We caught up with David Hockings, London Sinfonietta Principal Percussionist, between rehearsals for our upcoming performances of Music for 18 Musicians. In our UK tour, we explore the masterful minimalism of one of the most iconic contemporary composers of our time. We spoke to David about being a percussionist, and the pleasures and challenges of interpreting and performing the music of Steve Reich.
We finally had a choice of major works to perform where percussion has been given a fundamental role.
What are your early memories of playing percussion, how did you get started?
I was bought my first real drum at the age of four. Haven’t stopped since.
Do you have a ‘favourite’ instrument from your extensive palette of percussion instruments?
No, It always relates to the piece I’m playing.
Steve Reich has been described as “America’s greatest living composer”. What do you feel is so special and enduring about his music?
Relative to percussion and percussionists we finally had a choice of major works to perform where percussion has been given a fundamental role.
As a percussionist, are there any specific challenges associated with playing Steve Reich?
Depends on which piece but mostly extreme concentration.
Is it difficult not to get lost when performing his music, or are you so focussed on moving in the right place that it’s hard to enjoy it?
As above, enjoyable when it’s over!
Working with living composers has always been central to the London Sinfonietta.
What are the advantages of having the composer in the room with you?
A very clear idea of the composer’s intentions. Music can usually be interpreted in many ways, so for the longevity of his works, working with living composers has always been central to the London Sinfonietta.
What do you think makes live concert performance so special?
The same as for any other live event, what happens in that show will never be repeated exactly the same ever again.
When you’re not practising or performing what do you like to do?
Get out in the sunshine with the roof of my car down and not drive anywhere near London.
See David Hockings perform Reich's music in our UK tour from 12–15 February.
Published: 28 Jan 2019