The UN Orchestra Charity Concert in support of IOM's activities will take place on March 25 2017 in Geneva. Get your tickets here!
"I was born in Kampala, Uganda and was six years old when my father, who was a researcher and botanist specialising in animal migration at Makerere University, was fatally injured in a light aircraft crash. What with the worsening political situation in Uganda and the prospect of my mother having to bring up three young children on her own she was forced to move us to London and the family home.
After the immense skies and savannah of Africa, London was grey, wet and cold. Everybody looked so pale and unhealthy. We had been a family of bronzed adventurers living with a menagerie of animals and we were more accustomed to seeing zebra, giraffe and elephant on safari than London Buses! What made it even harder to fit in was the fact that we were bilingual English and Swahili and our everyday vocabulary was almost entirely in Swahili. Not so easy in 1970's London.
How did I start in music? I tried playing my grandpa's violin but it was alien to me! Then I saw a tuba on television and knew straight away that it was my dream instrument. I asked my Mum if I could play "that" instrument she thought "it" was called a trombone and when I was presented with this strange, skinny looking beast I refused to play it! A while later, at school, my music teacher came into the classroom holding a tuba and told us that there was a position available in the brass band and did anyone want to have a go. I jumped to my feet saying "Me,me!".
I was eleven. My love affair with the tuba had started and every lunchtime you could find me practicing like mad in the music room perched on a cushion because the tuba was too big for me! I was a first study tuba player and classical singer at the Royal Academy of Music in London and I became a professional opera singer, singing all over the world. Today you can hear me on stage as a member of the chorus of the Grand Theatre de Genève.
I love being a singer, it's my job and I adore it. Being in costume on the stage, singing some of the most extraordinary music ever written with amazing colleagues in such a great opera house is a real privilege. I play the tuba as much as I can principally with L'Harmonie Nautique de Geneve and I have the good fortune to acquire many interesting instruments. I heard that Antoine Marguier was looking for a tuba player for some concerts and I was thrilled to be able to join the orchestra especially for our fabulous tour to Korea where we gave a very poignant, improvised concert of
"Arirang" in the DMZ. As a member of the United Nations Orchestra I have discovered that there is a real "joie de vivre" in making music at a very high standard and that it is full of marvellous musicians from all over the world. Music is a language without borders or national impediment and if through our concerts we can somehow help to further the humanitarian goals of the UN that would be something very special indeed."
photo credit: IOM/muse mohammed