Real People, Real Lives, Real Jobs

“It is a huge loss for me, in terms of both personal and musical identity”




Carry on Touring – Real People, Real Lives, Real Jobs

Poppy Walshaw, is a baroque cellist, who, over the past 15 years has had more than half her work outside of the UK, especially as continuo cellist for baroque orchestras in Poland and Germany.

Over to Poppy.

In addition to regular touring with UK groups abroad, I consider myself very fortunate to have had more than 50% of my performing work with baroque orchestras based in the rest of Europe.

I was the continuo cellist for ensembles in Poland and Germany since 2007, as well as appointments for several years as the principal cellist of Oslo Baroque Orchestra, as a member of Spanish orchestra Al Ayre Espanol, and so on. 

After my postgraduate study in Bremen, Germany, from 2001-4, I returned to the UK and have lived in London, travelling frequently for work. Specialising in early music, there is a small pool of players, many of whom work with several ensembles, often in different European countries.

In the case of Poland, I first went there at less than 24 hours’ notice to join a recording project with Arte dei Suonatori. It clicked musically straight away and the following month I became their regular cellist. I found my musical home in this ensemble, and centre of my musical identity and exploration. Most years I have worked in Poland far more than the future maximum of 30 days for Polish work that I have seen on information from the ISM.

When the Brexit vote happened, I was with Arte at a festival in Copenhagen, performing as a concerto soloist as well as continuo cellist. With the unclarity on Brexit over the intervening four years, sadly my work in both Poland and Germany fizzled out in favour of the ensembles using musicians from the rest of Europe and locally.

 With Simon Wallfisch, as part of over sixty monthly marches that he organised since the referendum singing Ode to Joy outside Parliament.

The enriching opportunities that I have had were a result of jumping in for projects at short notice. It seems that travelling at less than 24 hours’ notice in that way will be either completely impossible with the various future regulations, for many EU countries, or even for those countries where it’s theoretically possible, a UK player would not be chosen because of the perceived or unknown difficulties. This is something that I understand will also have an enormous impact on other areas of the performing arts, such as opera “stand-ins”. 

Poppy Walshaw, Baroque Cellist


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