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David La Page

David La Page – Violin

Born in Guernsey, David began playing the violin at the age of seven.

“I was encouraged to improvise by my father from the first moment I picked up the violin. There was an immediate understanding of how the instrument worked and I clearly recall playing along to recordings of Grappelli, Bach, Brubeck, Bruch and Mendelssohn. There was no mystery to me. That came later. There were years when I forgot how important the freedom to improvise was and it was slightly frowned upon by some of my teachers in the Classical world. It helps me write and puts me back in touch with my most natural way of playing and making music.”

At the age of twelve David was sent to the Yehudi Menuhin School where he came into contact with a broad range of musical personalities.

“As well as receiving tuition from a number of high profile visiting teachers just being surrounded by fellow  students who played so well was probably the biggest influence on me at that time.”

After a short period of study in Switzerland with Igor Ozim he returned to England, aged nineteen, and began working with chamber groups, orchestras, in musical theatre and as a soloist.

“Although I didn’t know  it, this was my real musical education. I was aimless and I wasn’t ready but I learnt on the job. When I was at school the emphasis was on being good young but I gradually began to realise that it was ok to develop at your own pace. To keep on developing is the important thing. It’s only in the last 10 years that I’ve really begun to play and write the way I want to. This is because I understand it now  in a way that I didn’t in my 20’s. It was instinctive then but a bit ‘hit or miss’. Now I know where I’m going.”

David has worked with a diverse selection of artists and ensembles including Keith Tippett, Michael Tippett, John Woolrich, Nicholas Daniel, Thomas Ades, Roger Eno, Billy Jenkins, Harvey Brough, The Gogmagogs, Errolyn Wallen, Huw Watkins, David Gordon, Matthew Sharp, Chroma, Continuum, James, Joe Duddell, Composers Ensemble and many more.

He formed his own groups, the Le Page Ensemble, Subway Piranhas and most recently The Harborough Collective. David is the Artistic Director of Harborough Concerts presenting around 25 concerts a year in Market Harborough alone. He is leader of Stratford-upon-Avon’s highly acclaimed Orchestra of the Swan and in 2013 was invited to become president of European String Teacher’s Association following on from Yehudi Menuhin, Steven Isserlis and Tasmin Little.

Composing and arranging has always been part of his musical identity.

“The idea of the composer/performer has fallen out of fashion, at least in the Classical world which I think is a shame. It had a healthy profile from the Baroque period through to the Late-Romantic era but fell out of favour during the 20th century for some reason. It’s important to realise that the music you compose is going to have to communicate directly with an audience. I’m always aware of this when I write. It’s not about trying to please an audience but it is about reaching out and striving to present a worthwhile and unforgettable experience.”

“In terms of my music there are some obvious influences. There’s an undeniably baroque flavour which sits comfortably, I think, with my Pop and Minimalist tendencies. Spilling out over the top is this quite ‘Romantic’ sounding violin which seems to permeate much of what I write. It’s fascinating to me that during the last 6 or 7 years my early Blues influences have been forcing their way through into the mix. I used to try and suppress the urge to include that colour but now I’m welcoming of its presence.”

“Being invited to become president of the European String Teacher’s Association has made me consider more deeply the role of  educator and pupil and how important it is to not lose sight of the fundamental reasons why we perform at all. A question I almost always ask my students is this: ‘Why are you doing this?’ Quite often they don’t have an answer beyond the notion of wanting to play an instrument. In answer to my own question I would say that I’m wanting to communicate and reach out to people in a way that you can’t in everyday life. As an artist I’m aiming to alter lives for a moment or sometimes even longer. The violin is a tool, a way to achieve all of this. The best performances happen when you forget you are playing the violin and the instrument becomes a voice, a simple, direct way of touching forgotten areas of the soul. That’s why Art is so important. It leads us to places we don’t go to in our normal lives. To attempt this you have to risk everything. You have to put yourself on the line and not be afraid of failure.”