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Peter Fisher - Violinist - Music Director


Serendipity

An interview article by Rosemary Phillips, 2012

Peter Fisher - Violinist - Music Director

Peter Fisher

Music, the universal language
View a video from June, 2012
Travel and music
How it all began
Formal training
Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth
Grappelli-Menuhin: The Legacy
Regazzi violin
The future
Link to Peter's web site and formal biography

INTRODUCTION: Was it serendipity when at the age of eleven, Peter Fisher, then a piano student, met up with a neighbour who was a violin student - and they exchanged instruments? Was it serendipity when Peter Fisher, international solo violinist, recording artist, musical director of the Chamber Ensemble of London, and entertainer on cruise ships, was seen by Nelson Chey who was so impressed with Peter’s music that he brought him to Vancouver, Canada, to perform in care facilities? And was it serendipity that on this very day as I began writing this interview article, a newspaper clipping arrived in the mail explaining how music therapy in care facilities in the Vancouver area has residents and patients with no language cognition or verbal response, singing and laughing along? It would seem that Peter Fisher’s life is full of serendipity - he had just returned from an engagement in a care facility when he took time for this interview...

Music, the universal language that knows no bounds
“This morning I played for people with dementia,” began Peter. “I didn’t see anyone drop off, they were all engaged. And this afternoon I was with people who are physically restricted. I’ve never performed to such an audience on wheels before!”

Peter knows how to keep people attentive. He has been performing classical and cross-over music in various styles, from Baroque to jazz, as a soloist on cruise lines in Europe for the past seven years. “As a headline artist I have to keep the audience (of up to 2,000) well entertained. It’s a challenge, but I’ve learned a great deal from it.”

Peter Fisher - January 2012

Peter Fisher - January 2012

And he has experience with care facilities. “Music can break through and transmit what other means can’t. Music can get through to the heart and soul, and revive feelings and memories that are long forgotten. My mother had dementia and was in a home for about five years. On occasion I would take my violin and play. I saw people totally lost, not communicating, and some walking around aimlessly. I’ll never forget one Christmas; I played every Christmas carol and song I knew, and I was struck with how that room came to life. Those who had been apparently devoid of energy or any focus in consciousness suddenly became animated, requesting songs and even joining in with a chorus.”

Not surprisingly, Peter was booked fully throughout his two-week’s stay in Vancouver (January 2012). “It was incredible, the number of people who came up to me after a performance, telling me how they appreciated the personal quality of my playing. I felt I touched a lot of people.”

Accompanying him on piano were Lester Soo or Maggie Zhang, otherwise Peter used pre-recorded tracks which allowed him to offer a variety of music. “I was actually surprised how some requested Bach or Vivaldi. I’m really stepping into a new realm of playing here.” So it’s no coincidence that, sandwiched between his busy touring schedule, Peter has been invited back to Vancouver for return engagements in June (2012) with over 30 bookings (10 repeat) for the Vancouver area, and invitations from Victoria and Vancouver Island.

Performing "Spanish Rhapsody" by Jaroslav Vanecek, June 2012

Chamber Ensemble of London

Chamber Ensemble of London

Travel and music
Besides his solo performances on the high seas for international cruise lines, Peter is a member of Trio Petrus (formerly the Three Peters Piano Trio, with cellist Peter Adams and pianist Peter Hewitt) and the Chamber Ensemble of London. “I just love to travel. I’ve got a fair bit of touring this year with Peter Hewitt to promote our CD Encore Encore and to perform a 50th Anniversary Tribute to Fritz Kriesler. I will also be playing with the Chamber Ensemble of London for an Olympics-themed concert in the Banqueting House at Whitehall in London.”

In 1997 Peter established the Chamber Ensemble of London which, under his direction, features players from the leading London-based orchestras and chamber music ensembles. In 2006 they released their first beautiful recording, English Music for Strings. “This year we will be performing a concert in the Victoria and Albert Museum and other venues in connection with the Royal Jubilee.”

Then it’s back to the cruise lines as Peter performs solo for an Atlantic crossing on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, and for Silversea and Seabourn cruises.

How it all began
So how did Peter develop his versatile and virtuosic skill with the violin, and that great sound? “I started music when I was four. I have a brother four years older than me and he was taking piano lessons. I wanted them too. When I was eleven a boy my age, who lived around the corner, played the violin. Our mothers thought it would be a great idea to get us together. When he brought his violin I suggested we swap instruments. I was able to move the bow in such a way that the violin resonated. The moment I took hold of my friend’s violin I knew it was to be my instrument and my life.”

Formal training
One thing coincidentally led to another and under the guidance of his first teacher, Ann Blake, his enthusiasm was nurtured. “I was a late beginner but within two years I gained entry into the Royal College of Music in London for Saturday morning lessons, and at age 16, I went full-time. My teachers were Jaroslav and Kveta Vanecek, two of Czechoslovakia’s foremost violinists. They were breaking into new territory with their Czech teaching methods. I then studied in Stuttgart, Germany. It was while I was attending a master class in Siena, Italy, that I met up with Franco Gulli, one of the most refined violinists of the international stage.” And so another serendipitous experience that led to a scholarship and a year of study with Gulli at Indiana University in the United States.

Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth
A few perchance meetings, starting with musician-composer Sarah Watts, led Peter to singer Dame Cleo Laine and her late husband, jazz legend Sir John Dankworth, both pioneers in Britain for the National Youth Music Camps, supporting all styles of music. “I was invited to perform in one of their Christmas shows at The Stables Theatre on their property in Wavendon, and for the last thirty years I have been involved in every Christmas and summer festival. John and Cleo have been my greatest influences. John even composed pieces for me, like ‘Mariposas’ which I performed at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate their Golden Jubilee.”

Grappelli-Menuhin: The Legacy
And more perchance happenings: “John and Cleo had nurtured jazz violinist Christian Garrick. John invited Chris and I to perform at Wavendon, which led to our musical presentation ‘Grappelli–Menuhin: The Legacy’, at the Victoria and Albert Museum. We performed the original arrangements as created for the great artists Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli who were pioneers of jazz-classical cross-over music.”

Peter Fisher - Violinist

Peter Fisher

Regazzi violin
It takes a perfect instrument to help a violinist reach a perfect sound. Those rich, melodious resonating vibrations Peter creates now come from the strings of his 13-year-old Regazzi violin. Through what seems like an orchestrated series of events, Italian violin-maker Roberto Regazzi remembered Peter when he put one of his creations up for sale. “Roberto puts his soul into his work, he invests something of himself. He is one of the best makers in Italy now. He sent a text message that he had the perfect violin for me. I happened to be sailing into Northern Italy, heading for Florence. He drove down from Bologna with his wife and this violin.”

The future
“My vision is to do more solo work on land in different countries and to continue with the cruise ships. Like my teacher Vanecek, I feel I have a mission to spread my passion for, and love of music to inspire people of all ages, to keep the art alive. Music is the international language. It brings joy and peace.”

POST SCRIPT: It has to be serendipity! That’s how I’m writing this article, through serendipity, through an article I had written about a conductor that someone else knew. In addition, while Peter was visiting British Columbia, I was called from a house where people I knew were seated at a dinner hosted by people Peter had met on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean. Yes, it would seem that Peter Fisher’s life is definitely a series of serendipities.

Link to Peter's web site and formal biography
For more information about Peter Fisher, his formal biography, recordings (Encore, Encore and English Music for Strings), and bookings visit his website. You can also see videos of Peter Fisher on YouTube.

Note: There are many more articles on this site. Follow the link to view the Index of Articles.

   

Copyright Rosemary Phillips, Quills Quotes & Notes Enterprises, 2013
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