Thierry Fischer leads the final performance of this year’s London Sinfonietta Academy on Saturday 16 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 Platform Theatre, Central Saint Martins.
We asked Academy Clarinettist Elliot Gresty to answer some quickfire questions in the lead up to the performance.
What do you regard as your greatest artistic achievement?
That’s a really hard question. One of the most rewarding and interesting things I’ve done was a piece I played in a composition concert at school. It involved (just like New York Counterpoint by Steve Reich) recording a ten part backing track and playing live over the top of it. It took a lot of time to put together but it was really worth it when it all came together.
What do you fear?
Being bored. I’m currently studying in London which is one of the most exciting places to be. When I go home I last about half a day before I get crippling bored and just want to go back. However there are advantages, such as being fed and not having to do all my laundry so I can’t complain too much!
Which piece of music has had the biggest effect on you?
For me it would be the first movement of Mahler’s First Symphony. I remember the first time I heard it, I got sort of tingles all over, I’d never heard any music quite like it.
What’s the most unusual performance you’ve been a part of?
There was one I did recently in Hackney. The venue was supposedly a theatre, but it was much closer to a shed with concrete floor and garden chairs for seats. One of the pieces involved some screaming and banging of household objects. It was good fun.
What’s currently on your coffee table at home?
Some crumbs and a plastic bag. (They’re not mine, I live in student halls)
What was the first recording you ever bought?
I think it was Queen Greatest Hits II. When I was in primary school I used to love Queen. I remember when I was doing my very first ABRSM exams I always used to listen to them in the car on the way to the venue, sort of as a musical pep talk.
Describe yourself in three words.
Sort of alright.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I would say my first clarinet teacher. Coming from a non musical background she gave me so much invaluable support and advice. Without her I would never have had the confidence to go to music school when I was eleven.
Tell us your best musical joke.
Well, one of the funniest pieces of music for me is the last movement of Haydn’s String Quartet op 33 no 2. Haydn plays a big prank on the audience, ending the piece over and over again, each ending being separated by silence so no one has any idea when to clap. It’s really very funny.