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Meet the Finalists – Grady

gradyWe caught up with Grady Hassan, Finalist for the 2020 ERSO Soloist of the Year competition and also our fab ERSO Brass Leader.

What is your main occupation at the moment?

Currently I am in my final year of my master’s degree at the Royal College of Music and am hoping to graduate in the summer. In addition to my studies I teach privately, peripatetically and am a freelance performer.

What are your ambitions for the future?

In the future I would love to have secured myself a professional orchestral job with some chamber music and teaching in addition. Ultimately my ambitions are to be happy and doing music is something I adore. To be able to make a living from playing the tuba would mean I’d never work a day in my life!

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

I’ve always had an affinity for the lower pitched instruments of the orchestra, having also dabbled in bassoon and cello in the past. However, I grew up in a brass dominated household so the tuba was always going to win out!

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

I chose the Vaughan Williams Tuba Concerto as it is arguably the most significant of all the tuba repertoire. Vaughan Williams completely redefined tuba playing, elevating it from purely an ensemble instrument to a solo instrument capable of virtuosity, flare and beauty. Despite being the first piece of its kind, and being written nearly 70 years ago, Vaughan Williams completely hit the nail on the head, and as such, his tuba concerto remains one of the greatest solo tuba pieces ever written.

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

Being able to perform a concerto with an orchestra is an incredibly rare opportunity, particularly as a tuba player. Having been a part of ERSO over the last year and seen what the orchestra is capable of under the baton of Chris Stark, I have no doubt that an opportunity to perform a concerto with ERSO would be a really amazing experience.

 

Meet the Finalists – Preston

Preston YeoQ: What is your main occupation at the moment?
A: I am currently a final-year Undergraduate at the Royal Academy of Music and will soon continue onto the Postgraduate course.
Q: What are your ambitions for the future?
A: My dream is to perform as a soloist and collaborator, working with inspiring musicians and sharing music with people all around the world.
Q: What made you choose to play your instrument and how old were you when you started?
A: When I was about three years old, as I was listening to my older sister practising at home, I felt inspired to pick up one of her tiny violins and join in! I started formal violin lessons soon after that and have loved being on this journey.
Q: What made you choose the concerto that you will be playing?
A: For me, there are many aspects that make Sibelius’ Violin Concerto special. I would say the most striking sense throughout is of the bittersweet tragic-heroism (perhaps somewhat autobiographical), from stark isolation to overwhelming power. I am also most compelled by the evocative characters and influences from Finnish culture and folklore woven throughout the entire fabric of the work. All this creates a journey which you can’t help but be swept along with!
Q: What do you feel you would gain from the experience of winning this competition and playing your concerto with ERSO and Chris Stark?
A: Winning the competition would mean so much more than just gaining the opportunity to perform as a soloist with orchestra; The opportunity to work on the concerto and perform it with an inspiring, imaginative conductor, coupled with dedicated and passionate musicians, fills me with excitement and joy. I look forward to sharing this powerful and thrilling experience with everyone!

Meet the Finalists – Alastair

Alastair Penman (sax)We caught up with Alastair, one of the fab four finalists for the 2020 ERSO Soloist of the Year competition.

What is your main occupation at the moment?
I split my time between performing, composing and teaching. Alongside my role as Visiting Professor of Saxophone and Electronics at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, I perform as a soloist and in chamber ensembles including the Borealis and Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartets. As a composer, I write both contemporary works and educational music, with many of my compositions being published by Saxtet Publications.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Having already begun to establish myself as a performer and composer, I want to continue to develop a varied and wide-ranging career. Whilst I have much experience of performing solo and chamber recitals, and I have performed numerous concerti with Wind Orchestras, I have only had the chance to perform in front of Symphony Orchestras on a handful of occasions; this is something I would love to do more of in the future. I will also continue to focus on my work with live electronics and will be releasing my second album in late 2020.

What made you choose to play your instrument and how old were you when you started?
I didn’t begin playing the saxophone until I was about 14. However, whilst at primary school I had started learning piano and later clarinet, on the suggestion of my older sister, who played the flute (and now plays professionally). When I moved up to secondary school, I admired the sax players in school big band; it was this that prompted me to take up the saxophone!

What made you choose the concerto that you will be playing?
Tableaux de Provence is a much loved piece among saxophonists, and is regularly performed in the composer’s own arrangement for saxophone and piano. It is much less often heard with the original orchestral accompaniment, which I feel is a real shame because the orchestration is so colourful and really adds another dimension to the piece. Since I first heard it, I have thought that Tableaux de Provence is a beautifully written piece that sits particularly well on the instrument; I actually performed the piece in both the final recital of my Master’s degree and the final of the RNCM Gold Medal Competition, but have never had the chance to perform it with orchestra!
What do you feel you would gain from the experience of winning this competition and playing your concerto with ERSO and Chris Stark?
I would revel in the opportunity to perform Tableaux de Provence with a top quality orchestra, and to work with an established and innovative conductor. Performing with ERSO and Chris Stark would give me vital concerto experience, which I hope would lead to further concerto performances in the future.

Meet the Finalists – Hugo

hugo

We caught up with Hugo Mak, one of our fab four finalists for 2020 ERSO Soloist of the Year

What is your main occupation at the moment?

I am currently a postgraduate student at the Royal Academy of Music, studying bassoon with professor Robin O’Neill. I am also on trial with the BBC Philharmonic as sub-principal bassoon.

What are your ambitions for the future?

“Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  Mark Twain.

As a passionate musician, I hope to perform in a professional orchestra full-time.

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

I played the violin before switching to the bassoon when I was 15. There was a lack of bassoons in the school’s orchestra so I picked up the school’s rusty instrument and started finding my way around the complicated keywork. I have never regretted the change as I find the bassoon much more rewarding to play!

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

For the bassoon there is not a lot of romantic repertoire, let alone concertos. This recently-discovered concerto attributed to Rossini is a lovely piece that I think deserves to be played more often.

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

Being a bassoonist we are usually hiding at the back of the orchestra, having the chance to perform as a soloist would be a wonderful opportunity!

 

It’s Alex!

alex pic
Alexander Papp

After an amazing afternoon on Sunday’s Final Workshop for the ERSO Emerging Composers’ competiton, we had a really tough choice to make in selecting a winner.  Our fab five finalists were selected from a really impressive set of candidates and the workshop showed why these five earned their places in the final.  Each composer had a totally unique approach to creating a Birthday Fanfare for Ernest Read –  but the thing that united them was talent!

After much deliberation, we are delighted to announce that talented young composition student Alexander Papp is our winner.

The TRULY fabulous five!

all finalists
Finalists Alex Papp, Sarah Cattley, Caitlin Harrison, Andreas Swerdlow and Jared Destro with Emma-Ruth Richards and conductor Chris Stark

What an afternoon we had at today’s Final Workshop for the ERSO Emerging Composers’ competiton.  Our fab five finalists were selected from a really impressive set of candidates and today showed why they earned their places in the final.  Each composer had a totally unique approach to creating a Birthday Fanfare for Ernest Read –  but the thing that united them was talent!

We were delighted to be joined by acclaimed composer Emma-Ruth Richards, who helped us to select the finalists, and whose feedback will be invaluable to the young composers.

Watch this space for news on our winner – a tough choice for ERSO to pick a winner from such an excpetional group!