5 minutes with Horn soloist Katy Woolley

Friday 8 June 2018

Ahead of the final concert in the 2017/18 Classical Concert Series we take a moment with Horn Soloist Katy Woolley to find out more about her life with one of the world's best Orchestras.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Have you always wanted to be a musician and how long have you been playing?

Hello! Well I'm 29 and originally from Devon, I was a member of the Philharmonia for 7 years from 2010-2017 and am now excitedly exploring the outside musical world. I starting playing when I was about 10 and from that moment it wasn't even a case of knowing I wanted to be a musician so much as the notion of not being one, or not playing the horn would have been like living life missing a vital body part. 

How many hours a day do you normally practice?

In a perfect world when I'm really on a roll maybe 6-8 hours a day if something challenging is coming up. But on rehearsal/concert/recording/teaching days often your only practice is your 30 minute warm up, which is sad because I love practicing! It becomes quite important to be able to mentally practice, even in bars rest! 

If you have any spare time what do you like to do apart from play?

I love to go to Devon and walk in the countryside, Dartmoor is amazing! Also swimming (good for breathing practice), tennis is a new one, tending to my roses and squishing greenfly (sorry greenfly). 

Which is your favourite piece of music to perform and why?

Mahler 9! It's such a huge piece with huge forces yet every note is so personal and intimate. It's like its own whole world in a symphony and the variety of emotion you get to explore within it is vast and wonderful. Oh and the Brahms Trio which was written as a private outlet of grief after the death of his mother...the anguish in the slow movement cuts directly into your heart in some weird  innately prehistoric way (it's hard to describe!). Sorry, was I allowed 2?!

Do you have any connections with Cambridge?  Have you performed in the city before?

A couple! I performed my first solo Philharmonia engagement in King's College Chapel in 2011; playing Britten Serenade as the sun set through those glass windows...wow! I actually was offered a place at Cambridge Uni but by that point I was so determined to just practice that I forgot to revise for my exams so didn't get the grades! But things have a way of turning out for the best!

Do you have a favourite venue or City to perform in?

As this was answered pre June 24th I'm sure I will soon be saying Cambridge Corn Exchange! But for now it's the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. That and my sitting room is very comfy. 

What can people expect to see when they come to see the Philharmonia Orchestra perform?

One of the best things about the Philharmonia (which is still the most special orchestra I've ever played with) is each and every player's selfless commitment to the music or their colleagues, there's this incredible lift and soft shine to the sound in the strings and intense beauty of the wind players. Especially with Esa-Pekka Salonen in front of the orchestra, from the first note it'll be like taking off in a fighter jet then making the most elegant beautiful shapes, dancing in the air and you won't be back down ‘til probably about 3 days later!

Katy performs with the Philharmonia Orchestra on Sunday 24 June 2018 at Cambridge Corn Exchange. To find out more about the concert and to book tickets click HERE