Meet Theresia: Sophie Simpson

By Emilia Campagna

February 6, 2019

Did you know that the musicians involved in 2018-2019 Theresia’s project are 44, coming from 16 different countries? Fourteen of them are from Italy and eight from Spain, but then we have guys from USA, New Zealand, Switzerland, Russia…

In the “Meet Theresia” posts we introduce them to you: this is Sophie Simpson‘s time. Sophie is a 25 years old violinist from England and has joined Theresia in 2018.

Sophie, tell us about your background studies and your actual activity as a musician.

“I started learning violin at the age of 6 and I loved it straight away. For many years I had lessons and participated in ensembles at my local music centre on Saturdays. When I was 16 I went to a specialist music school called Wells Cathedral School, where I was able to focus on music alongside my academic studies. After that I went to the University of York to study music, which is where my love of historical performance on period instruments began, before completing my Masters degree in modern violin at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Since graduating I have been teaching violin and freelancing as a violinist; last year I was a member of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Experience Scheme and this year I will be a member of the Southbank Sinfonia, based in London. I have also been busy setting up my own new period instrument ensemble: Manchester Baroque. I also enjoy choral singing and hope to set up a choir for instrumentalists soon.”

How did you know about Theresia and when did you join it?

“I heard about Theresia through a friend who had participated previously, and I joined in January 2018.”

What do you like about Theresia project?

“I like working with Theresia because I have met some wonderful musicians with whom I have so much in common, and who inspire me to think and play in different ways. Above all, I have made some great new friends who I hope to remain in contact with forever. Working regularly with the same group of musicians from all over the world is an opportunity I haven’t had through any other ensemble.”

You have worked with Claudio Astronio as a conductor and with Chiara Banchini and Roel Dieltiens as tutors: what have you learned from each of them?

“I have enjoyed working with all the tutors, they each have different advice and experiences to offer. Chiara is so thorough in her approach to rehearsing, Roel encouraged me to always give more of myself in my playing, and Claudio really got the best out of us in an orchestral setting.”

What do you like to do when you are not playing?

“When I’m not playing the violin, I like to bake, watch films, play netball (a popular sport in the UK), and learn French (and Theresia has inspired me also to try learning Italian!)”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

“In five years I would like to be a successful violinist, performing regularly in orchestras and chamber groups. I would like to have a good balance between teaching and playing violin.”

I like working with Theresia because I have met some wonderful musicians with whom I have so much in common, and who inspire me to think and play in different ways.

When it comes to violin players, which are your models? And what about ensembles/orchestras? Which ones do you like more?

“I have never really had one favourite violinist, I try to draw inspiration from musicians around me, so I always look for opportunities to surround myself with musicians I respect and admire. I love watching ensembles where the performers communicate well with each other on stage, and where there is a feeling of chamber music, of inclusivity, even in the biggest symphony orchestras. As a teenager, I always loved watching the Simon Bolivar Orchestra because the players always had so much energy and looked like they were having fun.”

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About Emilia Campagna

Journalist and musician, Emilia is a blogger for Theresia