Principal player focus: Jonathan Morton

The start of the Music Programme 2012/13 sees a new Principal player join the London Sinfonietta.   Jonathan Morton, who is also currently Artistic Director and Leader of the Scottish Ensemble, will be taking up the position of Principal player violin 1.  Jonathan has performed with us for many years and we’re delighted to welcome him to the ensemble. We asked him a few questions to get the inside track…

Violinist Jonathan Morton

Tell us a little about yourself.  What projects have you been involved with recently?\

I recently performed at Orchestra in a Field, an outdoor festival in Glastonbury. I played in the Scrapheap Orchestra, on a violin mostly made with plastic waste pipe, nails, and a fork.  I’ve also been having fun performing Schubert’s Trout Quintet and a new quintet by Alasdair Spratt with the wonderful pianist Alasdair Beatson & the Scottish Ensemble.

What was the first recording you bought?

 Probably some cheesy Belgian pop (I grew up near Brussels).

When did you realise you wanted a career in music?

Very late actually. I’m not very good with career strategies.

Although you’ve just become a London Sinfonietta Principal player you’ve performed with us many times before.  Do you have favourite London Sinfonietta experience to date?

So many to choose from… I’d have to pick one of my first experiences with tthe London Sinfonietta, which was a recording of Oliver Knussen’s two operas Where the Wild Things Are & Higglety Pigglety Pop!. I had recently left music college, and to find myself at Abbey Road studios playing this extraordinary music under the composer’s baton was overwhelming. And I’ll never forget a performance of Louis Andriessen’s medieval metal masterpiece De Snelheid at Lincoln Centre in NYC.  (Co-incidentally, Jonathan’s first performance as Principal violin 1 will be in our upcoming BBC Proms performance, when we’ll be re-visiting De Snelheid).

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve been asked to do in a musical work?

Playing the mandolin in Hans Werner Henze’s  ‘Voices’.

What piece of music brings a smile to your face when you see it on your music stand?

Anything by Mozart.

Who or what inspires you?

The landscapes, sea and skies of Suffolk, where I have recently moved to.

And finally, name your 3 most listened to pieces of music at the moment…

I listen to music mainly in the car, where our two children have complete artistic control over what’s played. The three most requested tracks are Stick Stock by Emily Portman, Short Ride in a Fast Machine by John Adams and In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.  My latest album purchase is Ground of its own by Sam Lee. You should definitely listen to it.

Jonathan’s next performance with the London Sinfonietta will be on Tuesday 14 August at the Royal Albert Hall when we’ll be performing with the London Sinfonietta as part of the BBC Proms. Click here to find out more.
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