Forging futures3:36, 10th March 2020
The Foyle Future First (FFF) scheme was developed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra to nurture talented orchestral players. Participants rehearse and perform alongside LPO professionals throughout the year, and benefit from opportunities to develop skills outside of playing, such as creative leadership, through the orchestra’s education and community programme.
We caught up with three violinists, Lasma Taimina, Kate Oswin and Minn Majoe, recent graduates of FFF and the newest members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
What were the most beneficial aspects of the Foyle Future Firsts scheme?
Lasma Taimina: The regular private lessons with the principal players of the orchestra – and playing pre-concert performances with other FFF and LPO members was a unique opportunity. I got a chance to lead Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (chamber orchestra version) switching between two differently tuned violins.
Kate Oswin: The lessons and workshops spent specifically on audition preparation. This is something that is so crucial, yet often is perhaps not as highly prioritised in conservatoire education as solo and chamber music performance. I also really benefitted from the opportunity to work alongside LPO musicians in all aspects of the job – in particular working on several different projects with the education and community department within the wider London community.
Minn Majoe: One of the benefits of FFF is that it has a well-rounded approach to an orchestral musician’s career. Coaching with LPO principals and playing in a couple of LPO concerts throughout the year is the core of the scheme. The symphonic is combined with FFF chamber orchestra performances where we performed quite a few contemporary works. I enjoyed the collaborative feeling as you work closely with conductors and FFF composers. You also participate in education workshops, something which is increasingly important today across the industry. This is a good opportunity to discover whether you’d like to further develop skills in this field or simply be inspired by amazing teachers and workshop leaders.
As FFF is not a full-time course, how did you find fitting it in around other commitments? What kind of work did you have alongside the scheme?
LT: At the time of FFF I was a second-year Masters student at the Royal College of Music so it was sometimes very difficult to find time for everything – I was running from my LPO sit-ins to college engagements and lessons and I also had to teach regularly and rehearse with other orchestras. It was a hard but very rewarding year in my life – the less time you have the more you can achieve. The question is if you actually appreciate all your opportunities enough to give it 110%.
KO: I found the flexibility of the FFF course did allow me to take on other work, and when I started winning trials during the year the staff were very supportive of fitting these around FFF activities. During the scheme, I was on trial for positions in both the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and at the conclusion of the scheme I was very fortunate to be appointed to the CBSO First Violins. I was also a CAVATINA Chamber Music Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music, which involved a lot of string quartet concerts around the UK and abroad, and I also taught undergraduate violin students at Kings College London. It was a very full-on year, but it certainly prepared me well for the demands of a full-time orchestral schedule in the UK!
MM: I found it quite easy to fit FFF alongside other commitments. At the time I had a few trials going on as well as freelance work and quartet tours so was relatively busy. Most things are quite flexible and any others are fixed early in advance.
What are you looking forward to about joining the LPO?
LT: LPO often performs three different programmes in one week so that’s an unbelievable chance to learn new repertoire. Also it has some of the loveliest people I have ever met – it is always such a joy to go to work. But one thing excites me most is the January and February of 2021 when we are going to play the complete Ring Cycle. In my opinion Wagner was a true genius and the world transformed after him. He was a composer, philosopher, writer; I was listening to and reading everything by him and about him before I even knew about LPO’s project. So going to rehearse Siegfried now in January and waiting for the cycle to be rehearsed and performed in a year is a dream come true.
KO: I’m most looking forward to the great variety of incredible repertoire that the LPO performs. My first project will be Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress at Glyndebourne, which will be special for me as it was one of the first works I performed at the Royal Academy of Music when I moved to the UK. I am also looking forward to performing my first ever Ring Cycle, which I’m sure will be a challenging but equally rewarding experience.
It’s wonderful to be part of an orchestra I’ve listened to since childhood
MM: The LPO are a lovely bunch and I’m looking forward to performing some fantastic music with them. It’s wonderful to be part of an orchestra I’ve listened to since childhood. I love travelling so the upcoming tours to Germany, France and Spain will be great fun.
What advice would you give to recent graduates of performance degrees about taking the next steps towards a professional career?
LT: Knock on all the doors and use every opportunity that comes your way. Even if you don’t know where to find time for everything, one day you will look back at that part of your life where you had a chance to open any doors you wanted and say that’s what made you become the person and musician you are now.
Make sure you are not one of those many musicians who just play the right notes. Music is much more than that: discover, explore, read and find your own voice. Commit.
KO: Go out and experience all kinds of music and art, especially those from outside your own discipline – practising scales is important, but shutting yourself in a room all day won’t get you anywhere! Always come to auditions and work fully prepared. Figure out what you want to achieve professionally, and then surround yourself with like-minded people who will help you develop the skills to get there.
Practising scales is important, but shutting yourself in a room all day won’t get you anywhere
MM: In the simplest terms I’d say stay humble, curious and work hard. Try not to worry about what your peers are doing, especially on social media! Have conviction and you’ll find the path which feels right for you.