Q&A with Tasmin Little

Tasmin Little

We caught up with Tasmin Little before her performance of Walton's Violin Concerto on Friday 28 October as part of our Sibelius Symphony Cycle, and Saturday 29 October as part of our residency at Brighton Dome, conducted by Osmo Vänskä. 

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When did you start playing the violin?

I started to play when I was 6 years old and fell ill with chicken pox! I taught myself the recorder and when I was better, I began playing the piano and violin. I love both instruments but it was the violin that felt most natural.

When did you realise you would be able to make a career out of playing the violin?

I realised almost immediately that I wanted to play the violin as a profession – in fact, I even decided I wanted to be a violin soloist and play all the amazing violin concertos that I had heard on record!

What are the best and hardest parts of being a solo violinist?

The best part is that I spend a huge part of my life involved in something I love doing. I also enjoy meeting people and travelling so I'm lucky that my career gives me both of those.

The hard bit is that it's difficult to take a break without returning to my instrument and feeling frustrated that I'm out of practice! Sometimes I envy people who can arrive home from holiday and just go straight back to the office the next morning. I always factor in an extra week without concerts as no-one would wish to hear me, post- holiday! And the only other downside is that touring is physically very demanding and my muscles never get a rest. It's really important to take care of our bodies, as musicians, otherwise you can strain a muscle quite easily.

Could you tell us a bit about your violin and its history? Any stories?

I don't know much about my violin, I'm afraid. It doesn't have an exciting history – in fact, I rescued it from a dull life in a Swiss bank vault where it had lain for 20 years ...

You’re playing Walton’s Violin Concerto with the LPO on 28 October – how would you describe the Concerto? What should the audience expect?

This concerto is a superbly exciting and romantic piece – it's incredibly virtuosic for violin, conductor and orchestra alike! Walton wrote it for Heifetz and so it's suitably demanding, technically! The first movement is quite melancholy but also very passionate. The second movement is fiery and capricious with an ethereal and haunting central section. The last movement combines march-like driving rhythms with lyrical romanticism and a very triumphant ending – Walton is so good at finishing with a bang!

Are there any particular challenges with this piece?

Really the main challenge is to keep the ensemble tight, as it can be knife-edge. If the ensemble goes or you play it too safe, you can lose the tension.

Are you looking forward to performing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä?

Of course! These concerts are a real highlight of my year!

What do you like to do besides playing the violin?

Most of my spare time is spent with my children and family and friends – I adore being with loved ones and close friends . It's very grounding, and my children keep me on my toes!

Hear Tasmin perform Walton's Violin Concerto on Friday 28 October at Royal Festival Hall. 

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JTI Friday Series

Tasmin also performs at Brighton Dome on Saturday 29 October.

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