‘I adore music and am determined to make a life out of it’

What do you do?

musician

Would you describe what you do as creative? If so, how?

Yes. While I am mostly performing music written by other people, there are so many interpretative decisions to be made that require creative freedom. I feel the best musical performances occur when the musicians are choosing to sing/play in a certain way at every moment, rather than following the score as a set of instructions. By all means a singer performing a crescendo written in the score, for example, can be compelling, but only if the singer is choosing and believing in that musical gesture — finding an emotional impulse in themselves. I am always aiming towards this creative autonomy and emotional authenticity, which I feel is a lifelong effort but overwhelmingly worth it when it happens!

In a couple of sentences, can you describe your daily routine?

Every day is different! The constants I try for are to be in bed reading and winding down by 10, and to listen to a new piece of music every day. I eat porridge with banana most mornings and try to divide the day into three sections (morning, afternoon, evening) and spend two of them working either at home or rehearsing and the other one doing something else, with the occasional exercise attempt thrown in.

What do you read/see/listen to, to inspire yourself?

Ever since I was very small I have been constantly introduced to new pieces of cinema by my dad. I have watched many films with him that may have been uncomfortable or even slow to watch but have stayed in my mind long after the closing credits, such as Lars Von Trier’s Breaking the Waves, which kept me feeling and thinking for many years. In essence I like stories (novels, books, or films) that contain emotional truths but don’t foreground them as an artistic agenda — that remain open so you keep asking questions. I really struggle to read long non-fiction books, because I don't know what to do with answers!

Who inspires you, and why?

People who don’t bother with small fears and who know how to relax and have fun. These people know how to get out of their mind, which I think is the key to creativity, and are just a joy to be around!

Where and when do you find you work best?

Most places in the summertime, and definitely not on public transport.

On a daily basis, how do you set yourself up to succeed?

Try to do everything I do with the feeling that it was an active choice, including things like getting up early. I am so lucky that this is probably mostly true. Getting to sleep in good time also makes everything better.

What motivates you to be a musician?

I adore music and am determined to make a life out of it, but strangely I don’t feel like it is the only creative field I could have entered into or was in any way meant to be. I feel like I stumbled upon music but it could have been any other creative discipline. I do love that music (particularly singing) combines the telling of stories involving some tangible meanings with the abstract beauty of sound and harmony. I wear my heart on my sleeve and perhaps something about singing my heart out attracted me to it. But I find when I am making anything I get a glimpse of a very peaceful feeling. 

Do you take inspiration from other people in your field, and if so, how?

Absolutely and all the time. I was listening to a Steven Isserlis recording of Hadyn’s D major Cello Concerto yesterday and was completely in awe of the way he made me hear the cello as a human communicating expressively, naturally, and spontaneously. I am most inspired when musicians can find something spontaneous in something that requires so much preparation, so that you hear it as a moment of genuine expression. 

What constitutes as your 'creative infrastructure'?

This doesn’t sound particularly creative but my diary is the most important part of my creative structure. I write everything in there - thoughts about certain pieces, ideas, to-do lists. Having everything I need to refer to in one place helps me structure my efforts. I find spotify so useful when getting my daily dose of a new work to get familiar with, as it would be prohibitively expensive to try to do this through buying recordings. For the rest I am fairly flexible although I like to practice in a room with lots of natural light as it helps me stay positive, even when something is a challenge.

Find out about Gabriella’s work at https://gabriellanoble.com/.