Thoroughly Good Classical Music Podcast Ep 40 – Cellist, composer and conductor Joy Lisney

Podcast 40 features an interview with cellist Joy Lisney who appears at the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre, on 8th June in a recital of Bach, Chopin and Brahms with her piano playing father James Lisney.

Joy is no sloucher, it strikes me. She composes. She conducts. She cycles. A lot.

Perhaps that shouldn’t have surprised me in the way that it did initially. Because there’s a down-to-earthness about that range of activites which I find quite refreshing. Whilst I have no intention or remaining time available to squeeze in an early morning run (well, its probably down to motivation more than anything else), I like the way that activities which are seemingly at odds with our perception of an individual’s work or identity, actually compliment a musicians life – pointing to something far more holistic.

There’s another thing worth noting about this conversation which has slowly dawned on me listening back to it and others I’ve recorded since this one. It is the unease around discussing detail in classical music – and actually any subject. I often sense I need to give permission to a contributor to go a little deeper into the detail too. At the same time as giving that permission I recognise I’m experiencing a kind of imposter syndrome, perhaps even a nosiness, asking. But as someone who loves the genre, I always want more and more detail. Because by appreciating more and more the finer detail of what’s involved, then I can arrive at a deeper understanding of the art.

Expect detail on sound production, Joy’s compositional process, her take on female composers (including the questions not to ask a female composer – you;ll be glad to hear I didn’t slip up by the way), and some valuable insights into the role of a conductor, and the way they sometimes need to communicate to players.

Music: Vriend’s ‘Anatomy of Passion‘ performed live by Joy Lisney in 2004.

More information about Joy’s 8th June concert can be found on the Southbank Centre website or at

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