Who is Laurent Power?
Lawrence Power is an internationally renowned British alto
player, known for the richness of his sound, the elegance of his interpretations and his adventurous approach to programming – someone who, by his own admission, will always choose to play Ligeti or Berio solo on the viola rather than Bach.
Does he come from a family of musicians?
No. But luckily, her local school did tests to see if the students were musicians, which is how her musical talent was discovered.
So, like many violists, he probably started on the violin, then moved on to the viola?
Actually no. Being tall for his age, he immediately took up the viola in elementary school at the age of seven. Although generally considered less glamorous than the violin, the viola had a more immediate appeal for Power, perhaps because – as he once suggested in an interview – violas for beginners can sound much better than violins for beginners.
Where did he train?
After primary school, Power began studying with Mark Knight in the junior department at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Later, he spent a year at the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied with Karen Tuttle.
What was his breakthrough?
After returning to London from New York, he won first prize at the Primrose International Viola Competition in 1999. The following year he was selected as a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist. Since then he has performed as a soloist with orchestras around the world.
Is he just a viola soloist?
He also plays a lot of chamber music, performing regularly with the Nash set
, and runs the West Wycombe Chamber Music Festival – an annual event which originally grew out of a memorial concert he organized for his grandmother, who had lived in this area. In 2003, he was recruited to lead the Berlin Philharmonic
, but although he had performed with them in Mahler’s Third Symphony under Bernard Haitink, he turned down the role in order to concentrate on solo and chamber work. He is also known for conducting, reciting poetry and, occasionally, even picking up the violin. He once said in an interview with the Dutch Viola Society: “Viola is my mother tongue. That’s what I do. But it is possible to speak other languages, although you may have an accent.
What kind of music does he play?
A champion of 20th century and contemporary music, he has premiered concertos by composers such as Krzysztof Penderecki
, James MacMillan
and Mark Anthony Turnage
– and has a soft spot for 20th-century British composer York Bowen, a leading figure of the early 20th century, whose music fell into disuse after the Second World War. Even during lockdown, Power continued to advocate for new music, commissioning ten short viola pieces, which he then performed, on film, in and around London locations liberated in response to the coronavirus crisis
Where can I hear it?