Meet the musician: Colin Currie

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 12:53

A product of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Colin Currie first came to national prominence when in 1994, he became the first percussionist to reach the finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. Now, an established and celebrated solo percussionist, he is also the founder and leader of The Colin Currie Group, an ensemble dedicated to performing the music of Steve Reich.

Currie has a long association with Southbank Centre, having first become an Artist in Residence here in 2011. Now, an Associate Artist, he was happy to sit down and answer a few questions about what he loves, and would perhaps change, about music, and offer some tips to newcomers to classical concerts.

What do you love about classical concerts?

The sheer range of sounds, colours and emotions. Also, the immense dexterity and skill needed to bring these works to life is an inspiration in itself. Hearing a string quartet, an ensemble or orchestra play ‘as one’ is like nothing else in the world.


What, if anything, would you change about classical concerts?

I would defuse the more formal setting required for concert music with after-show events allowing more proximity to the musicians. Chamber music in the bar, that kind of thing. And of course, a chance to meet the performers and ask questions. 


Hearing a string quartet, an ensemble or orchestra play ‘as one’ is like nothing else in the world
Colin Currie

How does it feel to perform in concert? And, what role does the audience play in the experience for you?

No audience means no concert. The listener is everything to the performer and it is for them that we do our maximum to engage. I always aim to bring the listener close to the music and into the heart of the notes, showing everything I can about the style and purpose of what I’m playing. 


Do you have any top tips for first-time concert goers?

Come with open ears and don’t expect to understand everything you hear. This so-called ‘understanding’ of music is a red herring – I ‘understand’ less and less about music as time goes on, and as it does so, the more magical it becomes.


Can you suggest a piece that a newcomer to classical music might enjoy listening to?

Probably a Beethoven or Stravinsky symphony. Those two composers hit home like no others and their symphonic speeches are extraordinary in their power and beauty.


Colin Currie next appears at Southbank Centre with the JACK Quartet on Saturday 1 February, as part of Southbank Centre’s 2019/20 classical music season.

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