Jennifer Pike has firmly established herself as one of the world’s most exciting violinists, playing with the greats, winning endless prizes and accolades, being awarded an MBE in 2020 and performing in the most prestigious locations and concert halls.
And yet she still loves returning to Oxford to walk the streets and reminisce about her time here as a student. Heady days that will soon be realised thanks to her Sunday afternoon recital at Trinity College. BOOK HERE
“I STILL LOVE GOING THROUGH THAT EXPERIENCE WITH AN AUDIENCE. IT’S ENORMOUSLY ADDICTIVE.”
“Oxford is such a beautiful place and I absolutely loved being a student there, so I’m really looking forward to Sunday,” she says. “I have such great memories of cycling to lectures, popping into coffee shops, sitting in the library reading books, and meeting people who were not musicians, all of which were wonderful.
“So even if it was hard work, especially when I was still performing in concerts at the time, it’s always very nostalgic coming back.”
Having graduated with First Class Honours in Music from Lady Margaret Hall in 2012, Jennifer has since soared high in the world of classical music.
So when did she get the bug? “I remember being 9 and performing in a concert in Manchester (where she still lives) and looking out at the audience and it was such a wonderful sensation – to be able to make people happy like that, to visibly affect them through music. It was a wonderful feeling.
it’s the variety that keeps you on your toes, and that’s very exciting musically
“But it also takes a lot of sacrifices, especially by my family. We always went on holiday locally because my parents needed to pay for my music lessons, and it costs money to perform abroad and travel to auditions.
“But I’m very, very lucky because I always knew I had it in me.”
Did winning Young Musician Of The Year aged 12 change everything? “It was a great stepping stone. Would I have got there without it? Yes it opened lots of doors and people knew who I was, but I always think that if you miss one opportunity another will come along. The world will keep turning for you
“And both success and failure help you to grow. It’s trying to find a balance that’s the hardest thing.”
Is there anything Jennifer can’t play? “I always liken musicians to athletes. You might be able to do a double pike but have to work really hard at the bars. It’s about muscle memory but also about putting hours and hours of work into your training to make sure you have the right stamina and mental agility.
‘having grown up with my father composing at the piano, I’m in a better position than most to understand it’
“But it’s the variety that keeps you on your toes, and that’s very exciting musically – to never know what’s around the corner.”
Like performing her father’s own music? (Her father is the British composer Jeremy Pike) and his Elegy For Ukraine is part of Sunday’s programme.
“I do enjoy playing my father’s music but it still needs to have an unbiased approach – to let the music speak for itself. He wrote it in 2022 to show solidarity with the Ukranians and has cascading rhythms like a river, so it’s really special.
“But having grown up with my father composing at the piano, I’m in a better position than most to understand it, I suppose, so I just want to do it justice.”
“when I’m playing I think about what the composer wanted to convey and try to bring that to the audience”
And does performing get any easier with experience? “It still takes months of planning and preparation, as well as years to interpret the music. But performing is always different, so I still love getting out there and going through that experience with an audience. It’s enormously addictive.”
“That doesn’t mean I feel invincible. I am very self critical and am always trying to be better, so while the music comes easily, when I’m playing I think about what the composer wanted to convey and try to bring that to the audience.”
As for the concert itself, Jennifer is also playing Lili Boulanger, Beethoven,
Debussy and Grieg, with Martin Roscoe on the piano. “It’s always such a privilege to perform with Martin because I know he will always be there to catch me whether I want to be dynamic or spontaneous. I never need to signal or turn because he can always hear it in the music.”
“So I hope people enjoy the concert and get the most out of it. I can’t wait to come back.”
Jennifer Pike (violin) & Martin Roscoe (piano) are at Trinity College’s de Jager Auditorium on Sun 29 Oct at 2.30pm. BOOK HERE