Polly Smith performance and management
b i o g r a p h y
I have been a professional baroque and classical violinist for around 25 years. I became hooked on baroque music at the age of twelve after playing my first Handel concerto grosso as a member of the Waddell String Orchestra in Edinburgh, and after a degree in music at the University of St Andrews specialising in the period 1550-1750 and studying performance practice, I gained a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying baroque violin with Simon Standage and Michaela Comberti and becoming a member of the European Baroque Orchestra (now EUBO), directed by Ton Koopman and Roy Goodman.
I spent several summer seasons at the Drottningholm Opera in Stockholm, playing Mozart and Gluck in the wonderful eighteenth-century theatre, mastering how to play in wig and breeches.
For three years I worked with several Paris-based groups including Les Arts Florissants, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Le Concert Spirituel, La Grande Ecurie, La Symphonie de Marais, and learned French note-values and other useful survival vocabulary.
Back in the UK I am lucky enough to have toured and recorded extensively for many years with the Academy of Ancient Music, the English Concert, The Sixteen, the Gabrieli Players, the Hanover Band, the Brandenburg Consort, St James Baroque Players, London Handel Orchestra, English Touring Opera and many others. I play a wonderful baroque violin by John Dilworth (after Amati, 1985), and a Hopf classical violin, with bows by Tunnicliffe, Ashmead and Coltman.
Then, alongside performing, a chance came up to experience the other side of the music business - how a concert series is put together, and what has to go on before musicians step onto the stage in all their finery. I did an internship and then was offered a tailor-made job with Music at Oxford organising on-the-day logistics, compiling and proofing programmes and brochures, devising a series of pre-concert talks, supervising a team of 40 stewards, sourcing participants for a young artists scheme and coping with the backstage quirks of various concert venues.
More recently I worked in a similar capacity for Clive Conway Celebrity Productions Ltd, who run 'An Audience With..', and I now organise their Christmas Concert series at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, sourcing and booking choirs and celebrity readers, and making sure everything is ready to run smoothly on the day. 2016 also saw my appointment for 12 months as Administrator for the Wimbledon International Music Festival.
Currently I also manage marketing for the ensemble Canzona's 'Venetian Graces' programme, the period instrument string quartet Revolutionary Drawing Room, and until recently Ensemble DeNOTE. I have a special interest in promoting programmes which harness the power of other art forms to enhance and deepen the musical experience and connect more strongly with the context. 'Art Sung - Alma Mahler' is a wonderful example of this, as is the Viennese Quartet Party programme by the RDR quartet.