Bermudian violinist performs on BBC Radio 3
“Oh my God, we’re actually doing this!”
This was the thought that kept running through Leidy Sinclair’s mind as she played her violin for BBC Radio 3 yesterday.
The 22-year-old was performing as part of Halcyon Quartet, a group of string players.
“I tried not to think of all the people who were listening around the world but there was a moment when I suddenly thought about it while we were playing,” she said. “I just had to play through the nerves.”
The group performed on an episode of BBC’s Proms Composer Portraits. The show was recorded in a concert hall at the Royal College of Music.
“It was a beautiful space,” Miss Sinclair said. “It was packed.
“The show was for all the people who wanted to learn more about the British composer Hugh Woods. His new work premiered at the Proms later in the evening.”
Halcyon performed the first movement of Mr Woods’s String Quartet No 1.
“The way things were set up, he was sitting behind me the whole time, so that was a little unnerving,” Miss Sinclair said.
“We got to meet him before the performance to gain insight into his work.
“That was exciting because most of the composers we perform are dead. We usually don’t have them there to give us tips.
“He was a lovely person. He told us that he loved young people because they are fearless.”
She thought that was a little funny because she felt quite nervous.
Miss Sinclair is studying violin performance at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She joined Halcyon three years ago, as part of a university project.
“String players were told to stay together for six weeks and perform before a panel of teachers,” she said. “At the end, we were the only group that still wanted to play together.”
Since then, Halcyon has performed frequently at the Academy and at the Halesworth Music Festival in Suffolk, and won the £1,000 Arthur Bliss Prize at the Academy last year. It led to a place in the Davey-Posnanski Scheme, a fast-track programme for young string quartets. The invitation to play for BBC Radio 3 came as a result.
“We received the invitation a few months ago,” Miss Sinclair said. “The lead up to the performance over the past few weeks has been fabulous and chaotic all at once.
“Learning a new composer can be like learning a new language.
“It doesn’t happen to us often, but last Monday, when things got tense, we just had to down tools and head to a pub. We didn’t stay angry long and preparations went very well.”
She said exposure and experience were critical for a young quartet such as theirs.
“It’s hard to receive better exposure and experience then through the Proms and BBC Radio 3,” she said. “We would definitely like to continue playing together. I love London and I love Europe. I hope to make my career in London but it’s impossible to say if it will be permanent.”
Miss Sinclair started playing the violin at the age of 5 at the Bermuda School of Music.
“I had a friend who was learning and watching her play made a big impression on me,” she said. “I especially love the energy and dynamics that come with quartet playing.
“Playing the violin has always been closely connected to my voice and the expression is very freeing.”
For six years from the age of 10, she made weekly trips to Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music.
“I was homeschooled for much of that time,” she said. “With all this travel I probably sacrificed a lot of typical Bermudian childhood experiences.
“At 14, I gave up ballet but I’m making up for it. There is a great ballroom and Latin dancing school near the Academy.”
Her dream is to become a Chamber Music Fellow at the Academy or on one of the young artist development platforms in London.
“My dream would be to one day play with English Chamber Orchestra and Academy of St Martin in the Fields,” she said.
• The BBC Radio 3 show is available at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02wtwgg