Live Music Now South East musicians, Michael Foyle (violin) and Maksim Štšura (piano) started their collaboration in 2012 and have since performed extensively in prestigious venues across the United Kingdom including Queen Elizabeth Hall, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St James' Piccadilly, Regent Hall and at the Philharmonia/Royal College of Music Lutoslawski Centenary Festival. They have also given recitals in Essen, Germany and for the Evgeny Mravinsky International Festival in Estonia, including the Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn. They have been selected as Park Lane Group artists for the coming season, which will include their Purcell Room debut in January 2015. They joined Live Music Now in 2013 and are 2014 City Music Foundation artists.
Ann Marie Boyle, Assistant Director for LMN South East, caught up with Michael and Maksim in between sets at University College London Hospital's Cancer Unit, where the duo are performing every other week this autumn, and asked them about their first year with Live Music Now.
MS: We've played in quite a few care homes and schools, including a special needs school in Estonia (with Live Music Now's International Development programme).
MF: We received so much positive feedback about the impact of our performance (in Estonia); there were some kids who had their arm over their face all week and they suddenly let go when we played.
AMB: How is a Live Music Now performance different from a musicians' perspective, than playing in a concert hall?
MF: The first is the proximity and interaction with the listeners. Often, if you walk out on stage in a concerl hall, the performer is bathed in light while the whole hall is in darkness, so you can't see them.Whereas here you see their expressions, you see how they're moved or not moved and they can come and talk to you. I think this is the main thing, I've learned how important it is to be really engaged.
MS: I think what is important is the element of responsibility, especially if you go into special needs schools; for some people music really matters and can make a profound difference in their lives, and this is what we don't normally experience on a concert platform. You get so much more direct feedback. For some of the people it could be the first or even last concert of their lives. It's really important to be aware that you're responsible for the impression you make. It's quite a responsibility.
Michael Foyle was born in Ayrshire in 1991 and first appeared as soloist with orchestra in Edinburgh Festival Theatre aged eight. He went on to win the BBC Young Musician of the Year Tabor Award 2008 and was the 2009 Leader of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, performing at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. In 2013 he won the Royal Overseas League String Competition, Croydon Concerto Competition and Eastbourne Young Soloist Competition. He graduated the same year with First Class Honours and the Knights of the Round Table Award from the Royal College of Music in London as a Joint Principal violin and piano scholar.
Currently a Leverhulme Trust Postgraduate Scholar at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studies with Maureen Smith, Michael was been awarded the MBF Manoug Parikian Award for 2013-14 , Philharmonia/Martin Music Emanuel Hurwitz Award and awards from the Countess of Munster Trust and St James Caird Travelling Scholarship. He recently completed an Erasmus exchange in Vienna with Michael Frischenschlager, and now performs regularly in masterclasses with Maxim Vengerov and Pavel Vernikov. In 2014-15 Michael performs the concerti of Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky around the UK, gives recitals in Austria, Germany and The Netherlands, and appears regularly in the Philharmonia and London Symphony Orchestras. He plays a G.B. Guadagnini violin (Milan, 1753) on kind loan from the Royal Academy of Music.
Maksim Štšura was born in Estonia and began the piano at the age of six. He received his Master of Music and Artist Diploma degrees at the Royal College of Music where he studied with Gordon Fergus-Thompson. He received his Bachelor of Arts at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre where he studied with Ivari Ilja. In 2008-09, he undertook an Erasmus exchange at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg, where he worked with Volker Banfield. His Masters studies were generously supported by a Somers-Mountfort scholarship, the AHRC Study Award, the Estonian Capital of Culture Study Award and the Kristjan Jaak Scholarship. Maksim was a Mills Williams Junior Fellow for the academic year 2013-14.
Maksim has performed in masterclasses with musicians including Dmitry Bashkirov, Stephen Hough, John Lill, Barry Douglas, Nina Seryogina, Veera Gornostayeva, Daniel Pollack, Tamas Ungar and Eliso Virsaladze. He has won prizes in several international competitions, including First Prize at the 7th Estonian Piano Competition (2008), the Steinway-Klavierspiel-Wettbewerb in Germany (2004) and the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Estonia (2000). Additionally, Maksim was awarded Yamaha (2008) and Helmi Valtman (2010) scholarships. In 2013 Maksim won the First Prize at the Intercollegiate Senior Beethoven Piano Competition.
Photo Credit (black and white):, Michael Foyle and Maksim Štšura, St Martin in the Fields by Alastair Merrill
Photo Credit (colour): UCLH, Michael Foyle by Ivan Gonzalez