Caroline Dearnley

Cello - Britten Sinfonia, Britten Oboe Quartet, Sessions
January 4, 2016

Cello / Milanese / iPad / Classical

Caroline Dearnley

Who are you and what do you do?

Hi! My name is Caroline Dearnley and I am a free-lance classical cellist based in north London. My career is varied and challenging and brings me into contact with a pool of very talented, inspirational, interesting and funny fellow musicians with whom I am lucky enough to collaborate.

I graduated from the Royal College of Music back in 1984 and started out giving solo and chamber music concerts at clubs and festivals around the country… my trusty (and rusty) Datsun Cherry bombing up and down the motorway loaded with people and instruments.

I also worked as a regular ‘extra’ player with the Philharmonia Orchestra (some amazing repertoire, tours and conductors) and on a lighter note, the Royal Philharmonic Pops Orchestra where I had the most laugh-out-loud fun of my career!

In the early 1990s I was asked to join the Britten Sinfonia, a new chamber orchestra on the block, as their principal cello. It always had a special innovative vibe, some great players and an interesting mix of old and new repertoire which is why I am still there almost 25 years later!

Three other principals from Britten Sinfonia make up my other regular chamber group. Nick Daniel (oboe), Jackie Shave (violin), Clare Finnimore (viola) and myself on cello make up the Britten Oboe Quartet. We have been giving concerts together for the last ten years and are recording our first disc together this January to be released by Harmonia Mundi USA.

Britten Oboe Quartete

Wearing a different hat, I am a London session musician recording for TV & film soundtracks (4 James Bond films, Lord of The Rings, Gladiator, Harry Potter and… Sponge-Bob Square Pants movie to name a few!).

What do you use?

My instrument is a beautiful old Milanese cello made in 1740. You have to love your instrument… it is after all your musical ‘voice’ and it becomes your precious life-long companion. I managed to buy it 30 years ago before having a mortgage or a family!

Caroline Dearnley

When I have new pieces to learn I take myself, my cello, music and scores, a couple of 4B pencils (with rubbers!), my iPad and headphones and a cup of tea down the garden to our music studio and settle in for, ideally a few days. If I’m busy working I have to fit the practice time in whenever/wherever possible… snatching an hour here and there between gigs.

I recently had to perform a very long, complex piece (15 pages and no opportunity to turn) using my iPad and a remote control foot pedal for the page turns. It’s definitely the future!

What would be your dream set up?

If money were no object I would buy:

  1. a pro iPad where I wouldn’t have to wear my glasses to see the notes!
  2. an even more amazing old Italian cello… possibly a Stradivarius!
  3. a model D Steinway Grand piano to live in my studio for summer evening musical soireés!!