This is a ‘Revelation Artist Interview’ from our recent concert ‘Mike Bacon & Friends’ at St Mary’s Revelations in Ashford, Kent.
Mike Bacon, principle cellist of the Leon String Quartet, discusses memorable moments, the Kent music scene and the sheer diversity of modern musical life…
1. How did you all meet and what inspired you to form the Leon String Quartet?
We all met whilst studying at Canterbury Christ Church University and formed the Leon String Quartet in 2012. Grabbing an opportunity to play through repertoire together, we found that we all loved the same styles of music. We also found much in common and had great fun playing together. After a lot of rehearsing, performances and coffee, time flew and carried the quartet into our professional lives.
2. What has been your most memorable performance so far and why?
I really enjoy working with projects that involve other art forms. A recent performance with a group of dancers in the Chatham Dockyards, exploring the history and landscape through movement and music was very special. I even got to wear a boiler suit and steel toe capped boots!
3. What is the most enjoyable part of performing with a singer as opposed to just
It is very refreshing to step outside the instrumental box and open up a world that involves the most natural of all instruments, the voice. Catherine’s love of early music has given us an opportunity to explore some new arrangements and delve into the delights of a different time.
4. What is your favourite aspect of the music scene in Canterbury and wider Kent?
There is such a rich tapestry of music in Kent. From folk festivals to Choral Evensong, we
have a wealth of culture that gives us the freedom to explore what makes us tick!
5. What was the most valuable thing you learned from studying under Martin Outram (Viola
player of Maggini Quartet)?
The roles within an ensemble are forever changing and we must adapt to that. This is what
I find so exciting! Each part plays its ever-changing role within the score. Martin has such
an incredible knowledge of quartet music, from the big picture to the smallest detail. The
most valuable thing I learned was to always keep learning!
6. Who is your favourite ‘non-classical’ artist that you are listening to at the moment?
We recently played alongside Coco and The Butterfields, a spellbinding infusion of pop and
folk! Other than that, Muse has always got my heart racing. We may have a little ‘nonclassical’
surprise at the end of our performance…
7. We’re looking forward to your diverse programme, what inspired you to perform Jewish
and Scottish folk tunes together in the same show?
We wanted to showcase the very best of what the quartet has to offer. With such an
incredible range of repertoire, we decided to fill our musical melting pot to the brim!
8. What has been the biggest learning curve in your career as a performer so far?
I was called to play at the Sacconi festival in Folkestone on the day of the performance, as
a cellist had dropped out at last minute and they needed someone to step in. Whilst
studying, it is much easier to plan for performances well in advance. The professional
world doesn’t always give you as much time as you’d like to to prepare! It does however,
improve your sight reading..
9. Who would you really like to collaborate with on a musical venture?
Bands such as Coco and The Butterfields, Arlet and Tom Williams have been great to work
with, and there will be much more on the horizon.
10. What’s next for Mike Bacon and the Leon String Quartet?
I’m off to play at the UK Premier of ‘The Frogs’ at Jermyn Street Theatre. The Leon String
Quartet is looking forward to a busy year of performances and exciting new
collaborations. Watch this space…!