At the end of March, just after lockdown, I was due to perform [the] Grace Williams Violin Concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales to be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and issued as the premiere recording of the work for Nimbus. This along with all my other concerts for months was postponed or cancelled, including a major solo tour of Japan last month as part of the Year of UKinJapan, with the Bruch Violin Concerto in Tokyo and recitals. Although I’ve kept practising during the entire time, going back to the classics, a few weeks ago I experienced profound grief and loss (triggered by listening to the Brahms Violin Concerto, one of my favourite works), about no longer being able to give concerts or make music with others – what I love to do and which I’ve spent my life doing for over three decades.

It was at that nadir that I saw on Twitter ‘Musicians for Musicians’ and thought I should stop feeling sorry for myself and offer my services to this fine project supporting other musicians. There are thousands of us in a very difficult position. When its founder Amelia Conway-Jones subsequently contacted me I was reminded that she had in fact been in my Practical Skills class at the Royal College of Music in 2004/5 and had played in the Orchestra of the Swan when I premiered a concerto written for me by Guto Puw, so I was delighted. She then asked if I had any new pieces written for me lately and although I didn’t (having recently recorded the latest work, by Robert Saxton), I then had the idea of approaching a friend of mine, the composer Richard Blackford. (We met at the centenary celebration of the RCM Tagore Gold Medals – he’d won it a few years before me – and has written two violin concerti). Not only did he agree to write me a short solo violin piece so I could record a track for the planned album, but it arrived extremely quickly. It’s a beautiful piece c.3′ entitled Worlds Apart, so apt for the current crisis. I had mentioned that one of the other sadnesses for me was being separated from a special person in my life because of travel restrictions due to the pandemic.

I shall be recording the piece later this week at home, as soon as my daughter (Zerlina Vulliamy) has completed her last online final exam for her Oxford Music degree, another feature and challenge of lockdown.

Madeleine Mitchell 8.6.20