Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
I’ve been very fortunate to have had many people around me who have, and continue to, inspire me. I would say my Grandad was my biggest influence, as he was the person who first inspired me to pick up the guitar at the age of 4. He taught me a few chords and simple tunes and it went from there. Since then, I’ve had numerous incredible teachers, all of whom have had different approaches. The obvious names spring to mind too like Julian Bream and John Williams whom I’m certain have influenced all classical guitarists playing today in one way or another.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
There are numerous challenges almost on a daily basis, which is just part of being a musician. I’m constantly questioning and analysing my playing which can be very tough at times as it’s easy to get caught up in a certain way of doing something. But if I had to pick one challenge it would be when I had a serious injury to my arm at the end of 2019 which stopped me playing for 6 months (I was actually fortunate as it could have prevented me from playing long term!) That was certainly a tough period, but it also gave me time to reflect where I was at that stage, and it gave me some extra motivation when I was able to play again. Thankfully it’s fully recovered and I’m enjoying my playing more than ever.
Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?
Last year I recorded Benjamin Britten’s “Nocturnal after John Dowland”. It’s about the only time I’ve done a recording where I listen back months later and am still happy with it!
Which particular works/composers do you think you perform best?
Generally audiences highlight John Dowland and Benjamin Britten in my concerts.
What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?
I try to maximise what I do away from music as much as possible as I believe that things that happen in our day to day lives affect how we play and what we put into the music. I think it’s important to try and live a varied life so you have something to express in your music. The more you experience, the more you have to express. I also think it’s important to switch off from music semi-regularly so that I’m always refreshed when I return to my practise. I’m a huge football fan. I play every week and have a season ticket for my team (Wolverhampton Wanderers) so I watch them on a weekly basic which certainly takes my mind off music for a bit! It might sound like a ridiculous comparison, but I also find football an interesting parallel to music in the sense that your emotions can change very quickly and unexpectedly.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I was fortunate to perform at Wigmore Hall in 2018 and not only was it the best acoustic I’ve played in, it was also quite a big moment on a personal level as it was one of the venues my teachers would often reference during lessons. So when I got to play there, it certainly felt like a big achievement and one that stands out.
What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?
I think programming is key. I believe most venues are doing what they can price-wise to attract younger audiences. In terms of sustaining audiences into the next generation then I certainly think that children should be given every possible opportunity to play an instrument from a young age and get some sort of exposure to classical music.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
To define success is quite tricky as I think it’s something that continuously changes. On a day-to-day basis, it’s often about improving things from a more technical point of view, so if I can play a passage of music more accurately and consistently than earlier in the day, then I would say that’s a successful day of practise. Longer term, it’s always satisfying to give a first performance of a piece after a period of learning and practising it. In a more general sense, if I can move one or two people at a concert then I feel like I’ve done my job.
What advice would you give to young/aspiring musicians?
Don’t be afraid to try things musically. Experiment. Always keep an open mind to new suggestions and ideas. Question other interpretations of the music you’re playing. I think all of these are key to finding your own voice.
What’s next? Where would you like to be in 10 years?
If I’m still enjoying making music/performing then I’ll be more than happy.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Giving a good concert, Wolves getting 3 points and enjoying my spare time with family and mates.
What is your most treasured possession?
My Christopher Dean guitar – it’s a beautiful instrument.
Guitarist Jack Hancher performs with flautist Emma Halnan at this year’s Hertfordshire Festival of Music. Their concert on 4th June includes music by Mario Castelnuova-Tedesco, Sir Malcolm Arnold and Astor Piazzolla. More information/tickets here
Jack Hancher is an award winning classical guitarist. He completed his Master in Performance at the Royal College of Music (RCM), London in 2018 where he studied with Gary Ryan and Chris Stell and won the RCM Guitar Award 2014 while still in his second year as an undergraduate. In 2020, Jack Hancher won First Prize at both the Zagreb Guitar Festival Competition and the Plovdiv GuitArt Festival Competition. He was also awarded Fourth Prize at the Changsha International Guitar Competition 2020. In 2015, in duo with the guitarist Haydn Bateman, he performed for the IGF Aspire Stage Concert at Kings Place, and later that year as a soloist at Proms at St Jude’s performing music by Rodrigo, Piazzolla and Houghton. In 2017, he was accepted onto the International Guitar Foundation (IGF) Young Artists Platform, and performed at the IGF London Guitar Festival at Kings Place in October that year. Jack Hancher made his debut at Wigmore Hall, London, in July 2018, performing his arrangements of Albeniz’s piano music and at the Cheltenham Contemporary Arts Festival with music by Arnold, Britten and Dowland. He has performed in European venues such as the Großer Ehrbar Saal, Vienna and the Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi, Turin.