Claire Sledd
Violin

IMG_9793_Claire SleddViolinist Claire moved to England from her hometown of Bremerton, USA on a music scholarship at the age of 16. After completing studies at Wellington College and the Royal College of Music’s Junior Department in 2008, Claire attended the Royal Academy of Music, completing her master’s with distinction in 2014. In 2015, Claire achieved a Postgraduate Advanced Diploma with distinction at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, where she studied with Ofer Falk.

During her studies, Claire enjoyed working with esteemed musicians including Maxim Vengerov, Sir Mark Elder and Sir Simon Rattle, and has since gone on to work with orchestras across London and Europe, including London Sinfonietta, United Strings of Europe and Multi-Story Orchestra. Claire has played as co-leader in Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of London, Arch Sinfonia and with Ensemble Eroica.

Claire is a founding member of the Engines Orchestra, an innovative jazz orchestra which recently won the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Ensemble of the Year for their debut album, Lifecycles. Other recordings include Franck and Bazzini for the Crescendo! series and the 2014 Charity Single Steadfast for Classic FM.

As a soloist, Claire has performed with London Chameleon Arts Orchestra, Bremerton Symphony Orchestra, Reading Symphony Orchestra and given solo and chamber recitals in venues including St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Cadogan Hall, and Wigmore Hall. Recently, Claire has enjoyed a series of solo performances with Torbay Symphony Orchestra. Claire’s solo awards in Europe include Reading Symphony Young Musician of the Year, and prizes in the Windsor and Maidenhead, Peter Morrison, and Schlern International Music Festival competitions.

In Seattle, Claire is a featured artist at the Daniels Recital Hall and can often be found busking at Pike Place Market with her dog, Quest.

Claire’s place in Southbank Sinfonia is generously supported by Parliament Choir.

Q&A

What is your favourite piece of music, and why do you love it?
It’s practically impossible to choose just one! Every work has a different type of appeal, and it’s very hard to compare between eras, genres, etc. But since I have to choose, I would say Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht. I was fascinated the first time I heard it, and love it even more whenever I listen again. Aside from being harmonically advanced for its time and beautifully scored (both the sextet and orchestral versions), it’s an incredible depiction of the range of human emotion. Within half an hour it swings from despair to hope, from anguish to transcendent peace. It just speaks to me on every level.

What do you do with your time when you’re not playing music?
I read a lot, mostly fiction — I love a good satirical novel, and for escapism there’s nothing like a dose of magical realism. Hiking was a huge part of my life growing up and every time I visit my family in the Pacific Northwest we head up into the mountains. I’m also a keen (though certainly not Bake-Off standard) baker; my friends and I like trying to one-up each other in creating birthday treats. I think the current winner is a 3-tier pear, chocolate and ginger cake that they made for me, it was heaven on a plate — but I’m already experimenting to find something even more delicious for my flatmate’s next birthday!

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us
I’m absolutely terrified of cows. Seriously. I love animals and grew up with big dogs (and a disturbingly bloodthirsty cat) but somehow cute sleepy cows make me shiver in fear. I blame it on an incident when I was hiking in Dartmoor and the trail led through a cattle herd; they did not take kindly to an interloper and I ended up vaulting several fences and hiding in the trees.

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Claire tells us about her favourite string quartet…

Meet the rest of the orchestra