Ibrahim Aziz, viola da gamba

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

I just followed my dream and was lucky enough to be given the chance to do so. I was in fact in the sciences as a student and soon realised it was a terrible mistake. I then switched to music and have never looked back.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

There have been countless people, both alive and dead – my teachers, great artists from the past, living artists and performers. I could mention soprano Dame Emma Kirkby as one of my biggest musical inspirations. Strange, I know, for an instrumentalist to say that but one can learn so much from a great singer – just as how it was recommended in the Renaissance and Baroque era.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

I think it’s wanting to do what I what I would like to do, while meeting the expectations of others (punters, trends, etc.). Sometimes these are mutually exclusive. I have a feeling a lot musicians struggle with this.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

My solo album, Risonanze. I’m also proud of the recordings I’ve done with Chelys on BIS.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

I think it’s early days yet for that. I love Bach, but as a gamba player there is only so much of it you can do if it unless you transcribe.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

It partly depends on what is needed in concerts, and also my mood. Sometimes I would like to revisit a piece I haven’t played in years, as I often find these come out in a more refreshed way, but other times I just play what I have been learning or simply something which I enjoy playing and sharing with others.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

The Wigmore Hall in London. It has a feel-good factor, which unusually is enhanced when there are people in the audience. Sometimes a place fills in and the resonance and acoustics you enjoyed in the rehearsal – very essential for something like the viola da gamba – disappear. With the Wigmore it’s the opposite.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I guess it must be performing for HRH Prince Charles at a private function in Highgrove. This was many years ago now. Dame Emma’s 70th birthday concert recently at the Wigmore is also one for the memoirs.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Being able to carry on doing what I do.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Be true to your own style.


Ibrahim Aziz performs in this year’s Hertfordshire Festival of Music. Further details

Ibrahim Aziz studied the viola da gamba with Alison Crum at Trinity College of Music London where he won several awards including the Ricordi Prize in conducting in 2003 and the college’s Gold Medal in 2005. A member of the Rose Consort of Viols and several other ensembles in Europe, he has collaborated with many distinguished artists such as singers Emma Kirkby and Clare Wilkinson, harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, recorder players Emma Murphy and Pamela Thorby, gamba player Charles medlam, jazz musicians Liam Noble and David Wickins, the contemporary music company Sound Affairs with composer Charlie Barber and the Oxford-based baroque ensemble Charivari Agréable.

He has appeared on the BBC and Dutch radio stations as well as on various recordings on the Signum, Delphian and Deux-Elles labels. Ibrahim has performed in many festivals worldwide for all kinds of audiences ranging from the BBC Proms to Christmas shoppers on Oxford Street to Highgrove House for HRH The Prince of Wales. He leads the Historical Performance Practice course at Morley College, London.


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