Originally a violinist, Jessica turned to the viola after being introduced to it at Chetham’s School of Music by Graham Oppenheimer. She studied there for seven years and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Jessica recently finished her undergraduate degree at the Royal College of Music (RCM) where she studied firstly with Jonathan Barritt and later with Simon Rowland-Jones.
In the middle of her degree course, Jessica took a year off from her studies and lived in Havana, Cuba where she taught music and the violin at the International School. She also played with the Orchestra of the Cuban National Ballet and at the conservatoire in Havana. In her final year at the RCM, Jessica was one of just three string players chosen to travel to China to perform with the students at the conservatoire in Guangzhou.
Jessica has played under the baton of world-renowned conductors such as Bernard Haitink, Sir Antonio Pappano, Sir Mark Elder and Sir Roger Norrington. She has also played in masterclasses with Lawrence Power, Jennifer Stumm and Lars Anders Tomter, amongst others.
Jessica plays regularly with the Kantanti Ensemble, for which she is Orchestral Manager, and also with the Northern Lights Symphony Orchestra. She particularly enjoys opera and has performed for RCM operas and with a number of opera companies. She recently toured Scotland with Scottish Opera’s production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola.
Jessica enjoys teaching in a school in East London and also has a number of private pupils.
What do you love about classical music?
I love the way classical music can evoke so many different emotions. I love the immense variety of music encompassed under the term ‘classical’ music and the different experiences of playing, from small intimate ensembles to symphony orchestras. I love the complexity of a massive symphony and the feeling that I’m part of bringing all those notes together to create something awe inspiring.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Various things; Sam Smith, Everything Everything, Paolo Nutini, a couple of Cuban bands and a few Hindemith sonatas!
Which three people, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?
David Lloyd (Bumble) – I have been brought up in a cricket mad household and went to my first match at four days old! After a brief playing career (the only highlight being a caught and bowled), I decided to narrow my activities to spectating and I love watching the game and discussing it. I’m sure Bumble’s anecdotes would keep me thoroughly entertained throughout the evening. He also might introduce me to Alastair Cooke.
Paul Hindemith – There’s so little music composed specifically for the viola and he really was a champion of the instrument, being a very proficient player himself. He had a fascinating life. Born into poverty he supported himself through his music from the age of fifteen! He lived in Germany during the rise of the Nazis and the relationship between his music and the political regime is quite complicated and intriguing. It might be a heavy night!
Judi Dench – I’ve seen her twice on the Graham Norton Show and she seems such a lovely, funny person. She’s amazingly talented and having had a career that has spanned over fifty years, I’m sure conversation would never dry up. She could give me lots of Hollywood insider gossip and apparently she still goes clubbing so we could do that, once we’d washed the dishes.