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Catherine Mackintosh: Speed Interview

Fri Mar 4 2011

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We're talking Handel's Apollo and Daphne on @BBCInTune after 6pm, with @jamesn103 and Jonathan Cohen. bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00…


Catherine Mackintosh. Credit: Joe PlommerCatherine Mackintosh, an OAE violinist and ex leader, will be taking part in our The other amazing Mr Bach study day tomorrow, playing and talking about CPE Bach’s Trio Sonata Sanguineas and Melancholius. Here’s our speed interview with her:

What/when was your big breakthrough?
My breakthroughs have been many but small.  A very early one was playing the One Note in Purcell’s Fantasy of that name with the members of the Melos Ensemble as a teenager. Emmanuel Hurwitz was then very helpful to me. Becoming leader of the Academy of Ancient Music in 1973 was also a huge career step for me.

What do you fear the most?
Snakes, without a doubt and anything bad happening to my family. Not too keen on the idea of death either.

Which mobile number do you call the most?
As my husband hardly ever uses his mobile, I expect it’s Philippa’s (OAE Orchestra Manager).

What – or where – is perfection?
I have never been in pursuit of it actually because, if it exists, or is discovered, it is all the more astonishing for being unsought.  Sitting in front of a roaring log fire in our house in France comes pretty close I must admit.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?
Aunt Dahlia from the works of PG Wodehouse. She is described by her nephew, Bertie Wooster as “a festive old bird” and now I have reached a certain age, I cannot imagine a better state to emulate.

What’s your favourite ritual?
I am not a devout Christian but I love Choral Evensong in a Cathedral with a good choir and recently happened on one in Sheffield just before our concert there.

Which living person do you most admire (and why)?
I met a wonderful nun, Sister Patricia, in Palestine’s Bethlehem University who ran the music department there. She embodied everything I admire; calm, cheerful, dedicated, humorous, sympathetic, intelligent, enthusiastic… I think you get the gist of this lovely person.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?
I would like to be a book-binder. I realise with horror that with internet, books are in danger of becoming extinct, but few can resist the charm and feel of a beautifully bound book.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That I am not the only pebble on the beach.

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?
This goes in phases. At the moment I would say Miles Davis. I must confess I don’t listen to much recorded classical music as I prefer to play it!

What’s the best thing about working with the OAE?
We can never be complacent when always challenged by new ideas from our different conductors and leaders. I feel immensely privileged to work with this orchestra and continue to learn something every time.

Our study day is tomorrow at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room at 10.30am and 2pm. Tickets

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