Meet Matt Hunt of Ensemble 360 - Beethoven, Callas, Rio, eggs and Nancy Mitford
Matt Hunt, distinguished clarinetist of Ensemble 360, gives us an insight into his life in music...and beyond
What was the first piece of classical music you remember hearing/noticing, and when?
I was obsessed as a child with beethoven's seventh symphony- my grandmother played us a record of the piece and taught us rhymes for all the different rhythms. I can't play or hear the piece without thinking of her.
What was the first piece of music you remember ‘performing’ either solo or in a group/choir/band/orchestra?
No strong memory here- but I do remember singing "I'm Hen-erey the Eighth I am" at primary school..
Who is or was your most inspiring teacher/mentor?
The wonderful late Dame Thea King taught me at the guildhall school and was an amazing model of dedication and honesty as a musician, and my teacher in Paris- Pascal Moraguès-was the person who opened my ears to a vast array of possibilities on the instrument.
Who were your musical heroes when you were growing up – performers, composers?
There were a few constants - Mozart, Stravinsky and Rachmaninov, but my loyalties swung with whatever I was playing at the time. The performers who were my idols remain so- Martha Argerich, du Pré and above all others, the incomparable Maria Callas
Who are the musical peers you admire the most now, and why?
I'm currently on tour with my long time colleague Pekka Kuusisto, the fabulous finnish violinist. I've had the huge fortune to play with him for 15 years, and he always inspires me and makes me think anew. The composer Thomas Adès is also a constant source of inspiration- he writes such complex beautiful music and is such a compelling performer.
How much do you play/practice each day/week?
Totally depends on what I am preparing, where I am and how much time I have.
What do you love most about your chosen instrument?
Its proximity to the human voice
What’s the biggest occupational hazard about playing your instrument?
What is most rewarding about commissioning and then performing new music?
Receiving a new score is thrilling- especially from a composer who knows you and has written something specifically for you. Then begins the process of making sense of the piece and discovering its joys, and then learning to communicate them to the audience.
What’s it like to play ‘in the round’ and so close to an audience?
In the round is fun as you don't have to project so much- you can play as though for yourself- it takes away the need to shout unnecessarily, musically speaking!
What are the (other) best spaces to play in, and why?
My favourite hall is the Laeizhalle in Hamburg, with beautiful accoustics and an amazing audience. Symphony hall in Boston comes a very close second- it invites you to produce your best peaches and cream.
What is the best thing about performing for, or working with, young people, with Music in the Community projects?
Children are so open- they listen to music with no expectation or judgement. It takes playjng music right back to the essential of sharing something living, fun and beautiful
And the biggest challenge?
Doing the above with honesty and integrity!
How do you relax away from music?
I cook, read, am a keen uncle and love to play the piano
Best every holiday?
Two weeks exploring Sicily. I'll never forget seeing Etna for the first time.
Nancy Mitford The Pursuit of Love
Strictly Ballroom by Baz Luhrman
Wimbledon, Roger Federer
If I wasn’t a musician, I would be…
I can’t live without…
A well made martini.
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