Katherine Jenkinson, musician

Katherine_e-1033Did you know that there are books of viola jokes? No, neither did I, until Katherine Jenkinson explained to me why she plays the cello.

She was born at Allestree into a musical family and picked up her cello when she was just five years old.

“My parents told me that if I was going to play an instrument I could choose between the violin, viola and cello.

“I had already tried the violin but didn’t really get on with it and even though I was only very young I knew that the viola was joked about, so there was no way I was going to play one – that meant it had to be the cello.”

Katherine could see I was bemused and so explained to me that the viola, rightly or wrongly, was considered very much second string to the violin.

“There are whole books of the jokes,” she said. “For instance – what’s the difference between a viola and a trampoline?” There was a pause and then with a broad grin and a giggle she delivered the punchline: “You take your shoes off before you jump on a trampoline.”

Now almost 30 years on from that decision Katherine is a professional cellist with an enviable international reputation and is proudly showing off her most treasured possession – an Italian cello by Taningard dating back to 1703.

“It is a big cello and it has been in the wars over the years,” she says as she lovingly caresses the instrument.

She bought and restored it in 2008 with help from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and clearly regards herself to be honoured to be able to play it.

“This cello has become my identity. I am recognised by the sound it produces and it really is a huge part of my life.”

Katherine may be blessed with an amazing musical talent but you don’t get to become one of the country’s finest musicians without a lot of hard work and dedication.

“The deal with my parents was that if they were going to give me a cello then I had to play a little every day and I didn’t question that or argue. It was what I wanted to do. When you are a child it becomes natural early on and is like learning a language. Music has always been such a big part of my life and I always knew I wanted to do it as a career.”

Aged just eight Katherine became the youngest pupil of one of the country’s best cello teachers Florence Hooton who sadly died a short time later.

“She was truly inspirational and a wonderful lady. She had helped so many cellists in her life. Even though I was not with her very long I learned a great deal.”

Katherine then won a music scholarship to Derby High School where she was encouraged further by her music teacher Elizabeth Jack, who has remained in contact with her young protégée.

In 1998 she was awarded a further scholarship, this time to the Royal Academy of Music where she studied with Colin Carr and David Strange.  The talented cellist also learned from Alastair Blayden and from the concert pianist Michael Dussek.

“They have all been tremendous and taught me in different ways. David and Colin made me work very hard and their standards were high.

“Alastair was young and full of energy and I would be with him for hours discussing everything about music.”

Katherine became one of the academy’s star pupils winning ten prizes and awards while she was there and since 2011 she has been an academy associate.

Chamber music has now become a key part of her life. She is part of the Aquinas Piano Trio alongside violinist Ruth Rogers and pianist Martin Cousin. They have recently released two new CDs – The Mendelssohn Trios and the Saint-Saens Trios.

The mother of two children, four-year-old Oscar and four-month-old Olivia, she lives in London with her husband Nicholas Holland but often returns to her roots to visit her family and to perform. She is also a patron of the Derby Chamber Music Society.

She will be playing alongside violinist Ning Kam, who is the director of the Belgium Chamber Orchestra, for Matlock Music at Highfields School on February 27 and Music at Duffield at Ecclesbourne School on February 28.

The duo play an unusual programme including alternative works such as folk and blue grass which are not often played by the violin and cello.

For more information go to http://www.katherinejenkinson.comhttp://www.musicatduffield.com or http://www.matlockmusic.org.uk

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