Q&A with Andrew Leathwick (Wilma & Friends)

Monday, 25 September 2017

Every year Wilma Smith, celebrated kiwi violinist, puts together three different groups of musical friends she thinks might create some exciting chemistry and they put together programmes full of variety and appeal, from premieres to revered masterpieces and undiscovered gems from every musical era.



How did you come to writing your own music?

Composing, and improvising too, are activities that I’ve always naturally associated with playing the piano. There was a piano in our home for as long as I can remember, and before I started piano lessons I was fiddling around on the piano, making my own little melodies. 


Did you enter the Secondary Schools Chamber Music Contest?

Yes I did! I was in a group in 2008, playing Rachmaninov’s Trio Elegiaque No. 1, and we made the finals. That group was what I would call my first real experience of chamber music.


What is it about Chamber Music that you find particularly satisfying?

It’s nice having others on stage to create energy with you. It doesn’t all rest on your shoulders, but instead you can spur one another on, and get into a good groove together.


Which piece are you currently most excited about playing on tour?

I would say most certainly my own! It’s been quite a while since I’ve performed any compositions that are for more than just solo piano. It’s been thoroughly satisfying and I can’t wait to finally get out on stage and play it.


Beethoven – listeners will be familiar with this piece but in a different form. Have you played this version before?

Never before. This is the quartet I was least familiar with before the tour.


Walton – Much of his music was branded as a little old fashioned when written in the mid twentieth century but has found great appeal with lovers of lyrical and impassioned music. How would you describe this music.

It has endured, which is quite something, and shows that on its own relevance to contemporary fashion is a poor measure on whether a work will endure to future generations. Which probably also says something about how we should listen to music. I came across this work years ago, when some friends at Waikato Uni played it. I was struck by the last movement, and now, happily, I’m finally playing it!


Touring 24 Sep - 15 Oct. Find out more here.