Meet the ERSO Soloist of the Year Finalists – Callie


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Callie Brennan

What is your main occupation at the moment?

I am currently a second year postgraduate student at the Guildhall School, where I study with Stephanie Gonley and Ofer Falk. I am also a peripatetic violin teacher in the borough of Bexleyheath, and I freelance around the city

What made you choose to play your instrument and how old were you when you started?

As the story goes, I began asking my parents for a violin when I was 3 – they made me ask for a whole year until they finally gave in and signed me up for Suzuki lessons. That was nearly 20 years ago, and I’ve never second-guessed my 3-year old wish. I also really loved how much my practising annoyed my sister…I don’t think she minds anymore thoough!


What made you choose the concerto that you will be playing?

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Callie auditioning

The Walton violin concerto is such a gem, and so rarely played. The first time I heard it I was mesmerized, and made a promise to myself that I would someday play it with an orchestra. The piece is simultaneously romancing and haunting, the entire first movement is based on a melody that stretches up a Major 7th, which is just shy of an octave; this really gives you the feeling of grasping for understanding, but not quite reaching it. Fun fact: the second movement was apparently inspired from William Walton having been bit by a tarantula!

What do you feel you would gain from the experience of winning this competition and playing your concerto with ERSO and Peter Stark?

I’ve played a lot of chamber music in my career, but in my opinion, soloing with an orchestra is one of the most intense and rewarding forms of chamber music there is. The relationship between the solo part and the orchestra is so unique and can create an amazing atmosphere for audience and ensemble. There can be such a special interplay of interpretations and conversation between parts, especially in such a piece as this. I haven’t yet had the chance to play a concerto with an orchestra, and I think working with Peter Stark and the ERSO would be an amazing first experience; There is a lot I could learn from both conductor and ensemble. This concerto is one that is very dear to me, and I’m so excited for the opportunity to share it with the ERSO and public!

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