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An interview with Havilland Willshire

Mon 11 June 2018

Havilland Willshire joined the Faculty of Music at Trinity Laban as Assistant Director and Head of Performance in 2014 and is now Interim Director of Music. He recently chatted with us about some vitally important topics, such as what he would buy first if he became an overnight millionaire…

(Interview by Claire Twyman, Student Communications Manager)

What have you most enjoyed about your career at Trinity Laban so far? 

I think it has to be the people. Students from all over the world come to study at the conservatoire, and it’s really nice to learn about their cultures and approaches to music making. It’s also great to be part of their learning process – that is the most exciting thing really.

Have you always had ambitions to be a musician?

The honest answer is I became a musician because I wasn’t good enough to be a cricketer *laughs*! But music has always come naturally to me – it has ended up taking over my life and I am very pleased about that.

If you had to listen to only one piece of music for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?

That’s a difficult question, but probably Schumann’s Fantasie in C. It’s like a really good novel – the more you listen to it the more you realise how much there is to find out about it, and how little you really know of it. It’s inspiring really.

Who else inspires you?

I could talk about plenty of musicians, sports people and actors – including Billy Boyd who I once met [Billy Boyd played Pippin in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy]. But one of the people that has left a lasting impression on me is David Miliband [former Foreign Secretary].

I was at an education conference many years ago, and he was the keynote speaker. I was terribly impressed by the way he took questions from well-informed, key figures in the industry. He jotted down aspects of each question so he could address them fully in turn, and I could tell that the audience was satisfied with his answers. He should run classes in public speaking!

Which Trinity Laban performance has most inspired you?

There are a couple. Without question, the wind orchestra conducted by Timothy Reynish in 2015 was incredible. It was just a really sparky, focussed, sharp, high-level performance. Everybody responded to him. I was also inspired by a symphony strings performance with Andy Sherwood. The musicians were playing from memory which was impressive.

What is the first thing you would buy if you became an overnight millionaire?

I’d buy a Steinway piano, Model B. It is low-maintenance, reliable, they project really well and can do almost anything a pianist wants it to do. It’s a good investment too at only £85,000 – I’d have plenty of money left!

Wise choice. Final question – if you had a superpower, which would you choose and why?

I’m not sure I would want one. It would give me too much freedom.

You have to choose one!

Well whatever the superpower would be, I would want to use it to help support people and change lives. I’d love to go somewhere to help build schools or something like that.