Conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim spoke to Ivan Hewett for today’s issue of The Telegraph. Read the full interview here.
One of my enduring memories of performing in ‘Oliver!’ last summer was the heat. When I think about my costume for ‘Consider Yourself’ (two layers of 100% pure wool, cheers JC) I think about how the heat from the stage lights made my entire body feel like it was on fire. I remember having to cut eight inches off my poor, fried hair after spending three weeks coating it in flammable hairspray, pinning it to my head and putting a wig and hat on top. By the final performance it was the texture of straw.
I have played a great many orchestral concerts in hot weather, including in Germany and New York at the height of summer. Rosin tends to get too sticky to use and you have to re-tune your instrument far more frequently than usual because everything expands and the strings slip. Since retiring from orchestral performance, my instrument is of course myself, and I’ve been thinking about how to look after it in the summer months.
Drinking plenty of water is obviously the most vital thing to protect your voice from drying out in hot weather. I suffer from seasonal allergies (aka year-round drippy nose fun) which mean that from April to September I take a daily antihistamine, which is a drug notorious for drying our your inner nasal and vocal folds. This means I also get to use Sterimar and a thing called NeilMed saline douche (?!) which was first given to me by a very lovely nurse in New York, because I couldn’t breathe through my nose in my first few weeks at camp.
Today is the hottest day of 2017 so far. Stepping outside into the garden at around 4pm felt like walking into a pizza oven. It’s now 10pm and still 26c/78f. TOO HOT.
The weather may have been terrible but overall it has been a very relaxing and enjoyable Christmas holiday. It has been great to spend time with friends old and new and I’m sad to be saying goodbye to those who have made the leap across the Irish Sea (they’ll come back one day… everyone does).
2015 was undeniably one of the most challenging years I have ever experienced, but the payoff for those challenges was enormous.
I began 2015 as an NQT at Castle Rushen High School, working as a music teacher in a two-person department. The rigorous training I received at Bristol University the year before proved to have been worth the blood and sweat, as I was able to ‘hit the ground running’ and remember most of my students’ names within the first half term (tip: this is the most effective behaviour management technique any teacher can utilise). It was a lot of fun and I wish my former pupils all the best; if you’re reading this, I’m sure I’ll see you at orchestra soon.
My experience working at French Woods Performing Arts camp in New York state over the summer was quite unlike anything I could’ve ever imagined. I hoped I’d make some new friends, meet a cute guy or two, travel a little and learn some new skills. I am forever indebted to my brilliant, eccentric, talented, magnificent and overall bonkers co-staff throughout the summer, who laughed and cried with me for thirteen weeks without so much as a sour word. It was one of the toughest challenges I have ever attempted – including my fairly brutal teacher training – but it has made me a much stronger person. For that I will always be grateful.
My post-camp travels took me on a journey, both literal and (dare I say it without sounding pathetic) spiritual. I started where I began, in New York city. I travelled to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., then on to Los Angeles where I spent an unforgettable week living the ‘Hollywood Dream’ and spending more money than I care to admit. I then met two of my co-counsellors in Chicago, a city in which I felt unusually at home and didn’t want to leave. I enjoyed the view of Boston from the plane as I flew over the Cape, despite leaving the city a day early for the sake of seeing my friends in NYC again before I flew back to the UK.
I have recently made the decision to stay resident on the Isle of Man for the foreseeable future, which is good news for those who were expecting to see me performing in the Guild and other concerts in the next twelve months. After six years of moving back and forth between the UK, US and the island, I am finally settling down to a full-time career and the opportunity to do as much singing as possible. 2015, for its virtues, was fairly unstable, and I am breathing a sigh of relief knowing that I can now refocus my mind on the things that make me most happy.
Long term, I am fully committed to building up a portfolio of songs and repertoire and working closely with other Manx musicians in order to develop broader performing skills.
I am keen to be involved in concerts for charity or otherwise, both as a soloist and as part of choral groups. As always, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blein Vie Noa! Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2016.