Heaven and hell: an audience with the women of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival
From listening to Debussy to drowning, five performers from the recent Bantry festival share their ideas of life’s highs and lows
And your musical hell?
What a question! Working with people who are really not on your wavelength, where you’re not given space to be yourself. I think that’s my idea of musical hell.
What’s your non-musical heaven? Bantry Bay. It was yesterday, my day off, going to Ilnacullin [Garnish Island] on a beautiful, sunny day, no rain, no mist, on the little ferry out to the island, past little seal pups basking on a rock, and just walking around those lovely gardens. This was really a non-musical heaven, this island – somebody had this idea of creating a tropical island off the west coast of Cork. It’s fantastic. It works. It’s incredibly peaceful and tropical and safe, somehow. Beautiful. Otherworldly.
And your non-musical hell? Could be being stuck on a Tube in London in rush-hour with terrible heat and smog and stress. The worst aspects of city life, probably.
What has been your experience with cancellations? I can’t really remember when I last had a problem with cancellations. But I remember having a near-problem, which was four days at Heathrow Airport trying to get to Russia for a concert in the middle of winter. I was flying with a Russian airline and they were absolutely adamant that they could fly, so they kept us waiting till the very end. “This is only a very little bit of snow,” they said. Of course we couldn’t fly. At the last minute we had to leave the plane. Heathrow was total chaos, nobody telling you anything. Next flight out was four days later. We didn’t cancel the concert, but we cancelled the rehearsals. So I literally arrived and did the concert.
What’s your idea of musical heaven?
Oh, wow. I think I’m probably not that far away from living it at the moment. I’ve a little bit of everything, I suppose. Not only does it broaden your own horizons as a musician, but it keeps life diverse and interesting. Every time you move from one thing to the next, you appreciate the value of what you’re moving to and coming from.
And your musical hell?
I love performing contemporary music. I love learning a new world and getting to know new composers and their language. The first time you see a contemporary score, particularly if it’s one that requires a key or an extra book of information, or something that has to tie in with a tape part, or something even more unusual, is absolutely hell. You just look at it and think, Where do I start? How am I going to do this?