The Violin Channel recently caught up with British cellist and newly-appointed University of Oxford Director of Musical Performance and Artist-in-Residence, Natalie Clein.
In a VC-exclusive blog, the 38 year old shares with us how this prestigious opportunity came her way – and what she hopes to achieve during her 4-year placement.
“It’s been tremendously exciting to me personally to take up the positions of Director of Musical Performance and Artist-in-Residence at Oxford. The city and the university have long held a special place in my imagination and it’s incredible to have the Holywell Music Room – the oldest purpose built concert hall in Europe, built in 1748) – and the Christopher Wren masterpiece Sheldonian Theatre less than 5 mins walk apart. If buildings can inspire,then Oxford really is an inspiration!
The position itself is a new one – hopefully I’ll just be the first in a long line of Directors of Musical Performance at Oxford – and it will run for four years. The job serves both a curatorial and pedagogical purpose. So I’m now deeply involved both in giving masterclasses and in programming a series of concerts and lectures at the university. I’m glad to say my job description is also a bit open-ended. It includes developing new artistic projects and working with students.
Ultimately, what I’d really like to accomplish during my appointment is to bring students, professional artists and academics together from different disciplines to generate a lively dialogue. I hope to encourage risk-taking and a strong sense of discovery among the students. Part of this process will involve bringing a series of international creative artists to Oxford to discuss their insights into the nature of creativity and inspiration, as well as to perform … and demonstrate just how they turn their ideas, their knowledge and their skill into art.
Beginning this Autumn, a major Bach project that we’ve organized will get under way. I’m particularly interested in the dialogue between historical performance and modernity. Shortly before accepting the Oxford position, I performed all 6 Bach suites at the Sheldonian so perhaps a this is a selfish wish to ask many questions about Bach I’ve longed to ask! We’ve also begun to schedule a series of visits from contemporary composers. During my time at Oxford, I will be continuing my solo commitments (of course!) and I’ll also be performing in several concerts at the university. These will include a recital on June 1st that will present a selection of pieces by Debussy, Kodály, Kurtág, Britten and Prokofiev, a programme in some ways also inspired by the idea of Dialogue. I’ll be joined for the occasion by Christian Ihle Hadland who will be one of the first of my wonderful colleagues to also give a masterclass at the university.
Although I am just settling into my new role at Oxford, things are already shaping up to be everything I hoped they might be. A performer should always be questioning what they do and why they do it and I feel excited and grateful to have with this new position an excuse to ask even more questions, from new angles and to see what will emerge!