July 10, 2017
On a balmy summer’s evening at the picturesque St Mary’s Perivale an enthusiastic audience was entertained by no fewer... Read more
February 19th 2016 – Review of the Ealing Music and Film Festival 2016, including EYO’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the English Chamber Orchestra, London Oriana Choir and LCM Chorus:
January 30th 2015 – EYO Publicity Officer Polly Manser’s interview with Tasmin Little appears in the Ealing Gazette:
January 20th 2015 – EYO Publicity Officer Polly Manser interviews celebrated violinist Tasmin Little ahead of her concert with EYO at the Ealing Music and Film Festival on February 13th 2015:
Tasmin Little OBE, the leading international concert violinist who has performed 20 times at the BBC Proms, talks about juggling her career with motherhood and about why she’s agreed to perform with Ealing Youth Orchestra. By Polly Manser.
Tasmin Little taught herself to read music in half an hour whilst off school unwell at the age of six. The daughter of an actor father and a beauty therapy mother, she was brought up in West Hampstead and boarded at the Yehudi Menuhin School where fellow pupil Nigel Kennedy pulled her hair. One of only a very few people in the world who have dared to perform live the fiendishly difficult Ligeti Violin Concerto, she has produced more than 30 albums and was made an OBE in 2012. The gregarious 49 year old lives in Ealing with her children aged 14 and 12.
She gives around 60 performances each year all over the UK and the world and so Tasmin is clearly a busy person. “Although I travel a lot for my concerts, the bulk of my preparation is done at home, so luckily I spend more time at home than away from it. I take care not to plan too many long trips. When I am at home, I spend a lot of time with my children, helping them with homework, and
playing lots of games too. We all like card games, magic tricks, going for bike rides, swimming and watching films either at home or at the cinema. I also find cooking very relaxing.”
Her daughter and son play between them the piano, flute and clarinet, which they started at Montpelier Primary School in Ealing. But although they love music, neither has ambition to follow their mother’s footsteps and go professional. “I know that music will help them in many ways during their lives, so I’m very happy about that,” she says.
Tasmin feels very strongly that not only her own children, but all children, should have access to classical music and she has worked hard to try to expand audiences beyond the middle-aged middle classes. Her passion in this area was sparked during a few hours busking incognito under a railway bridge in central London for a newspaper article in 2007. Many of those who stopped to hear her play were young people in hoodies, and she decided to do what she could to make classical music more widely accessible. The following year she launched The Naked Violin project in which she played for free in shopping malls, hospitals, schools and even prisons, and her free download of three works for violin was listened to by thousands.
So when Ealing Youth Orchestra asked Tasmin if she would perform with it – its 80 members are aged 13-19 and make up the most talented young musicians from 25 schools across West London – it didn’t take her long to agree, particularly as the venue is around the corner from her Ealing Common home. “I learn a lot when I work with young people, it’s interesting to see how they think and solve problems. I find it inspiring,” she says.
She hopes that the players too will be inspired to continue to put in the thousands of hours of practice it takes to become an expert. “I always enjoyed listening to great musicians and it was this that inspired me to keep going,” says Tasmin, who adds that playing scales, which many teenage musicians find so tedious, should also be enjoyable. “They are a way to work on sound and technique without becoming emotionally involved.” Tasmin gained a distinction in her grade eight violin exam at the age of 11, gaining 142 out of a possible 145 marks.
Tasmin loves living in Ealing, her home for more than 20 years. “It’s a great place for family life. I love all the different parks. From a work point of view, it is a quiet place to live, but marvellously handy to get to the airport and into the centre of London as well.”
If she hadn’t become a concert violinist she might have liked to have been a nurse. “Sometimes, after a concert, people come up to me and thank me for my lovely music, saying that it has helped them during a difficult time. Even though I didn’t become a nurse, I know the healing power of music and the potential it has to bring joy and comfort to those who need it.”
Tasmin Little will perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with Ealing Youth Orchestra, conducted by Leon Gee, on February 13 at St Barnabas Church, W5, as part of the Ealing Music and Film Festival. On February 6she will lead an open rehearsal and masterclass at the same venue. For more details visit http://www.eyo.org.uk or http://www.ealingmusicandfilmfestival.org
March 26th 2014: another enthusiastic review for Dark Matter Sounding:
EYO Premiere Thrills Our Reviewer
Atmosphere ‘electric’ for new piece Dark Matter Sounding
The world premiere of a much anticipated ultra-modern work set in the unknown reaches of outer space was a strange, thrilling and memorable experience for both audience and orchestra at St Barnabas Church on March 1, writes Polly Manser.
All manner of unexpected effects were used in Dark Matter Sounding, composed by Nina Whiteman and performed by Ealing Youth Orchestra, including sounds akin to whale-song produced by rubbing a bouncy ball along the skin of a bass drum, and keys clicked on woodwind instruments played without breath or tone.
The ten minute piece was predominantly without melody or pulse, and followed in the tradition of modernist composers like the early 20th century Edgard Varèse, who viewed sound as noise and music as a sequence of noises. It was, atmospheric, dry, at times intensely loud, and had a feeling of things moving about and transforming from one state to another. For half a minute the orchestra played not to a set of instructions on the score – and the score looked pretty unusual – but by ad-libbing to a graph produced by the physicist Vera Rubin who pioneered work on galaxy rotation curves in the 1920s. This included, at the request of an orchestra member, the addition of an electric guitar. In the absence of a beat, conductor Leon Gee adopted an unusual style of movement, using large sweeping gestures, as if he were master of the universe, in command of its matter.
As it began, the atmosphere was electric. Everybody was in a heightened state of anticipation, not least the anxious composer. Few people in the 200 strong audience knew what to expect, but it quickly became clear that the experience would be very different from listening to, say, a Mahler symphony, because the piece was concerned with the representation of physical concepts in sound, rather than emotion in the traditional sense. But this was an audience of parents, friends and music lovers willing to be taken on a journey of discovery, helped by an opening presentation by the composer herself in which she explained her thinking and asked the orchestra to play some musical examples. After the first minute or so of the piece you could feel people relaxing into the work, soaking it up and trying to make sense of it, and at the same time straining to glimpse the strange ways in which the instruments were being played. By the end they seemed convinced; the applause was certainly convincing.
Describing her feelings on the night, Nina Whiteman said: “Before, I was thinking have I done my job well, will the players be able to show their best, will it all come together. I was extremely pleased with how it went; I was really caught by how they threw themselves at the boldness of it; it got very loud, and they played it with conviction.“
EYO chairman Chris Brown said: “We said to the players in rehearsal, ‘this piece has never been played before, it’s been commissioned for you, and it’s yours. Don’t worry about what people will think; get behind it and trust that the performance will do the rest’. On the night they threw themselves into it and they did so with real verve and conviction, and that’s what took the audience along. The level of intensity and commitment they displayed made it a compelling experience which the audience bought into, and it achieved huge lift off. The response was genuinely warm and engaged.”
The evening continued with other modern works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi – an unusual and lushly romantic piece with a recording of birdsong over the music at one point – was followed after the interval by the challenging Suite from the film On the Waterfront by Leonard Bernstein, with solos by Joel Ashford on horn and Georgia Brown on flute. The final piece was a joyous romp for both orchestra and audience; with Arturo Marquez’s Danzon No 2, and its Latin American feel-good beat, the players let their hair down, and you couldn’t help but get swept along.
By Polly Manser
March 26, 2014
February 21st 2014: eyo’s world premiere of Dark Matter Sounding features in the Ealing Gazette:
November 2013: eyo and soloist Joel Ashford feature in The Chiswick Herald:
July 2013: eyo features in Westside magazine
31 May 2013: eyo features in our local paper:
View/download as PDF: Ealing Gazette 31 May 2013