Principal Player Focus: Joan Atherton

Joan Atherton, London Sinfonietta Principal second violin

In our second Principal Player Focus, the London Sinfonietta’s Principal second violinist Joan Atherton tells us about touring to the Arctic Circle, her most valued possession and which London Sinfonietta concert she’s most looking forward to in 2012…

What was the first recording you bought?

When I was ten I received a record token for Christmas.  I chose Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite (attracted by the pretty cover) and would spend many hours dancing to the music.

What has been your favourite London Sinfonietta experience?

It’s difficult to pick one just one because there have been numerous good ones. I particularly enjoyed a ten day tour of Norway in January 1994, when we went to many places including the Arctic Circle.  Everywhere we played the local people were so hospitable and the landscape at that time of year was breathtaking; the sky exhibiting different shades of blue and turquoise.  I enjoyed the tour so much that I chose to go back the following year with my two daughters on our annual skiing holiday.

When did you realise you wanted a career in music?

I was about twelve, but at that stage I wasn’t sure in which direction I would go.  I loved singing, playing the piano accompanying my friends and adored orchestral playing and chamber music.

Who or what inspires you?

My late father, who taught me the piano, was a great mentor.  Today, I’m inspired by my wonderful colleagues.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Meryl Streep

What is your most valued possession?

My Italian violin (Mantegatia) made in Milan in 1764.  I once accidentally left it in a restaurant in Basel and was distraught when I realised.  Fortunately, when we returned, the violin was where I’d left it.

And finally, which London Sinfonietta concert are you most looking forward to in 2012?

I’m looking forward to In Portrait: Harrison Birtwistle on Thursday 24 May at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, when we’ll perform Cortege.  We have challenging solos to play and the piece, which was written for us, has become like an old friend.  It’s also an opportunity for me to catch up with my brother David who will be conducting the rest of the concert.

Joan Atherton’s next performance with the London Sinfonietta will be in Wolfgang Rihm at 60, on Tuesday 24 January.

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