Bassoonist Ursula Leveaux will be appearing at our Summer Festival this year. We caught up with her to find out more about her.
What is your favourite piece of music?
It sometimes feels as if my favourite piece of music is the one I’m working on at any given moment but if I had to pin one down the one that always comes to mind is : Entrée de Polymnie from ‘Les Boréades’ by Rameau. There’s a wonderful recording by the Orchestra of the 18th Century conducted by Frans Bruggen.
An unusual / little known fact about you?
It may seem a bit unlikely but I had a dance training before I studied music full time. I always knew I would never actually make a dancer so there wasn’t a moment when I had to be told that I wasn’t cut out for it! I think it was as much about it being a physical response to music- before I was lucky enough to play it. I love to watch all forms of dance and do feel that it informs a lot of my own playing.
What, or who, inspired you to become a musician?
I suspect my answer to the last question is also tied up with this question! However I have also been incredibly lucky to have had the most wonderful teacher throughout my life: Brian Pollard, who was the principal bassoon of the Concertgebouw Orchestra for 42 years, and so much more than that. He inspired any musician who he came into contact with and I continued to learn so much about playing music and living life from him until he died in 2013. I still miss him.
Your career highlight so far (not just GMF!)?
A bit like choosing a favourite piece of music, I have been so lucky with all the things I’ve done that it’s virtually impossible to choose a single event!
The things that spring to mind today are: playing Bach Cantatas in Iona Abbey on the July 28th 2000, the 250th anniversary of JS Bach’s death.
Playing a solo recital at the Edinburgh Festival with the wonderful Malcolm Martineau. Playing the Hummel Bassoon concerto in the shadow of the Bowmore distillery on the island if Islay. Ask me tomorrow, the list would be different!
Funniest / most embarrassing moment in music ?
Completely misinterpreting the conductor’s beat and playing the first note of Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture into complete silence, half a bar before the rest of the orchestra came in! The thing I most treasure about the experience was that afterwards, my lovely colleague Alison’s comment was “ well, at least it was a beautiful sound”! Bless her!