Q & A with Ellipsis

Why are you called Ellipsis?

Susanna: We thought long and hard about a name for the group. More than anything else, we really liked the ‘sound’ and rhythm of ellipsis as it rolls off the tongue, but then more specifically, it implies that there is more to come… so if we invited a singer or other musicians to join us in a concert it adds to the trio that is already there. Dot dot dot is the core group, but leaves us open to other combinations. I also like the feel that even when a concert if finished, there is more to follow, so keep in touch with us!

Tell us about what you’ll be doing at The Forge.

Susanna: We’ll be performing a pot-pourri of repertoire for flute, oboe and piano – a varied programme – there should be something for everyone. For those who enjoy baroque music, there’ll be a couple of trio sonatas, there’s some sensual French woodwind music for those who want to be transported to the balmy, amiable and sophisticated ‘belle vie’ of France, and for those whose ears are open to the flavour of something new there is a world premiere by a local composer to add the final seasoning to the pot.

Your concert includes the premiere of a new work by composer Caroline Heslop. Is new music important to you?

Susanna: Yes – although there are a number of trios for our combination, we’re always on the lookout for new and exciting pieces to play. I’ve had experience of working with living composers as part of my job at the Royal Opera House, and there is nothing more rewarding than being the first to take those notes off the page, with the composer right there to help!

Mel: I love to commission new music all the time – whether for solo oboe or for ensembles; my quintet has recorded a CD of John Woolrich’s music, and Martin Butler is next on the list, both including new works they’ve written for us. One of the great delights of moving to Kentish Town has been discovering the wonderful sense of community and the number of musicians living there; and then finding that I have a composer living next door just topped it all, so I am absolutely delighted that Caroline is writing a new work for us.

We’re looking forward to the special wine tasting before your concert by sommelier Frederica Zanghirella! What do you like listen to with a glass of wine in the evenings?

Mel: Yo Yo Ma playing Bach Cello Suites with a really beautiful, classic red from Bordeaux – a St Emilion or St Julien perhaps if I’m feeling a bit extravagent; or a crisp, pale Provencale rose with a bit of Ravel – or something a bit sparkly with Norah Jones or Corinne Bailey Rae – depends how much classical music I’ve been playing or listening to already during the day.

Susanna: I have a wine refrigerator in my flat and really enjoy filling it with a variety of bottles to explore at my leisure. The other evening I enjoyed listening to the Bach Motets with a glass of rioja – but most evenings my preference would be a crisp suavignon blanc with some jazz on – perhaps Stacey Kent, Melody Gardot or Liane Carroll.

What do you like about performing at The Forge?

Susanna: It has an intimate feel which suits chamber music perfectly. I also like the fact people can book end our performance with an aperitif and supper – so the entertainment is the luxurious meat in a very tasty sandwich!

Melanie: Our quintet played there a while ago, and were so struck by its intimacy; and so many musicians and music lovers are ‘foodies’ so the combination of good food, good wine and good music is just perfect!

What’s playing on your ipod at the moment?

Susanna: I’m listening to some Brahms lieder performed by Bernarda Fink and Roger Vignoles. Although I love my music making with Ellipsis, I spend a lot of my working life coaching singers and working with poetry and song. The power of words through the human voice in song or opera excites me greatly.

What made you become a musician?

Melanie: For me, the decision to be a musician was really hard; I was absolutely torn between being a doctor or a musician. I have few regrets about choosing music (except perhaps the bank balance!), and love the variety and challenge of a life playing all sorts of different music, particularly chamber music; I love teaching too, and feel incredibly lucky to work at the Royal Academy and at the Purcell School of Music. And I do still use a bit of my medical training, using a technique called Electromyography to help students to use their muscles correctly when performing, and researching into prevention of musicians’ strain injuries.

What is the best thing about being a musician?

Susanna: Music is a language which crosses every frontier and I love all the people I meet, the colleagues I make music with, the places I visit and the friends I make through being a musician. For me, too, it can act like a sanctuary. If I am feeling a little grumpy or down in the dumps, normally music making will remind me why life is a wonderful blessing and how lucky I am to connect so deeply to the world through my music.

What is the worst thing about being a musician?

Susanna: You can never shut down! Even on a ‘day off’, you are thinking that you should be practising and getting ready for the next performance.

Melanie: Couldn’t agree more!


Ellipsis Ensemble will be performing on Sunday 3rd February at 7.30pm.

Tickets available