Violin virtuoso gets up close and personal

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Award-winning international violinist Tasmin Little appears next week at Music in the Round for the first time.

She is no stranger to Sheffield audiences but mostly as soloist in orchestral concerts at the City Hall.

With one of her regular accompanists, Martin Roscoe, she will perform a recital of Brahms, Beethoven, Schubert and Franck at the Crucible Studio on Wednesday.

“I like to engage with the audience by introducing the programme from the stage to make it a more intimate experience,” she says. “The excitement of working with a large orchestra is brilliant and fires me up but there’s something lovely about getting to know an audience. It may not have the same pizzazz but it’s a rewarding experience in so many other ways.”

Although a Londoner - she attended the famous Yehudi Menuhin School as a little girl - she has strong Yorkshire connections. “My father was born in Bradford and a lot of my first professional concerts were in the Yorkshire area and I appeared on YTV a great deal,” she recalls. “And now I have a building named after me, the University of Bradford’s music school, the Tasmin Little Music Centre.”

Her father was actor George Little, the first vicar in what was then called Emmerdale Farm, which she says didn’t seem that special to her at the time. “That feeling of being quite grounded in a creative profession was useful for me when I started my career because I think it is all too easy to lose touch with reality.”

Tasmin Little, now an OBE, was one of the first of what has become a line of photogenic female British violinists.

“I had just started my professional career when classical music began to be more aware of marketing and promotion,” she observes. “In the initial part of my career it wasn’t an issue but I have seen a big change in the way it has become important how you look.” Now 48, is this something she still has to address? “I would want to do that anyway, I don’t know there are many women who would not like to look their best - and being aware of how you look applies to any field and it includes men as well.”

On a mission to popularise classical music she launched the Naked Violin project, which included the release of free tracks available to download from her website, with a three step challenge to encourage new listeners to attend a concert.

“As soon as you mention classical music people make assumptions and the title was a kind of shock tactic to make people sit up and look and listen,” she explains. “here have been half a million downloads and that makes me happy because I would love it if there was no distinction between classical and other forms of music. It’s important to make music accessible though we can’t always do it for free!”