PerformerUpClose: Alison Holford

Cellist Alyson Holford
OperaUpClose performing credits: CarmenLa Traviata, Tosca, Dido & Aeneas

Tell us a bit about your career!
Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I always knew that it would be the only way I wanted to earn a living. I perform and teach the 'cello and piano in a massive variety of places. I've played the 'cello for a Bollywood superstar to an audience of 5,000, I've played chamber music in the Purcell Room and been a solo 'cellist for Opera Up Close in Tosca, La Traviata and Dido and Aeneas. One thing I can say is that it doesn't get boring!

How did you get into opera? 
I have to thank Opera de Bauge for this. I've played for the company for eleven years and have played some fantastic works and met some incredible singers. It was through them that I met Elspeth Wilkes, an OUC musical director and opera coach and things went from there really!

What is your favourite part of the job?
It has to be playing music by some of the greatest composers that have ever lived and making music with other people. Music has the power to reach out and touch people's emotions - being a part of this is just magical.

And your least favourite part?
The erratic nature of performance work and antisocial hours sometimes make it hard to see friends and family. Musicians know that they have to sacrifice a lot of time that other people take for granted and it's hard work.

What's the best thing I've seen in 2015? 
The best thing I've seen was actually something that I was playing in actually! St. Paul's Sinfonia, the orchestra I play with, celebrated our tenth anniversary in April and Guy Johnston, the 'cellist was playing Shostakovich first 'cello concerto with us. The orchestra falls silent in the third movement and the 'cello plays an amazing ten minute cadenza. The whole hall held its breath and to be sat thatclose to him was pretty amazing.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I'd like more of the same really! I'd like smaller projects to recieve more funding so they can really branch out. I've got lots of chamber music in the pipeline so that should be good.

What was your favourite OUC production to work on?
I've really enjoyed them all, to be honest. Each of the three productions that I've been involved in has taken me to new places and I've met some fantastic people. The blue eyeshadow for Tosca was quite special though!

Funniest musical experience?
There are too many to tell you! I will share a secret with you though- don't sit on the front desk of the 'cellos in orchestra if your conductor has a perspiration problem. 

What is an essential quality in a director or composer?
My favourite quality in a composer/ director is the ability to relate to other people. A genuine person with genuine passion will always be share their vision with others.