On Friday 6 May 'one of the greatest oboists of our time', Nicholas Daniel, graces the stage at LSO St Luke's as part of the Artist Spotlight series in partnership with BBC Radio 3. We recently spoke to him about his early life as a musician, curating the music in the concert and his relationship with recital partner, pianist Huw Watkins.
When did you start playing the oboe, and what made you choose that instrument?
I didn’t choose it! I sang as a choirboy at Hitchin Church then Salisbury Cathedral, a huge privilege and a great training. In order to be at Salisbury I had to play two instruments, and my Granny told my Mum I had to play the oboe. I have no idea why and it had to be explained to my Mum what it was!
How do the pieces in this concert showcase the different capabilities of your instrument?
Song, singing and folk music are a part of this programme. Huw’s pieces are folksongs, taken from a book of his mother’s; the Bush pieces are virtuosic and highly expressive music, written equally for Northumbrian pipes and oboe; Poulenc’s Sonata is quite like a song cycle in some ways, the instrument used both dramatically and vocally; and Helen Grime’s exquisite miniatures go from deeply rich songs to machinery and clockwork. The oboe is a kind of machine, after all, with springs and levers and corks.
Can you tell us about your collaboration with Huw Watkins? Do you regularly work together?
Huw has been a dear and important friend to me for decades. I first met him at Aldeburgh when he was 16, and after that we played together a lot and he wrote for me. I have a dear hope that one day he will write a concerto for me. Playing with him is an incredible joy as he never has a problem playing anything you put in front of him, so the rehearsals are all about musical shape and line. We also share a love of a good flat white and a glass of wine, though at different ends of the day.
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: NICHOLAS DANIEL
Friday 6 May 1pm
Alan Bush Northumbrian Impressions
Robert Schumann arr Howard Ferguson Three Canonic Studies
Helen Grime Three Miniatures
Huw Watkins Five Welsh Folksongs (London premiere)
Francis Poulenc Oboe Sonata
Nicholas Daniel oboe
Huw Watkins piano
Tickets: £15 (£13 concessions, £5 under-18s)
Find out what's coming up in the Artist Spotlight series here
Recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3