Julian Lloyd Webber, one of the world’s finest and most influential classical musicians has announced a special series of concerts. For the first time, Julian will take his audience on a historical and musical journey by presenting a unique insight into his extraordinary life, with music performed by himself, his wife and fellow cellist Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, together with pianist Pam Chowhan.
As a member of arguably the most influential musical dynasty of modern times, Julian will recount stories and anecdotes of touring, recording sessions, concerts and TV shows to link with a new presentation of rare video footage of him talking and performing. “We'll be showing lots of video clips of me working with people like Stéphane Grappelli, Cleo Laine, Yehudu Menuhin but also composers like Joaquin Rodrigo,” says Julian, “ interspersed with all this, my wife will be playing pieces that have been very important in my career. I’ll be reading from my book Travels With My Cello and at different points doing a question and answer from the audience.”
Julian is keen that the show will be a very interactive experience for the whole family and will be inviting a member of the audience to get a unique Cello master class on stage. “What I thought of originally was doing an encore with my wife. As we are travelling by car all the time, we literally cant get an extra cello in,” Julian laughs before continuing, “if some young cellist wants to come I’ll play an encore on their instrument and they can have a few minutes on stage and maybe I can give a few little tips. I want the evening to be totally appropriate for children like an introduction to classical music, a celebration!”
Julian’s passion for music education will spill over into the show and he hopes his lifelong musical experiences will serve as an inspiration to younger members of the audience. “ I just never knew anything else,” he says as he recalls growing up in the Lloyd Webber home. “ I took it for granted, there was all kinds of music going on, musicians dropping into our flat. My father was a composer and organist while my mother taught young children the piano and Andrew would be composing his latest tunes. Music sort of grew out of it for me, there was no particular pressure to do it and I found the cello. There'd never been a string player in the family and that’s one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about music education. Had I not been in that kind of background I don't know if I'd have discovered music or not, it’s just that it was always there.”
The show will see works performed from Faure's Elegy, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Music of the Night, Rachmaninov's Cello Sonata through to composers William Lloyd Webber, Frank Bridge, JS Bach and Philip Glass, “There’s almost too much going on, I think it could overrun a bit!” says Julian when discussing the show which also features a comedy clip of him appearing on TV with the legendary Kenny Everett.
Looking back over a career which spans some five decades, does Julian have any favourite moments? “There are so many things,” he responds, “I loved working with Yehudi Menuhin. I thought he was a great man and a great musician that was just a wonderful experience. More recently I've really enjoyed working with my wife, we've made two CD's and I'm really glad we've been able to do that because it’s something to look back on. We've got a young daughter who’s three and a half and she'll be able to say: "That’s Mummy and Daddy!"”
- An Evening with Julian Lloyd Webber will take place at The Grand Pavillion, Porthcawl on April 9. Visit grandpavilion.co.uk or call box office on 01656 815995 for ticket details.
- A version of this interview by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on February 27, 2015.