Pierre-André Valade leads the final performance of this year’s London Sinfonietta Academy on Saturday 11 July. Coached by our Principal Players over an intensive week of rehearsals, workshops and masterclasses, the best young musicians – auditioned from colleges across the world – form an ensemble for a concert at LSO St Luke’s.
We asked Principal Clarinettist Mark van de Wiel and Academy Clarinettist Fulvio Capra to answer some quickfire questions in the lead up to the performance. Take a read of their highs, their lows and their best musical joke – mentor to pupil.
THIS IS MARK VAN DE WIEL
What do you regard as your greatest artistic achievement? I hope it’s gaining a better understanding of some of the greatest works in the clarinet repertoire, such as those by Mozart and Brahms, by playing their music over many years with great conductors and colleagues and absorbing their ideas.
What is your biggest fear? That one day I won’t be able to continue all the marvelous music making and travel that I’m doing now. Inevitable for us all of course but no less frightening for that. Luckily there isn’t much time to think about it.
What’s the most unusual performance you’ve been a part of? The most special and unusual would have to be the Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time with the London Sinfonietta in the Italian Chapel on Orkney. It was built by Italian prisoners of war, which brought a poignancy to this moving music that Messiaen wrote while a prisoner himself. We played two performances one after the other, each to an audience of around 100. When we emerged after midnight, it was still light outside – and the pubs were still open!
Which piece of music has had the biggest effect on you? It’s impossible to answer that – there are so many pieces which mean a lot, and can have a powerful and different effect in various performances and circumstances. It’s the variety and unpredictability that’s special – always trying to make the next performance better.
What’s currently on your coffee table at home? Fresh flowers and some candles.
What was the first recording you ever bought? I can’t remember that, but I can remember the first recordings my father played to me. They were LPs of Franz Schubert’s 9th Symphony, Dmitri Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, and Gustav Mahler’s 1st Symphony. These pieces are still very special for me, even after playing them countless times.
If you could have any other profession, what would it be? I can’t imagine ever doing anything else, although I hope I would have brought the same commitment to whatever it was.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? There’s no one answer to this. My parents of course, who gave me all the support I needed through my studies and beyond, and also many great conductors and colleagues, whose ideas are an inspirational and ever-changing influence.
Tell us your best musical joke. I’ve thought of a number of good ones – none of which are printable here, unfortunately! But here’s one terrible one anyway. Q: What is Beethoven’s favourite fruit? A: Ba-na-na-naaaaaa!
THIS IS FULVIO CAPRA
What do you regard as your greatest artistic achievement? Performing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.
What is your biggest fear? The indifference.
What’s the most unusual performance you’ve been a part of? I once performed, as part of an ensemble, a series of famous operatic arias whilst a boy danced on stilts.
Which piece of music has had the biggest effect on you? Ein Deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms.
What’s currently on your coffee table at home? Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde on CD.
What was the first recording you ever bought? A CD with baroque concertos for oboe, performed by Heinz Holliger,
If you could have any other profession, what would it be? A pastry chef!
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? My Father.
Tell us your best musical joke. Not sure I can think of any worth printing!