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‘Young musicians need to be able to make mistakes. Now they live online forever’ – organist Anna Lapwood

1 March 2021, 14:01 | Updated: 1 March 2021, 14:50

‘Musicians need to be able to make mistakes. Now they live online forever’ – organist Anna Lapwood
‘Musicians need to be able to make mistakes. Now they live online forever’ – organist Anna Lapwood. Picture: PA

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Star organist and conductor, Anna Lapwood, speaks to Julian Lloyd Webber about the age of streamed concerts, and the power of social media, for his new Classic FM show ‘Rising Stars’.

This Sunday, Julian Lloyd Webber began his new Classic FM show championing brilliant musicians under the age of 30 through their recordings.

Among the young stars is trailblazing young organist, music director and broadcaster, Anna Lapwood, who sat down with Julian last week for a Zoom chat.

When researching the 30 brilliant musicians in his show, Julian noticed one thing: all have a social media presence. “I think it’s really important,” says Lapwood, whose organ videos on Twitter, frequently accompanied by her trademark hashtag #PlayLikeAGirl, often go viral.

Julian adds that many musicians find it brings them closer to their audience. Lapwood agrees: “If we’re going to bring classical music to another audience, we’ve got to do it on their terms. And they are there, they are sitting there on social media the whole time.”

Lapwood says it’s sometimes levelled as a criticism, as if you’re “demystifying” the performer by being on social media. “But I think that’s nonsense,” she says. “If a kid is going to be inspired to play an instrument, it’s going to be because they can see themselves doing it.”

Read more: ‘You know there are invisible people watching’ – pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason on streaming >

‘Musicians need to be able to make mistakes’

Music is, increasingly, going online, as musicians around the world have been forced to adapt and find new ways of reaching audiences, amid the concert hall closures that have come with COVID-19 restrictions.

“In some ways, it’s good, in the fact that it’s forced modernisation so quickly,” Lapwood says of the culture change in live music-making.

“But there’s also something that worries me. I think all musicians need to be able to make mistakes. And I’m slightly scared about the idea that now everything is streamed and recorded, and stays up on the Internet, and your mistakes are there for everyone to see.

“We all love the transient nature of music-making and the fact you have these shared experiences and memories, that are just memories.”

Read more: ‘Young girls can be organists too,’ says Anna Lapwood >

‘Covid is masking the real impact of Brexit’

The music world is navigating a battle on two fronts, with Brexit and COVID-19 restrictions. What does Lapwood think the future holds for young UK musicians?

“I’m very scared about what the future looks like. I’m scared about the fact that the music industry that I’ve grown up with is one that is based on collaboration and spontaneity and being able to travel freely and quickly.

“The number of musicians you think of who are called to do a gig because someone else has dropped out, and they say, ‘could you be in Germany, tonight?’. And that ends up being a formative concert. And that possibility is now, seemingly, out of the window.

Read more: ‘Brexit deal will destroy our industry’ – musicians plead on EU visas >

“I totally agree with [the pianist] Joseph Middleton, who wrote about this recently, that Covid is masking the real impact of Brexit for musicians, because of the fact none of us are doing many concerts at the moment.”

Listen to Julian Lloyd Webber’s Rising Stars at 9pm, Sundays on Classic FM – available across the UK on 100-102 FM, DAB digital radio and TV, at ClassicFM.com and on Global Player, the official Classic FM app.