Young Artist of the Month: Saxophonist Sophia Elger  

Musicians’ Company Young Artist Sophia Elger is a classical saxophonist studying for a master’s degree at the RCM. A multi award-winner and holder of the 2022 Hattori Foundation Senior Award, Sophia joined the young artists’ programme after winning the 2021 Biddy Baxter and John Hosier Music Trust Award. Here she tells us what she’s been up to and what she’s planning next.

Hi! How are you? Where are you?  

Hi – thank you for having me! I am well thank you. At the moment, I’m currently living in London.

Congratulations on your recent award wins. What did you perform?  

Thank you! I assume you are talking about the Hattori Senior Award. I performed three pieces, the first was Volio by Paule Maurice, the second was Fragmented Spirit by Stacy Garrop, and the third was Fantaisie Italienne by Eugène Bozza. It was actually the same programme that I chose for the Musicians’ Company #MusicShots concert series!

Your performances have been described as ‘captivating, exciting, and engaging’. What helps you perform at your best?

If I were to say three words, they would be confidence, love, and health. When one is confident and able to manage their nerves then that helps one to feel under control. When one loves their craft – enjoying the act of playing and performing – it tends to emit an inviting and positive energy and I include health because it just feels so much better to play when you are on form! The kind of state that I’m sure any athlete would strive for leading up to a race.

What have been your concert highlights of the year, and what’s on your schedule?  

In the last year, my concert highlight was performing Concertino da Camera by Jacques Ibert with the RCM Symphony Orchestra. Slightly more recent highlights include performing at Shoreditch Treehouse and the Brunel Museum, both of which were fascinating places to perform in. They are not considered typical concert venues but that is part of their charm. Not long ago, I also played with Treephonia Live, where the ensemble toured and premiered new works all around West London.

I have a few things coming up in the schedule including a recital at the 1901 Arts Club and in early December, the very newly formed Ardent Saxophone Quartet, will be performing in an evening concert with the Queen’s Park Singers.

How did your first masterclass earlier this year go?  

I thought it went well! I went to Bryanston School for sixth form, so it was lovely to be invited back and to see all the teachers who supported me with my music.

It was a pleasure to work on the repertoire that they had prepared. It was also nice to hear they responded well to me – being a similar age we could relate well to one another. There were six students playing, which allowed for a safe and intimate space during the Q&A towards the end of the masterclass. All in all I was happy with how it went and there are definitely a few things for me to learn for the next one!

What are you doing as part of the Young Artists’ programme?

Well, earlier this year, I took part in some participation work at Linden Lodge and I really appreciated the regularity of the classes, which we gave on a weekly basis, because it gave me a chance to get to know the students well. More recently, I recorded a recital for the #MusicShots concert series, which I mentioned earlier, and that was the first time I had a professional to create the recording. It made such a difference and was well worth the investment!

I also have a couple of other projects at Merton Dementia Hub in the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability coming up in the next month. There is always a Musicians’ Company engagement in the diary!

You have almost 15K followers on instagram, what type of content do your audience most like to see?

It is definitely about what followers like, but it is also what the Instagram algorithm likes – luckily, the answer to both is reels! I have a fair number of people who send me messages and only yesterday, someone sent me a piece that I had recorded a small snippet of. A couple of months ago, I also received a message saying that my reels were inspiring several students in Brazil, which was unexpected but delightful to hear. When I started, I didn’t think that I would get such a positive response; now I just need to keep it up!

What are your hopes for 2023 and beyond?

Well, up until the summer, I will be engaged with completing my master’s degree and after graduating I plan to record an EP and to engage in a few competitions and other programmes. Once I’ve graduated, I will continue collaborating with composers and finding ways to create projects that incorporate music with art. I’d also like to get into composing a work for solo saxophone.

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