We are delighted to be welcoming Tom Poster back to Wiltshire Music Centre for our new season for the opening concert. We spoke to Tom about his upcoming Residency, concert and what inspired him to get into music...
What inspired you to get into music?
From a very early age, I was completely fascinated by any music I heard - some of my earliest listening obsessions were the soundtrack to the film Amadeus and David Munrow playing crumhorns. I'm not from a family of musicians, but my parents realised there was something a bit unusual about me and sought out opportunities for me to explore my passion. I played various different instruments and composed throughout my childhood, but during my teenage years, it became clear that the piano was my most direct musical voice.
What do you hope to bring to your Artist Residency here at Wiltshire Music Centre?
I've always had a passion for bringing wonderful musicians together and devising programmes which can be a real journey for the audience, combining familiar masterpieces with music which deserves to be better known. I founded the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective with these ideas in mind, along with an ardent wish to celebrate diversity, and I'm delighted to be bringing some of my favourite colleagues and friends along with me to this wonderful venue where I have always loved performing.
Who would be included in your dream collaboration?
Mozart, Ginette Neveu, Ella Fitzgerald and Pavarotti, among others. I realise this is quite unlikely to happen.
Who inspires you?
Far too many people to name. But I've always been particularly inspired by great singers, from Kathleen Ferrier to Billie Holiday, Lucia Popp to Joni Mitchell.
What or who have you been listening to recently?
Handel's Messiah, Ella Fitzgerald’s Songbook recordings, Scottish folk fiddling, a Christmas song I wrote with my brother called Is That Rudolph’s Nose?
You were a judge for the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2018, and have worked with our West of England Youth Orchestra in the past, what do you think about the new generation of talent?
I loved working with the wonderful West of England Youth Orchestra last year, and it's always a joy to hear young talent. There will never be a shortage of potential talent in the world, but with the gradual erosion of music from the state education system, I really worry about whether young people in the UK will continue to get the support and opportunity needed to excel in a performing career. As someone who relied on bursaries and scholarships throughout my musical education, I just hope the next generation get the same chances as I did. Talent can strike anywhere, but it needs support to flourish!
What is some advice you would give to young musicians hoping to start a career in the industry?
Always to put the music first. There will inevitably be ups and downs in any creative life, but the music will never let you down. It’s the greatest gift, a means to express things beyond words. People often like to suggest that a career in music is a great struggle, but anything worth doing is challenging, and it’s a wonderfully fulfilling way to make a life.
How would you describe your upcoming concert in January?
I'm passionate about thinking outside the box when it comes to programming, and this is a concert which combines iconic chamber works (with Mendelssohn's glorious Second Trio at its heart) with some of the most beautiful songs I know. From witty and poignant settings of British folksongs by Beethoven, Britten and Vaughan Williams, via the lush romanticism of Amy Beach and Clara Schumann, and culminating in some of my own chamber arrangements of Cole Porter's evergreen love songs, I think it's a programme with something for everyone. Audiences always seem to love the variety, and at WMC I'll be joined by three outstanding colleagues: violinist Savitri Grier (currently guest concertmaster of the Budapest Festival Orchestra); cellist Laura van der Heijden (former winner of BBC Young Musician of the Year); and international opera star Katharine Dain.