College friendship lies behind the flourishing Thorne Trio who play Chichester’s St John’s Chapel on Friday, February 6 at 7.30pm.
“We have been together for about 15 years,” says oboist Ilid Jones who is joined in the trio by Esther Sheridan (clarinet) and Alexandra Callanan (bassoon). “We met at the Royal College of Music. We were all friends when we were at college, and we thought it would be nice to get together to do some chamber music and also a good way to try to earn some money on the side. It worked well through the thriving external engagement office at the college which sends out musicians to some really nice places. People turn up regularly at the office asking for people to play at parties and functions and so on, and the college has a lot to do with the royal palaces. They regularly get musicians at Kensington Palace and so on.
“So it was all just a great thing to do while we were still at college. We never expected we would be doing it 15 years later. When we left college, we were still being booked to do the work, and so we continued.”
The Thorne Trio was accepted on to the Blackheath Halls Young Artists Scheme where they gave a series of recitals and education workshops and were also winners of both the Philharmonia Orchestra/Martin Music Trust Scholarship Fund Education and Outreach Award and of the Anglo-CzechSlovak Music Competition.
During 2004-06, they held the post of junior fellows of the Royal College of Music, and more recently, were semi-finalists in the prestigious Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition in Italy.
In addition to a busy recital schedule, they are also dedicated to their education and community work. They have worked for the Yehudi Menuhin Scheme, Live Music Now!, Wigmore Hall community and education department, the Council for Music in Hospitals, Cavatina Chamber Music Trust, Philharmonia Orchestra and the Royal Albert Hall.
“It has been great, and it’s lovely to be friends because it means you can say what you think!” Ilid laughs. “We have had our ups and downs, though fortunately not too many downs, and we have been to some lovely places. When you are travelling with friends, it means it all becomes like a lovely mini-break. When you are with friends, it is all much nicer.
“The repertoire for reed trio is mainly French and English music, mostly from the last 100 years, mostly 20th-century French music.”
As Ilid says, the problem can be that a lot of it can sound quite similar, which is why they also arrange quite a lot of music themselves: “We try to do arrangements around more classical things that we try to incorporate into the recital.”
They also commission work, most notably from British composer Cecilia McDowall. Century Dances was premiered at St George’s, Brandon Hill in 2005 and has been used in the trio’s workshops and concerts ever since, all over the country.
“We wanted to do something that was different and also quite accessible, but was something that could be part of the education work we do. The education side is a very big part of what we do. We work with quite a lot of different organisations.”