#MiddayMusic presents Meera Raja (cello) and Alix Lagasse (violin)
This week our Young Artists Meera Raja (cello) and Alix Lagasse (violin) performed for #MiddayMusic. You can read our exclusive interviews with them and watch their videos below. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to catch all our upcoming videos, or watch our exclusive playlist.
Multi-award winning cellist, Meera Raja, holds the Company’s RCM Lambert Studentship 2018 & 2019. She has performed at major concert halls globally and in West End musicals Bend it like Beckham and Beyond the Fence. Meera also performed as a solo cellist in a touring theatre production of E.M. Forster’s novel A Passage to India. Here she tells us what she’s been up to in recent months.
“I have used my extra time to explore new repertoire while continuing to teach my cello students online. I also set up two successful online cello courses that I hope to organise again in the future. At the beginning of the first lockdown, I was preparing for my final exams in order to complete my Master’s degree at the RCM. I was also asked to record a track for a newly released album, Essence of Raga Tala, where the ragas and talas are reimagined for both Indian traditional and western instruments. The album was released in August and was a highlight for me during these challenging times. More recently, I performed at the London Palladium for two shows of Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World. It was an incredible atmosphere and brought back the joy of performing to a live audience.
Looking ahead, I have a few recording sessions lined up. I have been fortunate to perform in the cello section of Chineke! Orchestra – Europe’s first majority-Black, Asian and ethnically diverse orchestra. We performed at the Royal Festival Hall for a behind-closed-doors concert and are due to perform again in November. Lockdown has also given me the chance to explore different creative outlets. I recently established a small handmade jewellery business, ‘Not so Perfect Jewellery’.
Learning lesser-known works for solo cello is another passion of mine. As such, I am grateful to the Musician’s Company for giving me the opportunity to share the piece, ‘Sannyasin’ by John Mayer, with you. Sannyasin refers in Hinduism to religious ascetics who renounce the world by abandoning all claims to social or family standing. In a way, this made me think of our time in lockdown where we were forced to abandon social contact rather than choosing to do so. By exploring this piece, it gave me a deeper understanding of positive discovery and fulfilment in my own company.”
You can find out more about Meera on Instagram @meera_priyanka_cello
Musicians’ Company yeoman, violinist Alix Lagasse, has been learning the art of relaxation during lockdown. Here she tells us what else she’s been up to during the last few months and her choice of music for the #MiddayMusic concert.
“I love working, and I’m always challenging myself, but if lockdown has taught me anything it’s that it’s ok to slow down and not be productive all the time!
In-between learning to just “be” and not always “do” I’ve had the fortune to continue working. I have a big class of students at the RCM Junior Department and a couple of private students in London that I teach. Working with them on a weekly basis has really helped me keep a routine going. I also enjoy playing and recording duets with my partner who is also a violinist.
I’m very lucky that the London Symphony Orchestra I’m a member of has been back to work since the end of August, and we have been playing weekly concerts, albeit slightly different ones to those we’re used to, with masks, distancing and no audience. It is so nice to see my colleagues though and make music together. Even through this current lockdown we can continue to perform so we definitely all feel very grateful.
For my #MiddayMay music concert I chose to perform Brahms Violin Sonata No. 1 in G major, which is one of my all-time favourite chamber music works for violin and piano. I thought it would be nice to see if pianist Maria Tarasewiz and I could do a little home recording of it while we were allowed to see each other! In the meantime, the rules have changed again and we no longer can so this recording is also a nice souvenir for us. Maria recently gave birth to her first baby son, Theodore, and I think you can hear him cooing in the background as he was our audience for this home performance!