What is your favourite Sixteen anecdote?
Did Harry plan our Mozart Mass in C minor tour in Spain several years back especially to maximise coach journey time so he and various others could play cards?
What do you do to relax in your spare time?
I’m an avid reader – both fiction and non-fiction – useful given the amount of travelling time that comes with the job.
If you could perform in any venue, what / where would it be?
I’ve still not been to Japan – I have my first trip with another group there next year but it’s a place that has fascinated me for a long time so I’d love more opportunities to visit. I’d like to return to Reykjavik which has an amazing new hall.
Is there a piece you have fallen in love with since performing it with The Sixteen?
I already liked it but there is one particular performance of Mozart’s Mass in C minor that made me fall in love with it. The Sixteen did a tour of cathedrals in northern Spain several years ago. It was a really special project as the concerts were free so we had enormous audiences. We visited a tiny little cathedral, no bigger than a parish church. I remember Gillian Keith singing the ‘Et incarnatus est’ gloriously, the sun was setting and there was this hazy light with all the motes of dust. It just was absolute perfection.
What has been the most challenging piece of music you have ever performed?
As a period horn player we get more than our fair share of challenges. One of the top challenges in the baroque repertoire is the Bach Cantata BWV 79 – the main challenge is it just does not stop. There’s a point in it when, just as you begin to flag, Bach suddenly shifts it up a gear – elating stuff but the stamina required is demanding to the extent that you have to put your life on hold for a few weeks and only prepare for this one work.
Does anyone in The Sixteen have any annoying or unusual habits?!
Oh, no annoying habits that I can think of. One wonderful habit which always makes me happy is our principal trumpet player Bob Farley’s wardrobe. Bob is a huge thrash metal fan (at least I think that’s the right genre) and has an amazing collection of band t-shirts. He’ll probably think I’m teasing but I love his enthusiasm and individualism and also his trumpet playing!
Do you have a party trick and if so, what is it?!
I can recite the alphabet backwards if that’s of any use?
Who were you, or would you be nervous to meet?
Simon Russell Beale! He’s a hero of mine – I’ve seen him several times at the National Theatre. Sadly the horns were only needed for one day of the Sacred Music programme when we performed the Faure Requiem but I got to meet him then. I still slightly regret not gushing about how great I think he is but decided that’d be not cool. How about another series Harry? This time with more horns?
What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t a musician?
Tricky one. Whilst I was at school this wouldn’t have appealed but I reckon some sort of historian. I spend a lot of my life in dusty libraries digging out forgotten works and researching performance practice. I’d love to do a PhD sometime into one of my pet subjects and think something in this direction would have been an alternative life if I wasn’t a musician.
What would your ultimate desert island disc be?
Beethoven for sure – probably Symphony No. 7 which I just adore – though maybe No. 3.
What would you eat for your last supper?
My ultimate comfort food – macaroni cheese.
And the obligatory question…What football team do you support?!
Urgh. Sorry Harry! Not my thing at all. For what it’s worth I’ve always reckoned if you have to support a team you should be obliged to back your local team which, for me, would mean Charlton.