60 seconds with ... Laura van der Heijden

Since winning the BBC Young Musician Competition in 2012, Laura has been building a major solo career. In 2016 she played the Saint-Saëns Concerto No 1 in the inaugural concert of the BBC Proms Australia. In addition to concertising, she is currently an undergraduate at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and is an Ambassador for both the Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts and Brighton Youth Orchestra. Laura has performeded at the Hampstead Arts Festival in two previous seasons and, in November 2017, will appear as part of the Elie Ensemble.

How old were you when you first started playing the cello?
I was 6 years old.

What made you choose the cello over other instruments?
My dad is an amateur cellist and there is a fantastic cello teacher 5 minutes walk away from us! I also think that the cello really suits me more than other instruments.

Who has influenced your career most and why?
It’s impossible to name one person, as my career has been influenced by everyone involved! However, beginning with my teacher Leonid Gorokhov could be considered the real start of my desire to become a cellist.

What is the best piece of advice you could give a budding classical musician starting out?
Surround yourself with helpful, supportive people whom you trust and know will be honest with you. Never forget why you are doing what you are doing - it is a privilege to play such wonderful music as a job!

What is the largest and smallest audience you have played to?
The smallest audience would probably have been 1 animal - my dog, and the biggest has (I think) been at the Royal Festival Hall.

What is your favourite relaxation activity when not working?
I enjoy cooking, walking, reading and chatting to my friends!

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the power of music in education and about chocolate! (And many more serious things too..)

If you were to have a dinner party, which 3 people who would you invite (dead or alive) and why?
I would invite my paternal grandmother and her father because I never got the chance to meet them. My great-grandfather was a conductor and I would really love to sit down with him and hear all his stories and how he felt about music. I would also love to meet Johannes Brahms and get to know his personality. Of course there are many more people that I would like to have at a dinner party - 4 is not a very big group!

Do you have a favourite gadget, if so what is it?
I hate to say it, but it would have to be my phone. I use it a lot to keep in touch with my friends as I don’t see them often and they are spread around the globe!

In an alternate universe, if you were not a classical musician what other profession would you go into?
I am tempted to say I would like to be/ could be an astrophysicist but that would be lying. I am very interested in psychology, so that would be my other option.