The GSO monthly Update

Welcome to the GSO monthly update for January

It’s 2020 and the GSO are back rehearsing, plus we find out more about two of the soloists taking part in our Young Artists’ Concert on 25th January.



The Christmas decorations are back in their box, New Year resolutions are being delivered (maybe?) and the routine of 2020 has begun. For the GSO this meant a return to rehearsals in the first week of January and a chance to kick-start the year with the third movement of Brahms’ 4th symphony.  That certainly warmed us up and helped burn off the turkey and Christmas pudding!

It’s a busy time for the orchestra. The Young Artists’ Concert on 25th January is only a few weeks away and just beyond that comes our Spring Concert on 29th March. The music stands are packed full of music and rehearsal time is precious. Every week in January we are joined by one or more of our young soloists and in our first week back we were completely amazed by the brilliance of Ionel Manciu playing the last movement of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. Our Una Clark Young Soloists competition has always attracted a diverse range of talented musicians and this year is no different.

Our five soloists have all recently embarked on their musical careers, but each of them has already achieved some extremely impressive milestones – you can view their individual profiles by clicking here. For our January GSO update we thought it would be interesting to interview two of our musicians – Antonina Suhanova and Lise Vandersmissen. We asked them five questions to find out more about their love of music and their ambitions in life. This is what they told us.

Antonina Suhanova playing Beethoven’s first Piano Concerto

Q: Why did you choose the Beethoven Piano Concerto for your first performance?

A: The idea to perform Beethoven’s 1st concerto came along with Darrell Davison. It is a fantastic piece, full of energy, excitement and youthfulness. It’s an honour to start my 2020 season with a Beethoven concerto when his 250th anniversary is being celebrated worldwide. 

Q: What music do you listen to when you’re not performing?

A: Most of my time I spend with classical music. But from time to time I like to listen to some jazz, R&B and even hip hop. 

Q: What are your most memorable musical experiences?

A: One of the best decisions I made so far was to move to London and study there. It brought me so many opportunities, experience and knowledge. Recollecting all the experiences I had, I can particularly remember the feeling of being on stage at the sold-out Barbican Hall to perform Prokofiev’s 2nd concerto. Another great experience I had was in Latvia when I was performing with the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra. I spent a week rehearsing every single day with the orchestra, and the result was truly unique after having worked so much with the musicians and the conductor. 

Q: What are your main goals and ambitions?

A: I think my main goal for myself is to never stop developing and to always continue learning every day something new, in different aspects of life. And of course, to perform as much as possible and to share my thoughts and emotions with the audience through the music I play. 

Q: What interests do you have away from being a pianist?

A: When I have free time I enjoy swimming. In addition, I also love traveling and taking long walks by the seaside. I grew up in Riga which is very close to the seaside, so every time I go back home I spend time by the sea. Living in London, I enjoy getting out of the City sometimes – taking walks by the coast, particularly in places like Dorset.

“It’s an honour to start my 2020 season with a Beethoven concerto when his 250th anniversary is being celebrated worldwide.”

Lise Vandersmissen playing Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez on the Harp

Q: Why did you choose the Rodrigo for your performance?

A: Concerto de Aranjuez was originally composed for guitar and orchestra. It was Nicanor Zabaleta who transcribed this beautiful piece full of Spanish temperament for the harp. It works well on the harp: the opening chords roll beautifully over the strings and the cantabile melodies suit the instrument very well. I love the drama in this piece – it’s like standing on the hot sand in Spain in the middle of a dramatic love scene.

Q: What’s your favourite music?

A: I really like playing and creating transcriptions for harp. The harp repertoire is relatively limited, and playing transcriptions is a way of playing amazing music, even though it wasn’t originally written for the instrument. I have made a transcription of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, which is now one of my favourite pieces to play.

Q: What are your most memorable musical experiences?

A: I have had so many good experiences, and they have all contributed to the musician I am today. I really can’t choose one that was the best, as they were all equally valuable and important.

Q: What are your main goals and ambitions?

A: I prefer having a varied schedule: performing as a soloist, in chamber groups, orchestras, performing while storytelling, collaborations with artists etc. Ensuring I have a variety of music making experiences make life interesting and keeps me focused.

Q: What interests do you have when you’re not playing the harp?

A: I really like sewing and making clothes. I find that running, swimming or going to the gym is the best relaxation for me.

You can hear and meet all five of our amazing young musicians at our Young Artists’ Concert on Saturday 25th January at 12.30pm. It’s being held in the Auditorium of St Catherine’s School in Bramley, near Guildford, which has always been a popular venue for our audiences. It has ample free parking and a performance space which combines intimacy with great acoustics. You can buy tickets from the GSO Box Office now by clicking on the button below.


We hope to see you on the 25th and Happy New Year from all of us at the GSO!