We sat down with violinist Tasmin Little ahead of her last ever performance in Leeds as a concert violinist. In January 2019, Tasmin made the announcement that, after a long and exciting career, she has decided to pursue new directions from summer 2020.
Hello Tasmin, thank you for taking time from your busy touring schedule to speak with us. Where are you currently?
At the moment, I’m back at my home in London, between two North American concert trips… I’ve just been playing in Edmonton with the orchestra there and I’m about to head off to the Virginia Arts Festival to play works by Shostakovich, Franck, Ravel and Tchaikovsky!
You’re retiring from the concert platform in 2020 to focus on education and other non-performing projects. How do you believe we can make classical music more accessible and popular with younger generations?
I think that the number one most important priority is to keep music high on the list in terms of the National Curriculum. When I was growing up, my state primary school had several music teachers and because of this, I had access to violin lessons. Sadly, music is always the first subject to be threatened, whenever there are changes to the national curriculum, and it is so short-sighted, because children love creative subjects and it gives them a real sense of achievement and confidence, as well as all the other obvious benefits.
What have been some personal highlights of your career?
I have so many amazing highlights that it’s hard to single out particular ones… but I have to say that performing on tour with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra ranks high on the list! But I’ve loved having an opportunity to collaborate with each of my fantastic pianists over the course of my career, and also I’ve valued the work that I’ve done in the community for my Naked Violin project.
Where in the world is your favourite concert hall, have you ever performed there?
I love Carnegie Hall and it was a real dream to play there - the floorboards seemed alive with history and all the spirits of famous musicians who have played there! But I also love playing at the Proms in the Albert Hall - not especially because of the acoustic, but because of the atmosphere, which is unique.
Do you have a favourite piece to perform, and if so have you ever played it to an audience?
It’s hard to single out any particular favourite piece - I have played so many works over the past 30 years and I love everything I play! But one of my favourite concertos is the Brahms.
What five things would you put in a time capsule for the year 2100? What piece of music would you include?
That’s an interesting question! Let me think… I guess I’d have to put a photograph of me and my family in there… probably also a painting that I love, which I was given to me in 1987 when I first performed at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig. Perhaps it might be fun to pop in a long concert gown and a coffee machine! I don’t think I’ll put my violin in there, as it needs to be played! So, maybe the last item would be my watch, which is quite a traditional one in silver with a blue square dial. And the piece of music would be Ravel Daphnis and Chloe.
Lastly, what are you looking forward to the most about performing at Leeds Town Hall with the European Union Chamber Orchestra? Will this be your last performance as a concert violinist in Leeds?
I think this will most likely be my last performance in Leeds and I have many happy memories of many performances there over the years. In fact, one of my first ever recitals took place in Leeds, so it’s a special place for me! One of the things that always tickles me when I’m rehearsing in the Town Hall is to spot the blue paint pot at the top one of the organ pipes - I hope it’s still there! I love working with the European Union Chamber Orchestra - I have given more than 50 performances with them and they are a fantastic group with a real joy of music-making. Plus the Mozart concerto that I’m playing is my favourite one, so I’m very happy to be playing this work for my last concert in Leeds.