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Things Musicians Don't Talk About
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Things Musicians Don't Talk About

Author: Hattie Butterworth

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Hattie Butterworth and Rebecca Toal host a podcast of insight and change in the classical music and arts professions. Delving into the often stigmatised worlds of mental health, injury, discrimination and productivity, classical music issues are spoken and revived. Join Hattie, Rebecca and guests for a new podcasts more often than not!
34 Episodes
Welcome back! Today Hattie and Rebecca speak with concert pianist Clare Hammond about her experience with generalised anxiety disorder, post-natal depression and how these experiences have lead Clare to performances in schools and prisons. They speak about managing a mental illness as a musician, how it might feel to inhabit a prolonged period of darkness, how and whether to communicate struggle with audiences and Clare's work within prisons. Find Clare's article for Classical Music UK about music in prisons hereFind Changing Tunes for music in prisons hereClare's websiteFollow Clare on TwitterFollow us on TwitterSupport the podcast if you can and buy us a coffee!More about ClareAcclaimed as a “pianist of extraordinary gifts” (Gramophone) and “immense power” (The Times), Clare Hammond is recognised for the virtuosity and authority of her performances. In 2016, she won the Royal Philharmonic Society's 'Young Artist Award' in recognition of outstanding achievement and in 2020 she was engaged to perform at the International Piano Series (Southbank Centre).  Performances during the pandemic included recitals for the Wigmore Hall and Aldeburgh Music, a live recital broadcast for BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts from St David’s Cardiff, and broadcast recordings of Moussa and Carwithen with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Geoffrey Paterson) and BBC Concert Orchestra (Gavin Sutherland). During 2020-21, Clare was engaged to perform with the Britten Sinfonia (Ryan Wigglesworth), Sinfonia Varsovia (Jacek Kaspszyk), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Christoph Altstaedt) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Dalia Stasevska). In recent seasons, she has performed with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (Vasily Petrenko), Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra (Jacek Kaspszyk), and Philharmonia (Jamie Phillips).  Clare gave the world premiere of Uncoiling The River by Kenneth Hesketh with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (Martyn Brabbins) and released the Complete Keyboard Works of Myslivecek with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra (Nicholas McGegan) for BIS Records in 2019. Clare’s discs for BIS have been widely praised with her latest, Variations, receiving extensive critical approval. The disc was commended for its “shimmering pianism and lightly-worn virtuosity” (BBC Music Magazine) and “artistry of the highest order” (Musical Opinion), while Crescendo (Belgium) hailed her as “one of the most exploratory pianistic personalities of our time”. Clare’s discography includes world premiere recordings of over twenty works.  Clare completed a BA at Cambridge University, where she obtained a double first in music, and undertook postgraduate study with Ronan O’Hora at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
This time on Things Musicians Don't Talk About, we meet Ellie Consta, the founder of Her Ensemble. We talk about the struggles of lockdown, life as a musician, and her growing discomfort with the classical music world as it stands today. These issues together lead her to set up Her Ensemble, the UK's first women and non-binary orchestra, which is taking the classical music scene by storm.Thank you to Ellie for all of the incredibly important work that she is doing, and for speaking to us so honestly and openly.London based violinist, arranger and director Ellie Consta leads an exciting and varied musical career performing in a range of musical genres. Ellie’s versatility and diverse range of interests and influences means she appears regularly with world renowned orchestras, ensembles and chamber groups, as well as world class artists and bands. Recent highlights include performing for Louis Tomlinson, Pixie Lott, Tom Walker, Laura Marling, and Jack Savoretti, as well as arranging music for Wilma Archer, Flyte, Litany and Caitlyn Scarlett. Since graduating from the Royal College of Music with a first class Honours MPerf degree, Ellie has been offered contracts with the CBSO and ESO, as well as working regularly with the LPO, Spira Mirabilis, Britten Sinfonia, the 12 Ensemble, United Strings of Europe and leading Guy Barker’s Big Band. She was also a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra for four years and is currently on trial for a sub-principal position with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, Ellie founded Her Ensemble, the UK’s first women and non-binary orchestra who made their debut this month at Battersea Arts Centre. Since forming in November 2020, the group have already recorded a feature film score for BBC Scotland, performed alongside Pixie Lott and LITANY and been featured by The Strad, Scala Radio and Help Musician’s UK. 
In today's episode Hattie speaks with the renowned cellist Laura van Der Heijden. Laura won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award in 2012 at the age of 15 and since then has gone on to establish herself as a concerto soloist and chamber musician in high demand. In the episode Laura and I speak about her ongoing struggles with performance anxiety and how debilitating the experience of performing can feel. We also speak about the pressures around winning such a prestigious competition and how Laura believes she made decisions that took into account her desire for longevity as an artist, often turning down opportunities she didn't feel ready for. We also speak about body image within classical music and how Laura has found spaces to be vulnerable professionally, expressing how freeing rehearsing with the Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective has been. The recent pandemic saw Laura take a decision to leave cello practice for a time, spending time with her family and exploring different types of music. We speak about how Laura has found new musical life through learning jazz piano and improvisation.I can't thank Laura enough for giving us her time, vulnerability and warmth and I hope you all enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed speaking with her!Find out more about Laura and her upcoming projects!The Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective
This time, Rebecca takes her turn as interviewer. She speaks to the exceptional Lauren McQuistin about her journey through alcoholism and into recovery, and how it has impacted her musical and personal life. Alcohol is such a mainstay of the music industry, classical and otherwise, and Lauren speaks with such honesty and eloquence on this historically taboo subject. The line between what can be seemingly 'harmless' social drinking and potentially devastating alcoholism is extremely fine, and hearing about Lauren's own struggles and subsequent determination to recover was inspirational to say the least. Scottish soprano, Lauren McQuistin, completed her undergraduate studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before moving to America to pursue a Master of Music at Indiana University. In Scotland she featured as a soloist with BBC Choir of the Year Les Sirenes, as well as performing as Donna Anna in scenes performances. A keen interpreter of Russian music, McQuistin made her Scottish Opera/McOpera Collective debut as Marfa in Shostakovich’s Rotschild's Violin, as well as competing in and winning the Art Song class in the Sergei Leiferkus Competition for Voice in Moscow. Upon moving to America, she performed as Alice Ford and Adriana Lecouvreur in Vaness' Opera workshop, and she made her IU principal debut in 2016 as the title role of Florencia in the Jacob's School of Music production of Florencia en el Amazonas. She then went on to perform Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Bloomingvoce, in Bloomington. During this time she was awarded district winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in St Louis and Nashville. Lauren was additionally the recipient of the Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize, whose purpose is to assist in launching the career of a graduating voice student who demonstrates exceptional talent as an artist and promise for professional success. Find out more about Lauren: https://www.laurenmcquistin.comOur website is: https://thingsmusiciansdonttalkabout.comInstagram: @tmdtapodcastTwitter: by Stuart Beard
Episode 25- Melissa Brown

Episode 25- Melissa Brown


Hattie speaks with trombonist and fellow podcaster, Melissa Brown about her OCD diagnosis and the impact it has had on Melissa both personally and professionally. We speak about suffering during music college, the reality of living every minute of the day with intense anxiety and how to find the right therapy for OCD. Melissa speaks so mindfully and with so much professionalism, whilst still having a real desire to connect and be vulnerable. I really felt at home and supported through this conversation, knowing that we never suffer alone, however lonely OCD feels.More about Melissa:Melissa Brown (she/her) is a trombonist, brass teacher, and podcaster now based in the Midlands of the UK (Leicestershire to be precise). She is a graduate of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and is now a freelance professional trombonist with a lot of her work focussed on educating future musicians either as a classroom music teacher or low brass specialist instrumental teacher.  Melissa is also the host, producer, and editor over at Bold as Brass Podcast where she interviews fellow brass professionals from around the world about their jobs. They just surpassed 10K downloads and had a conversational panel to celebrate (feel free to check it out on their Facebook page). Her website, to find out more, is: website is: https://thingsmusiciansdonttalkabout.comAnd instagram: @tmdtapodcast
Trigger warning: discussions around specific homophobic commentsExplicit language is used. Today we are speaking about recent backlash and online homophobia beneath three posts on Classic FM's social media to celebrate pride month and support the LGBTQ+ community.We were shocked and saddened to imagine musicians still enduring an environment where to be yourself is to be attacked, even in 2021. The truth remains that to be different or to bring visibility into your music making, in order to end loneliness and stigma, is still a huge risk.Rebecca and Hattie discuss why visibility within classical music circles is vital, why they may have felt sidelined in the past with various issues and the vibrancy brought through musicians' differences and struggles.Classic FM's articles supporting pride:Gay classical composersLGBTQ music ensembles worldwideLGBTQ conductorsFind us!Website/blog InstagramFacebookKeep in touch! 
CW: Suicidal thoughtsI sit down with Rebecca for our first chat as co-hosts! We discuss the fear around suicidal thoughts, leaving music college, managing transitions, body image, recovery and many more musician things. Rebecca also gives us some careers advice and insight into her plans for the future.I am beyond thrilled to be able to talk so openly in this new podcast partnership and can't wait to see what the future holds with Becca on board!Hattie xxFind us:https://thingsmusiciansdonttalkabout.com
Episode 22- Raye Harvey

Episode 22- Raye Harvey


Today is all things Chineke!, Steiner education, mental health and branching out of classical music into other projects/genres!Hattie chats to violinist Raye Harvey about her life and education. Delving into the subtle ways in which subtle racial discrimination has been transformed by the work of the Chineke! Orchestra, Raye talks about becoming involved with Europe's majority-Black and ethnically diverse orchestra and how transformational that has been. Raye speaks openly about her mental health, expressing why few musicians emerge from conservatoire unscathed. She speaks about how she sought professional support, including CBT in the past few years and about her experience with seasonal affective disorder.More about Raye:Raye Harvey is a Manchester based violinist and singer-songwriter who completed her undergraduate degree at the RNCM and is currently finishing a PGCEi with Music Masters. Coming from a large Indian-Caribbean family, Raye loves travel, collaboration and working in many different genres. As well as teaching, she performs extensively as an orchestral and session musician, including with the Ignition Orchestra, on the Brand New Heavies newest album and internationally with the Chineke! Orchestra. Raye is passionate about making music accessible for all and increasing diversity in Classical music. She also recently released her debut self-titled EP “Lakshmi”, and was made BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester’s Artist of the Week.Follow Raye!TwitterRaye's personal instagramLakshmi's instagram
Welcome back! Today I am speaking with composer and guitarist George Dexter Evans about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and autism and how they impact his life as a musician and composer. We speak about the common misconceptions surrounding CFS, about taking time away to recover before starting university, being a 'mature' student and the stigma surrounding it. We also speak about George's later diagnosis of autism, how special interests and 'masking' have played into George's life, and how it can impact day to day functioning.About George:George Evans is a composer and electronic musician based in London. He studied electric guitar before pursuing a degree in composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with Malcolm Singer and Hollie Harding. He will be continuing at Guildhall in 2021, focusing on a Master’s degree in Electronic and Produced Music.His current compositional interests include the ambiguity between stasis and movement, the spatialisation of sound, and what it means for music to be immersive. His work combines influence from Feldman, Saariaho and Takemitsu as well as ambient and drone music. Recent pieces include ‘Expanses’ for clarinet and electronics (fixed media), recorded by the celebrated clarinettist Heather Roche, and ‘Golden Jubilee Bridges at Night’ recorded by the Guildhall Session Orchestra as part of the Illuminated River project 2021. Find George on Soundcloud:
I am so sad that it’s the final day of walks, but today I am escaping the rain inside! I answer some of your questions about making decisions when you’re feeling unstable, the stigma of moving back in with your parents and what to do when things feel endless. Thank you so much everyone who has tuned in this week and made it so special. Also to my Instagram Live guests, Rebecca and Abi for their vulnerability and openness. 
Thank you for joining me for another walk!! Today I am talking about my vulnerability hangover and how the news affects our mental health (and why it’s ok to delete it) 
Today I am talking about power abuse in light of being sent this article, written by David-Emil Wickstroem called 'Dealing with (institutionalised) forms of power abuse'.Power abuse can lead to mental health problems and is a big issue within our profession that needs addressing. Today I am sharing my experience with power abuse and hope it helps you to feel less alone if it's something that you've also dealt with, or are dealing with currently. Looking forward to seeing you all this evening for the instagram live at 8pm with Rebecca Toal!
Morning! Today was a struggle to wake up but we did. I am walking and talking about the difficulties of mindfulness, why screen time isn’t always a bad thing, letting go of labels and thinking about humility.Hope this week is going well for you so far!
Welcome to the first of five walks to raise awareness this Mental Health Awareness Week! Today I am out in rural Oxfordshire talking about how the current situation is impacting our mental health, my fears for the future, how I have overcome disordered work and practice and the similarities between restrictive eating disorders and practice obsession.
Today I am talking to the wonderful soprano Channa Malkin about her upcoming CD launch, inspired by the issues, stigmas and graces of motherhood. We talk about Channa’s journey to becoming a mother and the misconceptions many performers have about motherhood and working alongside it.Channa's headshot is by photographer Brendon Heinst‍While growing up in a family of classical musicians, soprano Channa Malkin initially enjoyed other creative outlets such as painting and writing. Music was always present, as she went from playing the flute to songwriting and singing in choir and bands. But when she discovered opera as a teenager, there was no way back: she auditioned for the role of Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro at the Dutch National Opera, and made her debut at 16 years old. There, Channa found her true voice and embarked upon a path that has led her to become the artist and performer she is today.Channa's new album, released on Friday 7th May,  This is not a lullaby . The album features the little-known song cycle Rocking the Child by Miecyslaw Weinberg, John Tavener’s Akhmatova Songs for soprano and cello, as well as various Russian songs composed by her father Josef Malkin. A key aspect of this programme is Channa’s desire to go against the typical trope of a mother rocking her child to sleep and instead present the lows as well as the highs, and a much more varied portrayal of how having a baby has impacted her identity as an artist and woman.In her blog post on motherhood Channa writes,Becoming a mother has taught me that I’m stronger than I thought. Compared to growing ahuman being in my body, giving birth and surviving the first year of motherhood, any professional challenge feels like a piece of cake. It has also taught me to trust my intuition, rather than worry about what other people might think. And every day, my son is teaching me to be more calm, more confident and more open to whatever life throws my way. And to laugh about it in the process.
Episode 19-Matt Frost

Episode 19-Matt Frost


How often do we really think about our hearing health as musicians? Do we realise how great the risks to hearing damage actually are and how to protect ourselves adequately? How might we navigate a change in career path within, or outside of the music profession and how can we discern and communicate our desire to diversify? Today I am speaking with trainee audiologist and percussionist, Matt Frost. Matt Frost is partially deaf. Diagnosed with hearing loss at 17, he pursued his musical dream undeterred, training as an orchestral percussionist at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Reckoning with hearing loss in an industry defined by the perception of sound changed the way he related to music entirely and set in motion a whole new vocation of protecting others’ hearing health.Upon graduating in 2019, Matt began working for Harley Street Hearing and the Musicians’ Hearing Services as a clinical Practice Assistant. It is at this intersection between the worlds of music and audiology that he feels he can best serve others. He is thrilled to now be training as an audiologist at Harley Street Hearing as he works towards a degree in Hearing Aid Audiology with Anglia Ruskin
 "Opera is queer af". Yet is is seated within the classical music profession- one dominated by a white, straight,  middle-class and privileged persona. Musicians have never fitted this rigidity. The abundance of creativity and expression needed to connect with audiences requires a mind that thinks outside of the binary mentality. We also naturally have sexual and gender expressions that match the individual, rather than the gender construct. Still, musicians speak about this very rarely.I am so excited to share this conversation with you. My guest today is Ella Taylor. Winner of the Second Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Ella Taylor is a soprano with a passion for performing contemporary music and works by women and gender non-conforming artists. They were a Young Artist with the National Opera Studio for 2019/20 season, as well as a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, where they gained Distinction in MA Performance, a DipRAM for an outstanding final recital, and the Charles Norman Prize. They currently study with Elizabeth Ritchie.Ella is a keen collaborator and recitalist, making a dedicated effort to work with and perform works by people underrepresented in classical music.  Recent collaborations include the project After Violence with _REMIX; an exploration of violence and masculinity through a queer lens with drag artist Rhys’s Pieces, as well as working with composers and librettists in the creation of new, LGBT+ work. They also have performed at Leeds Lieder as part of the Composer and Poets Forum and with Ensemble 360 at Music in the Round.In the episode, we speak about Ella's journey to identifying as trans and non-binary and what this means to them. We also speak about the world of opera and how people love to gender/stereotype voice parts. Ella shares what it looks like to be a good ally and how musicians can help promoting inclusivity and how they navigate introducing their identity to people who may have a more traditional understanding of gender.Find out more about Ella:@etaylorsoprano Instagram/TwitterI am so excited to be sharing this conversation with you!
Episode 17- Hannah Fiddy

Episode 17- Hannah Fiddy


Today I am talking to the co-founder and director of Alternative Classical, Hannah Fiddy. I talk to Hannah about her journey with music and studying music at Cambridge and how this subsequently lead to a passion for diversifying and expanding the often narrow view of classical music and how it is presented.  Hannah is a creative entrepreneur, classical music consultant and content creator based in Shoreditch. She has experience working with choirs, venues orchestras, composers, musicians and charities, leading the publicity campaigns for numerous concerts outside of traditional spaces, including warehouses, pubs, clubs, museums, hospitals and prisons. Specialising in social media, Hannah has managed the digital presence for many music organisations and artists including choral composer John Rutter. Her production credits include classical club nights for Nonclassical and pop-up gigs and tours for Street Orchestra Live. Hannah’s alter ego is the Founder of London Flashmob, creating quirky events from wedding proposals to cultural pranks, including the London Undersound – a participatory audio adventure through the streets of Soho, which attracted over 1,000 participants.  Hannah is a music graduate of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and attended a state comprehensive school in Peterborough.Alternative Classical creates and promotes new approaches to classical music. It offers consultancy, creative direction, and artist/project management services to music organisations and individuals who create informal classical music experiences for diverse audiences.
Episode 16- Nikita Bazil

Episode 16- Nikita Bazil


Today we are talking all things OCD. I speak to my wonderful friend and fellow OCD advocate, Anglo-Armenian soprano Nikita Bazil. Nikita is currently studying a Postrgraduate Classical Vocal course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under the tutelage of John Evans. Her passion for music and classical singing emerged during her school years, where she developed skills in both piano and clarinet alongside her vocal studies to enhance her musicianship.  Having engaged in recovery with her own mental health, Nikita prioritises raising awareness of mental health not only within general society but with particular focus in the classical music industry.We are sharing our own OCD stories and Nikita talks about her journey with depression and times in hospital due to her OCD. *please note, we do briefly discuss themes around suicidal thoughts, depression and hospitalisation. They are not discussed in detail, though listener discretion is advised*
Joining me today is trumpet player, Rebecca Toal. We speak about Rebecca's musical journey, her struggles with anorexia and bulimia at school and how she has curated an instagram platform to speak about body image and eating disorders. We also talk about how Rebecca manages her depression and the journey to becoming an authentic musician, even if that means following an undiscovered and non-typical path.Rebecca Toal is a freelance trumpet player, harpist and teacher based in London. Rebecca recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, and is currently working as a graduate music assistant in St Albans, Hertfordshire. She is currently studying for the LRAM teaching diploma and also working towards her Level 2 Counselling Skills certificate. Rebecca is passionate about discussing mental health and body image, and has previously volunteered for the mental health group, ​Run Talk Run, a​ nd ​The Real People Project ​on Instagram.
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