Grantham Journal Big Interview: Oliver on the national stage as musical career hits high note

The Hermes Experiment.
The Hermes Experiment.

Former King’s School student Oliver Pashley has pursued his love of music and is making the most of his passion as a freelance musician.

Based in London, he performs for a variety of orchestras and groups and is currently performing in Amadeus at The National Theatre, which was shown live in cinemas, including Grantham, yesterday (Thursday). Oliver, 24, tells the Journal how music became his life and where he may be going from here.

Oliver Pashley

Oliver Pashley

How did you start in music and what instrument/s did you play?

My earliest musical memory is of playing the recorder in infant school – when I was eight, I moved on to the clarinet, and never looked back! I learnt the piano alongside the clarinet, but it was always the clarinet that was my main love.

When did you realise you wanted to make a career of music and how did you go about that?

I don’t think there was a defined moment where something clicked and I thought ‘I want to do this’. I’ve always loved playing music, so the progression to making it my living was very natural, and something that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do. With that said, there were (and still are) lots of hours of hard work needed – it doesn’t happen overnight.

When I was growing up in Grantham, two things that were absolutely vital to my musical development were the Saturday morning Grantham Music School, and the Grantham Music Festival. The festival in particular, with its opportunities to perform to others and receive feedback from renowned visiting musicians, is such a fantastic thing to have as a young musician – and every young musician in the area today should be taking advantage of such a wonderful opportunity.

What is it like to be a freelance musician and which orchestras/groups and organisations are you involved with?

Being a freelance musician has its unique challenges, most notably the sometimes precarious lifestyle – not knowing where your next pay cheque is coming from can be a little scary at times! But like any self-employed person, you build your networks, make contacts, and commit yourself fully to everything you do – both you and the audience will enjoy it more that way!

At the moment, I freelance regularly with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and Philharmonia Orchestra. I’m a founding member of The Hermes Experiment (www.the
hermesexperiment.com), a contemporary quartet made up of soprano, clarinet, harp and double bass, and at the moment I’m playing in 
Amadeus at The National Theatre – which was broadcast live to 650 cinemas throughout the UK on 
February 2.

What are the highlights of your musical career so far?

I’ve been really lucky to have done some amazing projects so far, and I have so many fond memories of working with some amazing musicians. I’ve directed a couple of performances of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Bristol Ensemble, and I’ve really enjoyed working with such a friendly and committed group – this is definitely a personal highlight for me. I’ve also played some solo recitals at the Grantham Music Club, and it’s always nice to feel like I’m coming home! The audience there is always so appreciative and welcoming.

What are your hopes for the future?

I have another engagement in the diary, with the Bristol Ensemble for their 2017/18 season, and a tour to Scotland with The Hermes Experiment for 2018. Other than that, as much playing and travelling as possible!