typical arts internship and allows students to work alongside the marketing team throughout an entire season, gaining insight into marketing strategies and techniques as they unfold. From personal experience, it is not always easy to commit to a full-time 3-6 month internship; they can be highly competitive, and costly in travel expenses if you do not already live in the city and the organisation is only able to reimburse a certain amount.

With the Sinfonia Students scheme, we wanted to create a manageable and flexible opportunity, that students could easily commit to while still balancing their studies and free time... 

"The role of Sinfonia Student really is one of flexibility and creativity. I was keen to apply, however I was aware that any commitments I made might be too much; on the contrary, I found that the experience was completely manageable, and yet that I could get as much back as I put in, which is so useful." 
(Carl, Sinfonia Student 2014-15)

A unique opportunity

During the year, Sinfonia Students implement and help to develop marketing strategies built for their university peers and have regular contact with Britten Sinfonia's marketing team. They also develop a relationship with the organisation as they spend a week in the office working with different departments, and have gone on to make professional contacts through events such as our Composers Workshop.

"When applying for the Sinfonia Student position, I had no idea how many new doors would open from this opportunity! Meeting some of the players and conductors has enabled me to make professional connections, and the whole experience has given me skills which I can take to other music administration jobs."  
(Simone, Sinfonia Student 2014-15)

Valuable experience for future jobs

In the competitive world of arts administration jobs, experience in the industry is becoming even more crucial when applying for a first job, and this type of valuable experience is something that being a Sinfonia Student can provide. Not just looking good on a CV, the role provides the opportunity to take on real responsibility and engage with developing marketing ideas that can make a first job application really stand out.

"Being a Sinfonia Student allowed me to acquire valuable work experience. I am now more confident that I can go into a working environment after graduating with the practical skills one may not acquire by solely completing their course of study."  
(Arseniy, Sinfonia Student 2014-15) 
"Being a Sinfonia Student has been particularly helpful: it provided me with experience in several areas relating to the fields in which I wish to work, something which employers value, without being stressful or unreasonably time consuming." 
(David, Sinfonia Student 2014-15)

Great fun

With free concert tickets, opportunities to attend rehearsals and the chance to make new friends, what's not to enjoy? Our Cambridge Sinfonia Students from the 2014-15 season enjoyed their experience so much they have volunteered to mentor the 2015-16 Sinfonia Students, providing additional support and advice as they begin the role.

Applications for Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Cambridge students are open until Friday 16 October. Click here for more information about the role and how to apply.

"If you're considering a career in arts admin or marketing, then this is definitely worthwhile!" 
(Emma, Sinfonia Student 2014-15) 

"This is a student experience with a professional orchestra not to be missed!" 
(Simone, Sinfonia Student 2014-15)

Read Carl's review of At Lunch 4 here.
Read Simone's experience of the 2015 Composers Workshop here.

Karys Orman
Marketing Coordinator

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Anna Clyne on composition

In January 2016 Britten Sinfonia premiere a new work by Anna Clyne, commissioned by Britten Sinfonia and Wigmore Hall with support from the Britten-Pears Foundation, for our 10th anniversary At Lunch series. Anna is one of the composers you can support through the Musically Gifted campaign. Find out more about Anna in this blog post as she answers questions about herself and her music...

What’s your earliest musical memory?

My earliest musical memory is hearing my mother signing nursery rhymes. My first deeply moving experience of a live concert was hearing Nigel Kennedy perform Beethoven’s Violin concerto.

What do you like most about composing?
It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and collaborate with other artists, and to get lost in one’s imagination.

What inspires you?
I find inspiration in a myriad of things – it’s different for each piece – it could be a choreographer, an artist, an image, or a simple melody. I’m about to start work on a new piece for one hundred cellos, so for that piece it will be the very unique sonority, and how the lines interact, that will inspire the piece.

What advice would you give to aspiring composers?
Stick with it! A career in music takes time – it’s still very much a grass roots trajectory, building relationships with musicians, composers, conductors, artists and ensembles. Work closely with friends who are musicians to learn the intricacies of writing for those instruments, find like-minded artists, take risks in your music, and reach out to other artists that inspire you.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
When I’ve finished a day’s work of composing, I like to blast something completely different to cleanse the ears – something upbeat, and often with lyrics so that I can sing along whilst I’m closing up shop. Fitting the bill have been Lily Allen and Mae West, or if I’m after something a little calmer, I’ll call upon Nat King Cole or Nina Simone.

If you turned your iPod on now, what would be playing?
My musical appetite is all over the map, but most recently I listened to Roomful of Teeth – I’m finishing up a new piece for them and have been listening to their latest album to find inspiration in their unique sound. I’ve also been listening to vocal music by other artists/composers such as Trio Mediaeval, Clarice Assad, Purcell and Bernstein.

The last concert you saw?
Last weekend, I heard two totally different, but totally wonderful concerts – the Baltimore Symphony performing Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with soloist Olga Kern, Strauss’ Alpine Symphony and the East Coast premiere of short piece of mine, Masquerade, under the direction of Marin Alsop – followed the next day by Tree of Codes with music by Jamie XX, choreography by Wayne McGregor and visuals by Olafur Eliasson in New York.

If you hadn’t been a musician, what might have happened?
I’ve always had a wide range of interests. If music weren’t an option I would have loved to study more languages and if I had a completely different skillset, I would have loved to become an astrophysicist. 

Which musical instrument do you wish you could play, and why?
I’m a rusty cellist, but I wish I could play the fiddle well. There’s something about folk music that I’ve always loved – from Scottish tunes heard during my time at Edinburgh University to old-time music and the blues in Chicago. It would be great to be able to pick it up and play. And it’s so much more portable than a cello!

Anna's new work will be premiered during our At Lunch series in January and will feature soprano Julia Doyle. Performances take place at Norwich's St Andrew's Hall on Friday 15 January, Cambridge's West Road Concert Hall on Tuesday 19th January and London's Wigmore Hall on Wednesday 20th January. Click here for more info and to book tickets.

This Lunar Beauty by Anna Clyne has been commissioned with support from the Britten-Pears Foundation.