Celebrated Violinist Jennifer Pike to Perform Father’s ‘Elegy For Ukraine’ at Trinity College, Oxford

by Madonna

Jennifer Pike, an acclaimed violinist renowned for her virtuosity, extensive list of awards and recognitions, including an MBE in 2020, and performances at illustrious venues, finds solace in returning to Oxford, where she once thrived as a student. Her Sunday afternoon recital at Trinity College is a nostalgic journey to her student days.

“Oxford is such a beautiful place, and I absolutely loved being a student there, so I’m really looking forward to Sunday,” she expresses. “I have such great memories of cycling to lectures, popping into coffee shops, sitting in the library reading books, and meeting people who were not musicians, all of which were wonderful. So even if it was hard work, especially when I was still performing in concerts at the time, it’s always very nostalgic coming back.”


Having graduated with First Class Honors in Music from Lady Margaret Hall in 2012, Jennifer has achieved great heights in the classical music world. When did she first discover her passion for music? “I remember being 9 and performing in a concert in Manchester (where she still lives), and looking out at the audience, and it was such a wonderful sensation – to be able to make people happy like that, to visibly affect them through music. It was a wonderful feeling.”


However, the journey required significant sacrifices, particularly by her family. She recalls her parents opting for local holidays due to the financial commitment of her music lessons and overseas performances. “But I’m very, very lucky because I always knew I had it in me.”


Winning Young Musician Of The Year at the age of 12 was a pivotal moment. “It was a great stepping stone. Would I have gotten there without it? Yes, it opened lots of doors, and people knew who I was, but I always think that if you miss one opportunity, another will come along. The world will keep turning for you. And both success and failure help you to grow. It’s trying to find a balance that’s the hardest thing.”

Does she have any limitations as a musician? “I always liken musicians to athletes. You might be able to do a double pike but have to work really hard at the bars. It’s about muscle memory but also about putting hours and hours of work into your training to make sure you have the right stamina and mental agility.”

However, it’s the variety in her repertoire that keeps her engaged, presenting an ever-changing musical landscape that keeps her on her toes. This includes performing her father’s compositions – British composer Jeremy Pike – with his “Elegy For Ukraine” featured in Sunday’s program. “I do enjoy playing my father’s music, but it still needs to have an unbiased approach – to let the music speak for itself. He wrote it in 2022 to show solidarity with the Ukrainians and has cascading rhythms like a river, so it’s really special. Having grown up with my father composing at the piano, I’m in a better position than most to understand it, I suppose, so I just want to do it justice.”

Is performing getting any easier with experience? “It still takes months of planning and preparation, as well as years to interpret the music. But performing is always different, so I still love getting out there and going through that experience with an audience. It’s enormously addictive.”

Jennifer Pike will perform a repertoire featuring works by Lili Boulanger, Beethoven, Debussy, and Grieg, alongside Martin Roscoe on the piano. She emphasizes the privilege of performing with Martin, who intuitively complements her dynamics and spontaneity without the need for signals. “So I hope people enjoy the concert and get the most out of it. I can’t wait to come back.”


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