Jacqueline Shave

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The concertmaster of the Britten Sinfonia reflects on past decisions

I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to have gone to New York

When I finished studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, I won some funding to go to New York to study at the Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay. At the same time I was offered the position of concertmaster of the touring ensemble Opera 80. I was young and excited about the prospect of leading a professional orchestra and chose the job. Despite having had a great career, I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to have gone to New York. It would have been great to have experienced a new culture and different ways of doing things – and perhaps my playing would have benefitted from a year or two of tough technique lessons.

I also regret letting go of a Nicolò Gagliano violin from around 1752, which an anonymous benefactor bought for me when I was in my twenties. After playing it for a couple of years I changed it because I didn’t feel comfortable on it. I was doing a lot of chamber music at the time and felt the top register on the E string was too brilliant – I had to hold back because I felt too exposed. Now I’m more experienced I know that what the audience heard would have been totally different to what sounded under my ear. I’ve listened back to some of my old recordings and would love to have the violin now.

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