I started playing the cello when I was three years old. Its large wooden body dwarfed my tiny one, and every week my father would drive past gardens, me peering out the window to watch dogs running leashless and looking for magnolias, shouting “Another one!” every time I spotted the pink blooms. This was the route to my cello teacher’s home – a Russian woman with wild hair who taught me how to make the instrument sing.
My childhood was a blur of eisteddfods, radio performances, at-home concerts and orchestra rehearsals. My hands ran up and down the instrument’s slender neck, and adults cried when I played, but all it was to me was A grades and practices with my mother accompanying on piano, telling me what the music should feel and sound like. I liked pop punk bands and dead white guys singing about weird things – it didn’t mean much to me.