Our Community / St Paul’s Community

The violinist Hugo Ticciati shares his memories from St Paul's and his musical journey thus far. 

'I remember, as though it were yesterday, running to Mr T’s room during breaks to sight-read through concertos for four harpsichords (and get a coveted biscuit!), or harmonise Bach chorales in the style of Brahms – covering up my inadequate understanding of harmony by purported musical sabotage! 

By the end of my time at St Paul’s my violin playing had plateaued, and I decided to take the conventional path of a musicological degree at Cambridge. During the intervening summer, after I had taken my A levels, I met the leader of the English Chamber Orchestra, who said I ‘must play’ the violin, and recommended a teacher in Canada. Knowing it was what I wanted to do more than anything, I called Cambridge to defer by a year and bought a ticket to Canada. 

To cut a rather intense story short, however, I came back after nine months with pain in every part of my body, caused by practising too much in the wrong way, and I faced the prospect of being forced to give up my dream. In the nick of time, Mark Tatlow, my St Paul’s music history teacher, suggested I should meet a Russian violinist who he thought might be able to help me. A ten-minute lesson with Nina Balabina was enough to make me call Cambridge again, this time to cancel my place, and buy a one-way ticket to Sweden, where Nina taught.

Album Cover

For four years I became a hermit: physically, I lived in a kind of isolation; violinistically, I played only scales, exercises and studies. They were the most wonderful and liberating years, freeing me from thoughts of a musical career, from the constraints of musical institutions, and above all giving me the space, time and silence simply to ‘be’. 

When I emerged from this hermetic hush and returned to the outside world of music, things slowly took off, and I am now blessed to be doing what I love every day – performing with fantastic orchestras, working with inspiring artists, and sparking new creations from composers. I am very happy to say that I still live in a blissful state of mobilephonelessness.'

Hugo Ticciati’s new album From the Ground Up: The Chaconne features several tracks which were recorded in The Wathen Hall. The disc, set for release on 7 June, explores chaconnes from the sixteenth century through to the present day. For each disc sold Hugo will donate to charitable tree planting initiatives in India.