Sophie Williams | Southbank SinfoniaSophie Williams
Cello

Sophie  is from Wellington, New Zealand, and began cello lessons at the age of nine. She completed a Bachelor of Music with first class honours at the University of Auckland, where she was the recipient of the Swedlund Bursary scholarship, the University Chamber Music scholarship, String scholarship and the Auckland Centennial scholarship for performance.

In her final undergraduate year, Sophie was a member of the winning trio in both the Auckland Chamber Music Society competition and the Pettman Royal Over-Seas League Arts Competition, winning a five-week concert tour of the UK including performances at St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Edinburgh Festival.

Majoring in string quartet, Sophie went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma at the New Zealand School of Music and in January 2013 formed the Quadrivium Quartet for the Adam International Chamber Music Festival in Nelson. This quartet was a guest ensemble at the Canberra International Music Festival in May 2013 and, on invitation by the Penderecki String Quartet, travelled to Canada to perform and study with the Penderecki Quartet and Lafayette Quartet for four weeks. Quartet playing has also seen Sophie tour with New Zealand artist Dudley Benson, to Tonga to perform for the royal family and across the Pacific as a cruise ship entertainer.

Sophie’s orchestral experience began in the Auckland Youth Orchestra and the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra. She has regularly performed with New Zealand regional orchestras Opus Orchestra, Hawkes Bay Orchestra and Orchestra Wellington and was a full-time player with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra across the 2014 season.

Before moving to London to join Southbank Sinfonia, Sophie spent two months living and freelancing in Bern, Switzerland.

Sophie’s place in Southbank Sinfonia is generously supported by Elman Poole. 

Q&A

What do you love about classical music?
I love that it tells a story and is such a personal expression of ideas. To perform a piece of classical music is to get inside the mind, emotions and inspirations of the composer and to have the privilege of conveying these while bringing something of your own interpretation and personality to the music.

What’s on your playlist right now?
120 German language audio lessons! Before coming to London to join Southbank Sinfonia, I spent two months in Bern, Switzerland and took the opportunity to start learning a little bit of German.

What is your most amusing musical moment?
A few years ago now, I had the opportunity to travel to Tonga with a string quartet, to perform for King George Tupou V on his 60th birthday. Having never been to Tonga, I was coached before the trip on the cultural etiquette; never wear bare shoulders, always use the title ‘Your Majesty’ and never refuse a royal request. The night before the concert, His Majesty met me and told me he had received a double bass as a birthday gift the year before. He went on to request that I perform the concert the following night on his double bass. I panicked, but of course agreed with a polite “yes, Your Majesty”. I had a few hours to learn the solo line to Bach’s Air on a G String and Saint-Saens’ The Swan! I’ve never been more nervous in a performance than I was that next night. To my disbelief, not only did the king cry tears of happiness but the concert was being televised live!

 

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