Music in the Round


We catch up with MANTRA sitar player Jonathan Mayer

12th Nov 2014 12:01
We catch up with MANTRA sitar player Jonathan Mayer

We find out a bit more about master sitar player Jonathan Mayer, ahead of his MANTRA concert with us on Thursday 13th November

What's the first piece of classical music you remember hearing, and when?

Gosh!...I was surrounded by music from birth because both my parents were musicians. I guess the first piece that really stands out for me is my father’s 2nd Violin Concerto.

What's the first piece of music you remember ‘performing’ either solo or in a group/choir/band/orchestra?

I played violin at my primary school in an assembly. Everyone started laughing because it sounded wobbly…I told them it’s called vibrato!!

Who is or was your most inspiring teacher/mentor?

My father

Who were your musical heroes when you were growing up – performers, composers?

Nikhil Banerjee

Who are the musical peers you admire the most now, and why?

Shahid Parvez (sitarist) for his rhythmical accuracy.

How much do you play/practice each day/week?

I play on average 4 gigs a week and practise for 2 hours a day if not gigging.

What do you love most about your chosen instrument?

Not many others play it!!!!!

What’s the biggest occupational hazard about playing/using your instrument?

Its size, fragility and sitting position which I’m sure will give me back trouble in later years

What is most rewarding about commissioning and then performing new music?

It’s the complete journey from creation to delivery

What’s it like to play ‘in the round’ and so close to an audience?

Very intimate and warm

What are the (other) best spaces to play in, and why?

Royal Festival Hall – although it’s big it still retains warmth and intimacy.

How do you relax away from music?

Football & beer.

Best every holiday?

Turkey 1990

Favourite city?


Favourite food?

I’ll eat anything and enjoy everything but Punjabi cuisine is my favourite.


Prefer portrait ;)


Non-fiction for me, ancient history.


Star wars

TV series?

Don’t have time for that

Sport/team/sporting event?

I used to be an ice hockey goalie but gave it up to save my hands from complete destruction. I was playing professionally but decided to pursue music instead.

My main sporting passion now is football (watching!) and my team is Leyton Orient.

If I wasn’t a musician, I would be…

A professional beer taster

I can’t live without…

PS3, family, music (not in that order though!)

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