Ahead of her performance at SOLO 08, we caught up with violinist Rakhi Singh to chat about putting together eclectic setlists, her work as a composer and the music she’s listening to at the moment.
First up, could you tell us a bit about how you came to play the violin and what it was that drew you to it?
I don’t actually remember picking up a violin for the first time as my mother is a teacher and there were always violins around the house. I guess it was sort of inevitable.
For SOLO 08, you’ve put together a typically eclectic setlist taking in everything from J S Bach and Igor Stravinsky to Kaija Saariaho and Oliver Coates. What is it about playing such a range of music together that excites you and what do you look for when you’re seeking out new repertoire for a gig?
I enjoy finding connections between things that on first glance may not appear to relate to each other. It’s much like making my own tasting menu, placing contrasting flavours alongside each other enhances the elements but you can also find relationships between different dishes and create an arc over the whole meal.
A lot of your work revolves around new music and collaborating directly with composers. How do you approach working on a new piece that’s never been heard before compared to an existing work?
I approach new works the same way I work on old, but without being able to refer to different recordings – that’s not always a bad thing! Searching for the story inside the music or the soundworld that makes sense to me and what am I saying through it.
Your collaborations with Vessel on Written in Fire and Paradise Lost have seen you take on the role of both composer and performer. What do you enjoy most about working in this way and how does it feel to perform your own work compared to someone else’s?
It’s terrifying performing one’s own work! I take my hat off to all composers. I love collaborating and it’s increasingly becoming an important part of my work, however, I did realise that performance takes on a whole new meaning and vulnerability when there is that extra bit of myself in it.
Finally, what tracks do you currently have on repeat?
At the moment, I’m loving pianist and multi-instrumentalist Fred Thomas’ recording of J S Bach’s Dance Suites, Stonechild by Jessica Hoop, Georg Frederich Haas’ String Quartet No. 2, bless ur heart by serpentwithfeet and the soundtrack to You Were Never Really Here by Jonny Greenwood.
Catch Rakhi performing an intimate and eclectic set at CLF Art Café on Thursday 26 March including the world premières of works by Alex Groves and Emily Hall – more info & tickets are available at thisissolo.co.uk
SOLO is made possible thanks to the generous support of Arts Council England, PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund and the Marchus Trust.