Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'I Ended Up with Tendonitis and Couldn't Play the Violin, and Realised How Much I Minded' NOW AND THEN

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'I Ended Up with Tendonitis and Couldn't Play the Violin, and Realised How Much I Minded' NOW AND THEN

Article excerpt

VIOLINIST Kyra Humphreys has been the co-leader of Northern Sinfonia since 1998 and has appeared as director and soloist with the orchestra on numerous occasions, performing a wide repertoire.

She will open this year's Brinkburn Music Festival on Friday July 8, directing the orchestra in an exciting programme of virtuoso string music. A Londoner by birth, Kyra lives in Newcastle with her husband Matt and their four children.

What is your first memory? Looking out of the window at snow on the ground and saying 'nose, nose!' (with a soft s, not a z sound). It became the family word for snow throughout my childhood. I still have that bit of excitement when snow arrives for the first time each winter.

What were you like as a child? Very enthusiastic, cheerful and curious. I said 'why' all the time, I'm sure it drove the adults in my life crazy! I was quite easy-going, didn't cause my mum much trouble, unlike my brother who was the naughty one.

What childhood games did you play? I was into playing outside a lot, making games up, climbing, not really any girly stuff. We played out on the street a lot, had a club, which we made membership cards for in lots of detail, and had special games and tools too. It was a street full of kids and I remember endless unstructured play in sunny holidays, which was brilliant.

What music did you like and what was the first record that you bought? I liked a mix of stuff; Joan Armatrading, Patti Smith, Bob Marley and Genesis, which I might still listen to now. I also liked a sing along with Abba, which these days I do with my kids. My first record is very embarrassing though: Showaddywaddy. Definitely, best forgotten. Later I got into classical music and I did listen to a lot of chamber music by Beethoven and Shostakovich in my teens.

Did you have a family pet? When I was seven we adopted a stray dog called Nicky. He was no thorough-bred but he was a handsome black dog who ran fast and people commented on him. I loved him and it was really hard when he died eight years later. He gave us a reason to have long family walks on Hampstead Heath, which was a real feature of my childhood.

Were your school days the best days of your life? I was really into maths as a kid. My primary school was quite free and child-led in terms of work and I basically spent almost all day doing maths worksheets. My secondary school was fundamental in making me who I am. It was an arty, liberal, quite political school in the middle of London, and it made me think about a lot of different things. It also had loads of music and drama going on, so it was not a problem being someone who played the violin. Not the best days of my life though: they are definitely now!

Were you ever bullied? No. I was one of the oldest in the year and tall. …

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