10 for 10: Alumni Q&A with Oliver Pashley

10 for 10: Alumni Q&A with Oliver Pashley

Oliver Pashley

clarinet, 2015 

To celebrate ten years of the partnership between Southbank Sinfonia and EFG Private Banking, and to highlight how together we have helped musicians from across the world build successful and varied careers, we are presenting 10 for 10: 10 alumni stories over 10 months shining a spotlight on the achievements of our brilliant alumni. 

We caught up with 2015 clarinetist Oliver Pashley about what he's been up to since completing the Southbank Sinfonia Fellowship.

What motivated you to join Southbank Sinfonia originally?

I was approaching the end of my time at music college, and the professional world of work as a musician still seemed totally baffling and confusing. How was I supposed to start working? Who do I contact? What do I do? I applied for Southbank Sinfonia in the hope of untangling some of these questions and gaining some clarity on what I wanted out of my career.

What is your favourite memory from your time in Southbank Sinfonia?
I was lucky enough to be in the cohort that went to Hong Kong back in 2015, and that was a very special memory for me. It was the furthest I’d ever travelled, and to discover such a vibrant, exciting new city with my friends and colleagues was an incredible opportunity. I still remember all the dim sum I scoffed every day! (And the music, of course…)

What have you been up to since completing the Southbank Sinfonia fellowship?
Since leaving Southbank Sinfonia my work with The Hermes Experiment has increased as the group has grown and developed; I had a couple of trials with various orchestras and last year became Sub-Principal Clarinet of Britten Sinfonia, a post that I’m delighted and humbled to hold. Other than that, I freelance in various orchestras and ensembles, I teach a little bit, and I also write articles (mostly interviews) for interlude.hk, an online classical music journal, which funnily enough is based in Hong Kong, although has no connection to our trip there.

What might a typical working week look like for you at the moment?
Right now, a typical working week for me looks probably much the same as everyone else’s in my sector: completely empty, thanks to the coronavirus chaos. In general, however, every week is a different week for me. I could be spending a week away from home on tour; I could be in a studio recording some music for film or tv, I could be doing one-off concerts on different days in different places, I could be doing a composition workshop at a music college with my Hermes friends…or, equally importantly, I could be taking some time off to rest!

How did being in Southbank Sinfonia help you in your achievements since leaving the orchestra, such as your work with The Hermes Experiment and Britten Sinfonia, and your writing for interlude.hk?
I think one of Southbank Sinfonia’s main draws is the variety of work you get immersed into during your time there. Some people believe classical musicians’ roles start and end on the concert platform, but nowadays that couldn’t be further from the truth. To survive nowadays involves having many strands to your work - very few people can get by just by playing. Having time in Southbank Sinfonia to discover what you might like to be more involved with after your time there - whether that be education work, workshop leading, music with media, crossover genres - is incredibly useful. Musicians should be advocates for a stronger, better, more varied, inclusive society and Southbank Sinfonia strives to teach you that. 

In addition, having to juggle all of Southbank Sinfonia’s projects around other life and work commitments prepared me for life as a professional musician - it’s never too early to get used to the idea of having too much to do with not quite enough time! 

What goals do you have for the future?
My main goal for the immediate future is to not go insane in COVID lockdown… Apart from that, I want to keep doing what I’m doing and never stop learning and growing.

Do you have a message to pass on to Southbank Sinfonia supporters?
Perhaps in these times, as much as ever do, we need support for the arts. The arts enrich everyone on a daily basis, and it is simply a fact that without the immense generosity and support shown to organisations such as Southbank Sinfonia, the cultural landscape of this country would quickly become barren. The support you offer to the orchestra can be seen (and, more importantly, heard!) tangibly on any day you choose to observe this organisation at work. Not only do you provide an immediate opportunity to performance graduates of the highest standard, but by providing this level of training and experience early on in people’s careers, you also galvanise the industry by sending into the world young people who are fresh, passionate advocates for classical music - something that will stay with them for their whole careers.

Find out more about Oliver here.

Photo credit: Andreas Grieger