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Cambridge live

Interview: Alison Balsom

Tuesday 29 November 2016

For the first time in its illustrious, sixty year history, Zürich Chamber Orchestra visits Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday 3 December to perform the latest concert in the 2016/17 Cambridge Classical Concert Series.

The award-winning trumpeter Alison Balsom is one of two soloists taking part. Recently named as the Corn Exchange’s Artist in Residence for 2016/17, this appearance marks her début performance in that role. 2013 Gramophone Artist of the Year and three-time winner at the Classic BRITs, she has cemented an international reputation as one of classical music’s great ambassadors. Andrew Burton spoke to her in an interview first published by our media partner Cambridge News:

ANDREW BURTON: How do you feel about becoming Cambridge Corn Exchange's Artist in Residence for 2016/17?

ALISON BALSOM: It is a great privilege to be the artist in residence this season!  It's a wonderful opportunity to show and share my passion for all the different personalities of the classical trumpet, from the classic treasures of the repertoire to more quirky programmes, that can hopefully also be musically nourishing.

What makes Hummel's Trumpet Concerto so special?

It is the closest we have to a Mozart concerto. It takes all the extraordinary and pioneering technical and musical ideas that Haydn employed in his concerto for the new 'keyed' trumpet, and moves them on a step further - longer, more virtuosic, more distant chromaticism, more flamboyant. I love it.

What is your practice routine?

A huge number of breathing exercises and a lot of physical conditioning every day, and then the treat of learning and working on repertoire at the end, but by then my lip is usually tired so it doesn't sound that good. Only on the day of a concert do I save myself for the pieces!

Do you have any Cambridge connections?

I'm from Royston, so I'm local...I started out playing in the Cambridge Youth Orchestra, the Cambridge Youth Concert Band and went to Hills Road. I recorded half of my last album at King's College Chapel, so you could say I'm pretty long term committed to Cambridge and the surrounding area!

What advice would you offer any aspiring young musicians?

Go to as many inspiring live concerts as you possibly can. You will learn so much.

What are the most important things your life in music has taught you?

Problem solving, self-discipline, courage, concentration, how to work harmoniously with other humans who are nothing like me, how to find my own voice through music, countless things that everyone can enjoy if they pick up an instrument.

Find out more about the Zurich Chamber Orchestra concert or book your tickets here.