Playing with Imogen Heap / by petergregson

So, yesterday I got a bizarre series of DMs and emails from Ms Imogen Heap. It turns out that she had no cellist lined up for the first night of her UK tour, and could I jump on a train and go and play? Um... Yes. What else was I going to do? Watch Scotland lose at rugby? So off I popped to Euston, jumped on the train and arrived just in time for soundcheck!


I had actually seen this show when it was in New York, early December (how windswept and interesting of me..), but I was really looking forward to being a part of the surreal, betwinkling stage and lush soundscaped playlist. The audience were lovely, "quite tame" but to me as a classical cellist, they were off the hook! After the show, we retired to the green room for beer, sandwiches (with a crazy non-pesto condiment that looked painfully like pesto) and microwaveable ready meals. Living the high life! After a little drive around in the tour bus (chalet?) we were deposited at the hotel and I'm now on the train back to London to get on with the traditional task of learning repertoire. The most striking difference was seeing what difference an audience can make on a performance. We talk about receptive audiences in the classical world, but we don't actually have them: we have hushed respect. The two are very different. Imogen's fans sing and scream, they photograph and the laugh. Do a search on Twitter, and you'll quickly see that they felt as much a part of the performance as those on stage. Are they justified in this? Absolutely! I'd love audiences outwardly care about the classical world as they do about Imogen's. Why, when I say it out loud, does it sound ridiculous? It really shouldn't.