No results found

Waterperry web banner fxs4dz
Culture, Music, Interviews

Interview With Julian Lloyd Webber

divider
Julian

Renowned cellist, conductor, music educator and founder of the Classic FM 30 under 30 Project, Julian Lloyd Webber OBE, will be participating in a Sky Arts  special this November, filmed at LSO St Lukes. We spoke with him ahead of the broadcast to find out more.

Julian, the first thing to acknowledge is your family background is extraordinarily musical. Is your daughter Jasmine carrying on in the tradition?

Jasmine has tried instruments without much enthusiasm, but she's really taken to musical theatre – I’ve got no idea where that’s come from(!) She was in Matilda last year at school and she was outstanding. She played Trunchbull, and she frightened everyone to death. So,

she's joined a Saturday morning course and she's really loving it.

It’s great for confidence building. 

It really brought her out of herself. Obviously other kinds of music can do that, I’ve seen that all my life, you know; really seen the effect music has on young people. It can be such a positive thing in people’s lives, but I’m mortified really that it is so patchy in schools. It should be a birth right – that children have access to music. I’m patron of the Guildford County School which I believe is the only state school left now that is a specialist music school. I went there a couple of weeks ago, and I was just so impressed. The school has gone from being a ‘Good’ school to ‘Outstanding’ because music is the centre of it, and it brings all the students together. You've got Year 10 working with Year 7; it’s a wonderful thing. I first went to Junior College when was nine and nearly everyone there was from a state school and now that’s absolutely not the case. We owe it to the children to bring that back. I’ve written about it before and so have many musicians, but the government just doesn't seem to listen. 

With young people in mind, can you tell us how the Classic FM Risings Stars project came about?

It really started in lockdown because I knew of all these wonderful young musicians who had no outlet whatsoever. Suddenly their concerts were just cancelled and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I went to Classic FM with the idea that if they can’t play in concerts let’s play their recordings. I did a five-part series, each was two hours, so altogether ten hours of radio featuring these artists. Then we did a second list which came out recently.

Have you established ongoing relationships with these young musicians?

There are quite a few that I’m now very friendly with and we talk about careers. Obviously, I’m very happy to help them if I can. The main thing, really, is as musicians they need to be heard. That’s why Sky Arts came into it because it isn't just listening to recordings; it is obviously a visual thing, to see these musicians in action. It’s really exciting; it gives them a huge platform.

How do you go about selecting your 30?

The standard of playing is phenomenal: technical perfection you can just take for granted as these guys practice endlessly. When I was Principal at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, I saw the work the students put in, the hours they do without knowing they’re going to have a successful career. They do it because they love the music, and it drives them. In a way that makes it easier to choose, because you’re looking for ones with that little something else; they've all got the technique so what’s the difference? In a funny way, it makes it slightly easier to pick them.

As it’s our glamour issue, I must ask – what do you think of as the most glamourous instrument?

It’s pretty obvious what I’m going to say – the cello. It’s a glamorous and sexy feeling playing the cello; I mean it looks vaguely like the shape of a woman, doesn't it? For me that was something I enjoyed: wrapping myself around the instrument. 

And what about a career in music, is it as glamourous as we might imagine?

There are two sides of it, and this is assuming you have achieved success. There’s the glamorous side with all the nice hotels and acclaim in in a concert hall and visiting many exciting destinations, and then there’s the non-glamorous side; particularly traveling with a cello. It’s horrible because the airlines don’t want something different. Whatever you've done – paid for a seat for the cello – they still will give you hassle every single time. I advise to anyone reading this to never stand behind a cellist in the check-in queue. Then there’s the jet lag, so you arrive somewhere like Sydney, Australia and next day you'll be straight in rehearsal with a nine-hour time change and having just gone on a 17-hour flight. There’s also the slog of the practice; it never ends, you’re only as good as the last performance and you've got to put those hours in. 

And then return to Chipping Camden to recuperate. What lead you to settle there?

I moved into where we are now in 1989. I came here for the quiet, just to get six or seven hours a day uninterrupted to learn new music. I found it a huge blessing and I’ve held onto that ever since. When was a student at college I used to borrow my dad’s Mini and drive out in through the Cotswolds. I just thought this is the most beautiful part of the world and really, I still think that.

Finally, I must mention your dedication to Leyton Orient. You’re a famously loyal fan.

One of my friends – a brilliant pianist – came from Leyton and we used to drop him home on the Saturday afternoon. I was probably around 11 and I saw this crowd going down the high street. I was curious and it was their one and only season in the First Division. I used to go on Saturday afternoons, and they would always be losing, and I started to feel very sorry for them. Once you get a love that’s it; you can’t change.

And is that the same for the instrument? Are there other instruments that you have enjoyed playing? 

Well, I dallied with the trumpet for a while, but we used to live in a block of flats, and it didn’t go down to well. Cello has always been the one for me.

Julian Lloyd Webber created the 30 Under 30 Project last year in collaboration with Classic FM. This year the musicians are featured on Classic FM online and six candidates of particular merit have been invited by Sky Arts, Classic FM and Julian to appear on the Sky Arts Special Classic FM's Rising Stars to be broadcast on Saturday 20 November at 9pm on Sky Arts, Freeview Channel 11.

For more information on the musicians visit:

classicfm.com/music-news/rising-stars-30-young-musicians-2022/

julianlloydwebber.com

RECOMMENDED

nik kershaw
Fri 31 May 2024

Nik Kershaw’s debut album Human Racing came out in 1984 and saw him dominating the singles chart with tracks including Wouldn’t It Be Good, I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Dancing Girls. Swiftly followed by The Riddle, Nik spent 62 weeks in the charts and was one of the musicians to play Live Aid in July 1985.

Nell Mescal pwj9ug
Fri 31 May 2024

For the uninitiated, Nell Mescal (yes, sister of actor Paul) is an Irish singer-songwriter who hit the festival circuit hard last summer, playing (amongst others) The Great Escape, BST Hyde Park, Boardmasters and Live at Leeds. This year, she’s headed to Oxfordshire and Alex James’ Big Feastival for August bank holiday weekend. Eloise Lonsdale caught up with her to find out more about her musical style and her recently launched EP, Can I Miss it For a Minute.

Sea Girls Credit Blacksocks qoafap
Fri 31 May 2024

2024’s Truck line-up looks to be one of its best yet, balancing big names with emerging artists and beloved regulars. As an event, it has come to mark start of the summer holidays for its devoted attendees, but how about the acts? We caught up with Oli Khan, drummer in indie-rock band Sea Girls to get the bands-eye view.

Corinne Bailey Rae
Wed 1 May 2024

Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On snap-shotted the summer of 2006. Her most recent release, Black Rainbows came out 2023 and it is obvious to hear how much she is relishing the full range of her unique voice and, as I was to discover when we spoke, her extraordinarily lyrical vocabulary.