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

Thoroughly Good Classical Music Podcast Ep 39 – Violinist Itamar Zorman discusses the music of composer Paul Ben-Haim

Podcast 39 features Borlotti-Buitoni Trust Award winner from 2014 violinist Itamar Zorman. We met at the Southbank Centre in London in late March 2019.

Itamar was born in Tel-Aviv, studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music, Julliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. He’s performed with the Mariinsky Orchestra, German Radio Philharmonic, KBS Symphony in Seoul and the HR SinfonieOrchester in Frankfurt, and in a variety of international concert venues. Find out more at

The Borlotti-Buitoni Trust’s award supports Itamar and other musicians like him in raising his professional profile and in turned helped Itamar research the work of composer Paul Frankenberger who fled Germany during the Nazi regime and moved to British Mandate of Palestine in 1930s. There he assumed the name of Paul Ben-Haim and continued composing. The CD released at the beginning of May reflects Itamar’s ongoing fascination of the Jewish composer and illustrates the way in which the composer’s musical language changed over his career.

When the perception of a distant lands merges with familiar language and a blend of accents the resulting conversation something unusual occurs for me as a listener.

When the rhythm of that conversation takes unexpected turns then attention increases. There is then something almost musical in this conversation. A dialogue of the kind I’ve not experienced before in this podcast series.

I listen to this podcast back in the edit and hear a man who thinks carefully before he speaks. I like that. We don’t do that enough in our everyday exchanges with one another. We don’t allow ourselves the time to consider what the person has said and how we can best respond.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for a moment my contribution to this conversation with violinist Itamar Zorman about his release of music by Paul Ben-Haim is especially fascinating. It’s the moments in between what I say and how he replies that hook me in, moments that forces me to lean in and focus.

Expect lots of delightfully nerdy detail.

Thoroughly Good Podcast Series 5 Ep 32 – Fretwork’s Richard Boothby and Kieran Cooper

Podcast 32 spotlights a new release on Signum Classics entitled ‘If’.

It’s the latest release by consort of viols Fretwork, and celebrates the 75th birthday of composer Michael Nyman pairing a collection of contemporary works arranged for the consort with music by Henry Purcell.

The album is out on 22nd March 2019. Pre-order here