Music preview: Lloyd Webber returns to wow his fans in Yorkshire

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WHEN Julian Lloyd Webber performs at The Old Swan in Harrogate he will be returning to a town that holds a special place in his affections.

“It’s one of the very first places where I performed in public, aged 19,” he says.

Next month he’s back in the spa town when he opens Harrogate International Festival’s 21st Spring Sunday Series.

The series of concerts will be performed at the Old Swan Hotel from January to April and include some of the brightest musical talent from around the world.

He’ll be on stage with his wife when they perform Tale of Two Cellos, on January 26, featuring the music of Bach and Vivaldi through to that of his brother Andrew.

“It’s a completely new venture for me and for her but it’s good fun and we’re enjoying it and hopefully the audiences are too,” he says.

The renowned cellist comes from one of the world’s most famous musical families. His father, William Lloyd Webber, was a composer and organist and his mother Jean was a music teacher, not forgetting his brother.

Given their status in the music world surely there was a bit of sibling rivalry between the two of them when they were growing up? “Not really. We did share music interests but I was busy playing the cello and he was writing musicals. They’re very different so we didn’t really play music together.”

Nevertheless, they grew up in a house filled with music.

“We had a musical background and we were lucky to have that. My father had a very wide taste in music and I remember hearing all kinds of different things, everything from Shostakovich to the early rock ’n’ roll of people like Buddy Holly.

To get to the top in any profession, whether it’s art, sport, or music, requires painstaking practice and as a teenager Lloyd Webber was single-minded in his determination to be the very best he could – even if it meant his school work suffered as a result. He found school a hindrance rather than a help. “They say your school days are the happiest of your life but they weren’t for me. I felt straitjacketed. I wanted to be a soloist and I wanted to get on with it.”

But Lloyd Webber says remaining at the top requires the same tireless dedication that got you there in the first place.

“It’s not an easy profession in which to get firmly established, it takes time and hard work. A lot of people want to do it and as a soloist you’re only as good as your last performance.”

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