Franco-British cellist Florence Petit is an innovative and exciting young musician. Achieving her Diploma in Musical Studies in 2008, Florence continued her cello studies with Philippe Müller in Paris before moving to London to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Royal College of Music (RCM), graduating with first class honours.
The recipient of a diverse host of awards and prizes, Florence was generously supported by the Lynn Foundation, Saint Jude’s Trust, the Denne Gilkes Memorial Foundation and the Raphael Sommer Foundation during her studies, and participated in many European competitions, including the Concours des Zontas Clubs de France. Florence has taken part in numerous master classes with eminent musicians such as Johannes Goritzky and Jonathan Manson, Baroque cello.
As an orchestral musician, Florence has performed extensively with chamber and symphony orchestras across Europe, most recently with the Montpellier National Symphony Orchestra and with the English National Opera as part of their Evolve scheme.
In demand as a soloist, Florence has a regular programme of recitals throughout the UK with the acclaimed Franco-Taiwanese pianist Lysianne Chen. Florence is a founding member of the Leben Quartet and is a keen practitioner of historical performance, playing across Europe and the UK with her quartet Ignis.
Florence is passionate about discovering neglected chamber repertoire and exploring interesting instrumental pairings. With this in mind, Florence formed Duo Dekacord with guitarist Elias Sibley and the duo has developed an eclectic repertoire for their unusual paring of instruments, from arrangements and transcriptions of popular classics, to original works by 20th-century composers.
Which three people, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?
There are countless people I would like to meet, especially from the world of art. However, I find several personalities especially engaging at present: first of all, the legendary Romanian conductor, Sergiu Celibidache would be a most fascinating person to meet – as much for his personality as for his musicianship and philosophy of music.
Jacqueline Du Pré – who performed with Celibidache – is another remarkable individual. I would like to know what generated her inspiration and gave her such an obvious and infectious joy of playing.
Lastly, Jean Ranc, a French painter from the turn of 18th century, would complete my little trio of dinner guests. I would love to ask him about his painting Vertumne et Pomone, which really touched and surprised me, especially after I learnt about the legend behind the painting.
What’s on your playlist right now?
My playlist is quite eclectic at the moment: Vladimir Horowitz playing Scriabin, various recordings by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and Jonathan Manson playing Baroque cello and viola da gamba. The latter musician is a more recent discovery for me, and his recordings are having a huge impact on the way I listen to Baroque music.
What do you love about classical music?
I am inspired and stimulated by so many aspects of classical music, but to me, the act of sharing is the most essential. To share my music with other musicians, as well as with the public makes music come alive!