In conversation with FRANCES O'ROURKE
JULIAN LLOYD WEBBER
is an internationally acclaimed British solo cellist who has won many awards for his services to music. Brother of Andrew Lloyd Webber, he lives in London with his wife, cellist Jiaxin Cheng, and daughter, Jasmine Orienta
I met Pam in 1988, when I was running a cello festival in London’s Southbank [arts centre]. Pam was the artists’ liaison officer – her job was to look after people at Southbank. She’d just started work about two weeks before. I got on with her very well – she’s a very bubbly, kind, helpful sort of person.
We talked about music and everything and we kept in touch. I first worked with Pam in the early 1990s, a couple of years after that. I found out what a good arranger she was and she did some arrangements of my own music. The first one we did together was a song that I wrote for my son David, a lullaby that we still play on the tour. It was on a CD called Cradle Song that came out about 1995: Pam played the piano on those arrangements and is on five or six of the tracks on that CD. We also composed a nursery suite together built around children’s tunes.
I was very very impressed with the work that she did – and she was still working full-time at the Southbank Centre, as she still is. She rose to become pretty important there – she’s the programme manager now, very senior, and when I met her, she was in the most junior possible role.
Gradually, we’ve done more and more work together, after I found out what a very fine pianist she is. She hadn’t done a lot of professional concert work and I kind of had faith in her. We were such good friends it made everything easier, and rehearsals much more fun.
I started working with Pam in full recitals comparatively recently, around seven years ago. I’ve had lots of regular pianists: first of all they must be very good pianists, I’m not very patient working with someone who I have to tell what to do all the time. We have to have an instinctive musical rapport – they’ve got to be very good players technically and have an understanding of what I’m trying to do. And it helps if you have a good relationship, get on together.
“Last year we did six concerts in Ireland in February and then 10 in November. They went really really well, and they seem to want us to come back. You don’t have to be friends when you go on tour like that, but it helps, as you’re thrown together all the time: in Pam’s case we definitely were friends before we worked together. She’s lively, bubbly, effervescent – that comes across on stage and audiences take to her.
We used to have a bossa nova band together eight years ago, and did a lot of concerts. But I don’t go for the heavy metal stuff that Pam does. Do Pam and I have interests in common apart from music? We both support quite bad football teams – I’m a Leyton Orient supporter, Pam’s from Oldham and her husband Pete supports Portsmouth.”
Julian Lloyd Webber and his piano accompanist Pam Chowhan start a tour of Ireland with a performance in the Cork Opera House, Cork, on January 31st