Lois Heslop

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your life. Not necessarily music-related!

I am currently a student at CYM at the Guildhall, but I am starting my degree in Chemistry at the University of Oxford in October. I am a devoted performer but also an advocate for musical outreach, which I got involved with at the Royal Philharmonic Society, where I was the RPS Music Awards Intern from January to May this year. It was so exciting to be behind the scenes awarding grants to amazing musicians and commissions to emerging composers, as well as celebrating the best in music at the RPS Music Awards, one of the most significant events in the classical music calendar. I am also pursuing conducting and composing and will continue to do so at Oxford. I am a keen ambassador and spokesperson for the wonderful instrument that is the baroque recorder, which I started playing a few years ago; it’s a majorly unappreciated instrument!

Outside music and science, I am interested in fashion and enjoy dressmaking, and I’m often found trailing round museums and galleries, attending lectures, and exploring the best that my city has to offer. I also enjoy keeping fit and practice yoga and ballet several times a week, but I’ll be spending a lot more time with the incline up to max on the treadmill in the coming days in preparation for Ben Nevis!

How did you first get into music?

My dad was a drummer in the 70s and 80s and he played me lots of music when I was little, so I grew up in a musical household. However, I was first seriously interested in classical music when at four years old I heard my future teacher, Bulgarian virtuoso, Ivo Stankov, perform at my school, where he worked. I badgered my mother for two years to let me have violin lessons until she finally relented when I was 6. It’s all history from then on!

What made you decide that music would be an important part of your life?

For me, it wasn’t a conscious decision; from a very young age music has always been associated with everything I’ve done; from the films I enjoy, to the school and university I chose. My life would be half empty without music! My room at home would certainly be boring; it’s filled with an assortment of weird and wonderful musical instruments (including an electric violin, ukulele, and melodica, among the usual suspects), and ticket stubs and programmes from concerts I’ve played in or attended. I’m so excited to be a part of Nevis and be around 40 other music nerds for 3 weeks – it’s going to be a blast.

What has been your musical highlight so far?

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be involved with the Kronos Quartet’s Fifty for the Future Project with my quartet. We received personal coaching from all four members of the Kronos Quartet on pieces they had commissioned in the last two years (fifty works – 25 by women and 25 by men – had been commissioned for the project, from composers such as Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass), and we also performed these works at the Barbican before Kronos’s concert, which was livestreamed by the Barbican on their website. David, Hank, John and Sunny had so much expertise to share and it was brilliant to hear their perspective on approaching new music, and their experience of the collaborative process of working with the composers themselves on new commissions. David Harrington, the Leader and Artistic Director, gave me great coaching on how to lead chamber music groups, and I’ve implemented his techniques into my work and going forward.

Who are your favourite composers/artists/musicians?

I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with Handel – last year I wrote an opera inspired by his oratorios and operas such as Saul and Rinaldo. I am also a great Monteverdi fan, and recently I’ve been singing and playing a lot of Monteverdi on the recorder. I love playing the Shostakovich and Mendelssohn string quartets, and recently I’ve been enjoying the Glass string quartets as well. (I’m also a massive Taylor Swift fan…)

What do you anticipate for the Nevis Ensemble?

I’m really looking forward to learning loads from the 40 amazing musicians who are a part of Nevis for this tour. I’m sure everyone will have something exciting to bring to the group. I also can’t wait to perform in the incredible venues and locations, and to get new audiences engaged in orchestral music around Scotland. I’m a bit nervous to climb Ben Nevis but I’m sure we’ll do it with a bit of grit, determination, and teamwork!