I have always been surrounded by music. My childhood home was filled with the patter of tiny stamping feet (mine and my sister’s) running up and down the living room to Hall of the Mountain King in a blur of excitement. However, it wasn’t until I was 22 and spending more hours with a photocopier in a law firm than with my violin that I realised I had to follow my heart and allow music to become my profession. Fast-forward four years and I find myself depping in Les Misérables in the West End, just a few tube stops away from my former legal career, and spending my days discussing booted goblins in Haydn with my wonderfully mad quartet colleagues.
I grew up in Northamptonshire, a place most people don’t know much about — unless you’re from a rival county participating in the National Festival of Music for Youth, in which case, you will have heard of its audacious Music and Performing Arts Service (now Trust), which I was involved with throughout most of my childhood. I also joined the National Youth Orchestra aged 14, where I first experienced the magic of a true orchestral pianissimo. All this fed my hunger for a deeper understanding of the music I was playing, so I decided to read music at Cambridge, combining my passion with my overall goal (at the time) of pursuing a City career.
Hurrying away from the photocopier, I studied my master’s at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) with chamber specialist Richard Ireland. My career so far has been extremely varied, which is exactly the way I like it. I’m having a lot of fun with The Bell Quartet: we formed in September 2018 and gained a place on the Academy’s advanced chamber scheme (ASSET) the following month, mentored by Garfield Jackson (the Endellions). Highlights have included performing at Brundibár Arts Festival with Simon Wallfisch; playing Panufnik to Roxanna herself; and winning the Wolfe Wolfinsohn Prize at RAM. Beyond quartet, I have performed with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, London Concert Orchestra and the Britten-Pears Orchestra, and regularly play principal second with Outcry Ensemble and London Young Sinfonia. I also love getting involved with contemporary performance projects, and will rarely say no to musical theatre.
Beyond the stage, you might find me baking vegan brownies, curled up with a book, or up a mountain somewhere taking too many photos of waterfalls.
Royal Academy of Music
University of Cambridge
Where’s your favourite place to listen to music and why?
Any place of spirituality with a fantastic acoustic, live and by candlelight. Although I am not religious, this is the setting where music most moves me because it is possible to completely detach from the chaos of the outside world and appreciate the transcendental qualities of the music. At the other end of the spectrum, my favourite place to listen to music such as Beethoven Symphony No.8 or The Rite of Spring would be anywhere it is socially acceptable to dance along!
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
An animal rights charity worker, and/or a novelist.
Hannah is a member of the 2020-2021 fellowship.