Question of Taste: My grandmother used to bring Dad up on stage in a Moses basket

Séamus Hickey, 20, is from the Lough in Cork. He studies viola at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and chamber music with the Nederlandse Strijkkwartet Academie and various quartets.

Until 2018, he studied at CIT Cork School of Music. For the Ortús Chamber Music Festival in Cork (February 28 to March 1), he will be performing a new work, commissioned by the festival, as part of an ensemble that includes his sister, Mairéad Hickey.

Full details of the festival are at ortusfestival.ie

Seamus Hickey will play at Ortús, Cork.
Seamus Hickey will play at Ortús, Cork.

Best recent book you’ve read: No-one is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg, a short read. It’s the message that is important.

Best recent film you’ve seen: The Nightingale, set in Tasmania in about 1825 during the period of colonisation.

Best recent gig you’ve seen: Last month I saw Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Anna Prohaska with Camerata Bern at Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, playing music from the 11th to 21st centuries. It was a inspirational concert, pushing the boundaries of our expectations.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): Recently I’ve been listening to Brahms and Schumann’s string quartets.

First ever piece of music that really moved you: It’s impossible to name just one piece of music but Irish trad definitely has a power over me.

Tell us about your TV viewing: I don’t have a TV in my house.

Radio listening and/or podcasts: If I’m ever listening to something, then it’s music.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why? I would like to go back to before the Industrial Revolution to breathe unpolluted air.

You are curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill (living or dead)? Beethoven, Bill Evans and Capital STEEZ. Beethoven for the drama, Bill Evans for the pleasure and Capital STEEZ for the message.

Do you have any interesting ancestors or family? My grandmother played the fiddle and used to play in céilí bands and sessions all around London, after she moved there from Ireland to work. Although she was too busy raising a family and working to teach any of her children how to play, she used to take my dad, the youngest of her five children, in a Moses basket to sit on the stage when she played in céilí bands in the dance halls of London. My dad taught céilí bands as I was growing up. I gained a tremendous amount as a person and as a musician from playing the fiddle and the drums in those bands.

Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve: Christopher Marwood for all the work he does for chamber music in Ireland and all those like him. Few people are aware of the amount of work needed behind the scenes which is done voluntarily in order to ensure that art is kept alive and accessible to the widest possible audience.

You are king of the music business for a day — what’s your first decree? To find and support musicians whose circumstances prevent them from sharing their art freely.

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