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Joanna MacGregor


Joanna MacGregor
Not only was I fiddling around at the keyboard but there were all these other children of all backgrounds wanting to play every sort of music bits of classical, jazz, pop, improvisation." The Guardian - 26/05/2000
MacGregor quotes
My favorite composers tend to be great improvisers as well as great players. It doesn't matter whether they're contemporary or classical.
MacGregor
You don't rely on a great army of people to spoon-feed you. Today's classical-music world is very self-defeating. I love the fact that all these corporations are falling apart. They're sinking millions into acts and getting it wrong. And I know why - it's not about the music, or the audiences. So in many ways this is a very encouraging time.




MacGregor Joanna quotes
As a musician you can cover everything. I'm not just a concert pianist.
MacGregor Joanna
Being a specialist is a 20th century thing, and now rather old fashioned as an idea. I realised early on that you can be the kind of superstar who jets around playing the same programmes all over the world, or you can be the sort of musician who perhaps can be a little influential.
Joanna MacGregor quotes
As I get older I realise that start has made me rather, well, different. It set down a tremendous template for the rest of my life. I grew up believing the piano is a great instrument because you can play everything on it.
Joanna MacGregor
The musicians who interest me most are people like Nitin Sawhney, Talvin Singh, Django Bates. They are not just writing music but performing it, recording it, putting tours together and running their own labels. That is what real musicians are, rather than over-publicised specialists.
MacGregor Joanna quotes
We're really not very good about putting music in a social and political context, particularly classical music. It's all sort of above everything. But in South Africa, everything is politicised. You play a piece of classical music out there and you are making a real cultural statement. Or you play with a marimba band and you are saying something else. I think that's the way things should be. The way people write about music makes it seem completely devoid of social context. And audiences drift away as a result.
MacGregor
I tour a bit in America and a lot in Europe, Holland especially, where they have this forward-looking music scene because they got through the barriers 15 years ago. They gobble up the things I do. I go to the Far East - I like working with the orchestra in Singapore - but my favourite places tend to be the ones where it's more than turning up and doing a big concert. Next month I go to the Sydney Festival, where I've persuaded them to do the Lou Harrison concerto. As penance, though I don't mind it, I have to play the Gershwin concerto in the first half. And I hope to return year after year to South Africa, where I've been with the National Symphony Orchestra into Soweto. Education work is being done there for the first time. Previously they had never bothered to find new audiences, and now they are staring into an abyss which we may face too. Events there are a fast-forward version of what could happen here.
MacGregor Joanna
If you want a nine-to-five existence with weekends off then don't be a musician. I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now if I had children. But it hasn't worked out like that.
Joanna MacGregor
I was given so much advice. About how my hair should be, what I should wear, which competitions I should enter, what stuff I should play. None of that was relevant for me. I just had a kind of instinct.




Joanna MacGregor quotes
I've played Bach since I was a little girl. I can't let a day go by without playing him. He's so witty and secretive and funny and mathematical and brilliant.
Joanna MacGregor
Classical music has struggled to keep up. Unlike any other art form, it keeps on looking backwards all the time. It used to have a real museum culture. Then it went: "Oh my God, what are we going to do? Call for Nigel Kennedy. Quick!" Classical musicians have got to change or die,' she asserts strongly, 'but they just don't know how to. Audiences for classical music have dropped. The old blue rinse audience is dying out, and young people aren't coming in.
MacGregor quotes
My education was very intensive and I applied that training later on to playing the piano. I had always played, but having no one to compare myself to, I had no idea if I was any good.
MacGregor Joanna
School was strange, rather amusing - with a teacher standing at the front telling you what to write. The camaraderie was interesting. I tend to remember the things you can't recreate on your own - queuing up for your dinner, learning team games, which were a complete mystery to me. I remember having to pretend I knew how to play hockey, that kind of thing." The Mail on Sunday - 06/02/2000
MacGregor Joanna quotes
It's a life of planes and trains.
Joanna MacGregor
Classical musicians can sometimes get very hung up on the idea that there's a right way and there's a wrong way. You can see this destroy a lot of players. Jazz musicians have a way of understanding that there are a lot of different ways of doing things. That's what's great about them, they're so friendly. And they are so individualistic - that's why they can accept someone like me.
Joanna MacGregor quotes
The freedom of improvising over a bass line disappeared from music only in the 19th century, and we're still paying for it. There's a culture among classical musicians of being passive, and it stems from following the notes, rather than one's own instincts.
Joanna MacGregor
I want to move away from complexity. I've done my time as far as virtuosity and piles of notes are concerned. It's what puts me off a lot of contemporary classical music - there are so many notes. In fact, I think I'm moving away from classical music altogether. I'm not sure that in 10 years' time I'll be playing it at all.
MacGregor Joanna
I wasn't part of that hothouse thing. I didn't go to the Yehudi Menuhin school. I grew up with the idea of trying to make music available to people of all abilities." The Guardian - 26/05/2000


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