Contemplating winter

Posted by Susan Tomes on 19 October 2010 under Daily Life, Musings  •  Leave a comment

lone birdIt’s getting cold… When I was out for a walk on a chilly morning this week and saw this little round creature staring into the lake, I felt I was seeing a kindred spirit.

Tuesday masterclass at RCM

Posted by Susan Tomes on 17 October 2010 under Concerts, Daily Life  •  2 Comments

On Tuesday morning, 19 October, I’m giving a masterclass in ‘the art of piano chamber music’ in the Recital Hall of the Royal College of Music in South Kensington from 10am-1pm. Tickets are free, but you have to book them via this link or by calling the RCM box office on 020 7591 4314.

I’ll be working with three piano trios from the RCM, and we’ll be exploring a movement of Beethoven’s ‘Archduke’ Trio opus 97, a couple of movements of Mendelssohn’s D minor trio, and Mozart’s C major Trio K548. The morning will focus particularly on the role of the pianist and of the piano part in this music. The RCM runs a series of masterclasses which are free to the public and well worth attending, so you’re very welcome to come along and listen on Tuesday morning if you can.

CBC ‘In concert’ interview on Sunday

Posted by Susan Tomes on 16 October 2010 under Books, Daily Life  •  Leave a comment

me at a book readingThe third and final instalment of my readings from ‘Out of Silence’ is aired tomorrow by Canadian Broadcasting’s ‘In Concert’ programme. I’ll be reading one short chapter from my book, and I’ll also be chatting with ‘In Concert’ host Bill Richardson. They’ll be playing another track from a Florestan Trio CD as well. The playlist for tomorrow’s programme is here.

The interview is broadcast at around 2pm Vancouver time on Sunday October 17. If I’ve done the sums correctly, that’s at around 10pm in the UK. You can listen online via this link.

ChamberStudio at King’s Place

Posted by Susan Tomes on 15 October 2010 under Daily Life, Musings  •  Leave a comment

I’m excited about Sunday, my first day of teaching at ChamberStudio, the new venture at King’s Place in London. ChamberStudio offers high-level coaching for post-graduate and young professional chamber groups who don’t have access to regular tuition any more. As they move into full professional life and prepare for debut concerts, they often wish they had someone to play to and seek advice from. At least, I remember that I and my colleagues did. Once you’re out of the college system, however, such advice is hard (and sometimes expensive) to come by. ChamberStudio is able to subsidise the cost of coaching sessions on Sunday afternoons.

There isn’t a fixed teaching staff; various musicians with special chamber music expertise will come and go, depending on their availability and their presence in London. In that respect it will be a bit like the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, whose constantly changing rota of visiting teachers and performers was a great thing for my group when we spent a winter there as post-grads. For younger players, a transient population of teachers might not be a good thing, but for more experienced players it can be a very stimulating arena.

Music degrees and earning power

Posted by Susan Tomes on 12 October 2010 under Daily Life, Musings  •  Leave a comment

Bemused by all the talk about university degrees and their supposed link to salaries. Lord Browne’s report seems to assume that if you go to university you will inevitably have more earning power than non-graduates in the years ahead. In the performing arts, however, I have never found that my university degree has the least influence on concert fees. No concert promoter has ever asked me whether I have a degree, no audition was ever dependent on my having a degree, and having one has never enabled me to negotiate higher wages. The same is true of all my friends who went from university into the arts – music, theatre, painting, craft work, creative writing.

I probably use the analytical skills and the historical awareness I learned in my degree course every single day, and arguably I’m a better musician because of those skills, but a degree has been irrelevant to my earning power, such as it is. For years after graduating I made barely more than I had as a student, and in the world of chamber music the financial outlook has never been rosy. For many of us in the freelance world there is no link between a degree and an income.