You’ve probably, as a Hong Kong student, learned to play the recorder at some point in your school life – whether you wanted to or not. Lucie Horsch, however, says that the woodwind instrument has always had a special place in her heart. Last Friday and Saturday, the rising Dutch recorder player teamed up with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra to perform in the Discover Baroque concert at the Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium.
The 19-year-old says she wants to help change people’s minds about the instrument she plays, which is often dismissed by many as a trivial musical instrument.
The recorder was very popular around the 18th century, when composers like Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Christian Bach were alive. Vivaldi even wrote concertos specifically to be performed by one. There are many types of recorders, Horsch says, and the instrument can be used to play many different genres of music.
“The recorder is an instrument with a long history not known by many,” the soloist adds. “It is a very professional instrument. It has a beautiful sound, especially when you’re playing a wooden one.”
In recent years, the recorder has taken back some of its lost prestige, and is slowly being seen as more than something played by students in their music classes. One of the positives of it having not been considered a serious instrument for so long, though, is that there are fewer restrictions on how it should be played when compared to other classical instrument such as the cello, Horsch says.
“It’s great because then you can freely interpret your piece of music. It’s also more fun when you have a lot of freedom to be creative.”
Horsch says she began playing the recorder when she was five. “I asked my parents if I could have lessons after watching two girls perform in school,” she recalls.
Her parents, both professional cellists, imagined Horsch would move on to another instrument after a while. “But I stuck with the recorder.”
Horsch says that the way she plays has been deeply influenced by Frans Bruggen, the former teacher of her own music teacher, Walter van Hauwe. “In a sense, I’ve become one of his followers,” she says. “He was one of the first in the Netherlands that really had a professional career in recorder-playing career, and I found that very inspiring.”
The musician says what she loves most about performing is getting to connect with her audience.
One particular example of this is the time she got to perform for students in a big city in Brazil about a year ago. The students, who also played the recorder in their own classes at school, weren’t well-off. They had few physical possessions, but they all found real joy and happiness in making music.
“I felt like I’d made a huge impact on them just by playing my music,” Horsch recalls. Experiences like these, she adds, remind her to never underestimate the power of music.
Connecting with an audience doesn’t always have to happen on a big stage, like at the concert in Sha Tin last week. Horsch says she enjoys the intimacy of playing at small venues, too.
“It feels like you can almost, in some ways, communicate with everyone individually.”
Playing to a smaller audience, she says, allows her to be more relaxed, and take more risks (and, in some cases, improvise on the fly) when performing.
Next month, Horsch will perform at the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity Concert in London, which is held every year to raise money to support those diagnosed with cancer.
Edited by Nicole Moraleda