Samling Shorts with James Baillieu

Pianist James Baillieu was a Samling Artist in 2009 and 2010 and has since returned as a leader for Samling Artist Programme and Samling Academy. He is one of the world’s leading collaborative pianists, praised for his sensitivity and imagination in performances with leading singers and instrumentalists. In June 2020 he will be among the first group of musicians to return to UK concert halls when he takes part in Wigmore Hall’s special series of lunchtime concerts to be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

My last live performance was …

In Mold in Wales with the brilliant saxophonist Jess Gillam, the day before the UK was locked down.

The last piece of music I watched online was …

Lise Davidsen singing Alban Berg, ‘Sieben frühe Lieder’ live with members of the Oslo Philharmonic in a reduced chamber arrangement and performed in a socially distant manner!

If I could be locked down with any musical figure from history, it would be …

Schubert. I would be fascinated to understand his composing process and to see what he would make of the world today and especially Covid19 – I imagine he would compose something amazing in response to it. I also have read that he was very good value at parties, so we would have fun too!

My biggest quarantine challenge has been …

Trying to find and stick to a routine.

The first thing I’ll do when lockdown ends is …

Get a haircut!

My advice to Samling Academy Singers at this time is …

Set yourself small and manageable daily goals. This could be learning a bar of a song, or a verse of text or even listening to three different recordings of a piece you are learning and discovering what interests you (or not) about various performances. I was reminded the other day that Beethoven composed in a time of constant war and struggle, and never really knew peace time. I found that inspiring and think of him as I challenge myself to be as creative as possible and continue working as hard as I can.

Image: James Baillieu with Samling Artist staff pianist Somi Kim at Samling Artist Programme Masterclass, November 2019, photo credit Mark Pinder.