Sophie Hutchings, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?

I grew up in a very musically noisy household! Music was always playing around the house. There was a family piano in the main living area which my dad used for arranging. My earliest recollection was playing nonsensically on the keys. I loved the reflection that the movement of the keys and my hands made against the backdrop of the piano. I thought it was very elegant and spellbinding. My compositional side was encouraged from an early age by my teacher yet I was always quite shy about sharing it. Later on down the track when I first started recording my pieces, the motivation was more so todocument something to be able to look back and reflect upon when I grow old! Just something to remember my youth by and what it was that I loved so much. My music was unveiled to the world through my first album release and my musical career slowly started to develop and grow from there. It was a natural progression which I fed, nurtured and have continued to work hard at to keep following through on.

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

My Mother and Father were very influential in my formative years because of their encouragement. Trusting my internal instinct has also played a key role in the natural progression of what I do as growing up I was surrounded by completely different music to what I write and compose (that being mostly Jazz and Indie rock) so it came from a very genuine heartfelt place. It was an outlet I loved and didn’t really think there was much more to it. I think I still have the same approach. In my late teens my brothers were introducing me to a lot of indie rock and Shoe Gaze kind of music like My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth. I absolutely loved them. Possibly the energy behind them seeped into my creative subconscious.?? I’m really not sure. Later on I discovered Arvo Pärt and he blew my mind. I was so very moved by his pieces. I’ve listened to Für Alina and Spiegel im Spiegel countless times and they put a lump in my throat every time. I love how these pieces are not about how much is played but how it’s played. True emotion conveyed is a real distinction mark for me. Also the Rachels, who are one of my favourite Neo-classical outfits were a kind of epiphany for me and one of the first of this genre in my record collection. I’ve since expanded on my neo-classical collection and dived into Old World Music, from Persion to Classical Raga, Ambient Electronica.. The list goes on.

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

My eyes can tend to glaze over when I’m working with musical software so I have to make it a bit of ‘mind over matter sometimes’. I get a lot of more joy out of the purely creative side and the technical side can inhibit my workflow at times.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Hmmmm that’s a hard one because I’m usually my own worst critic! When I do listen back to my albums there’s always a lot that resonates within me that I feel a particular close connection with. I’m possibly the most proud of ‘Wide Asleep’ and my most recent release ‘Scattered on the Wind’. Performance-wise I really enjoyed performing at Dark MOFO Festival with my cellist Peter Hollo and violinist Jay Kong. It’s a very unique mid-winter cultural festival held in Tasmania. It’s a pretty fascinating immersive festival where thousands of people flock to the very small town of Hobart for the duration of the festival experiencing the state’s reputable food and wine, art installations, theatre, music and more.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I feel most at home playing and performing my own pieces. I’ve always found composing a lot easier than sightreading. If I do play other music, which is rare these days, I love Debussy, Satie, Chopin’s Nocturnes and Bach.

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

My repertoire will always be based around the most recent album recording and release and then I might add a couple of listeners’ favourites like we all do or one that I’m attached to that tells a particular story that I enjoy sharing with the audience. I often like to finish my shows with a goodnight lullaby style piece of mine. I don’t feel we are ever too old for a lullaby!

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

Not really. I generally love venues that have a bit of a story or history behind them. I enjoyed my last show at Silent Green in Berlin, a performance venue housed in the historic premises of a former crematorium. The main performance space once the mourning hall has a beautiful high ceiling and aspatial atmospheric intimacy about it but also feels quite casual. There were people lounging on bean bags in the front few rows which I thought was fantastic. I would like to perform in a space where all the seating is just bean bags! I think it really suits the style of music.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Once when I was in Spain I heard these amazingly dreamy ornate harmonies drift up to my window…. I looked out to find a choral performance taking place in an old amphitheatre AND it was a full moon! I had no idea that it was going to happen. I sat on the windowsill of my accommodation with a glass of wine. The illumination of the moon, the voices echoing through the open air. It was a truly beautiful emotional experience that has always stuck with me.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Too many to mention but two that first come to mind are ‘Rachels’ and ‘Bohren & Der Club of Gore’. I would also have to say my Dad for his inspiration over the years, My Cellist Peter Hollo and my Violinist Jay Kong. They deserve so much credit for traveling and supporting me alongside my musical career and through that period we’ve developed such great musical chemistry and I really value that.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Knowing that your music has personally affected people’s lives around the world.

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

Don’t enter your musical career expecting immediate success. It takes time, focus, determination and positivity as you will come up against certain barriers along the way. It might sound corny but I’ve always felt the importance of just being who you are because that translates. Trying to aspire to be like someone else doesn’t. Remain humble, that translates too.

Sophie Hutching’s new album ‘Scattered on the Wind’ is available now




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