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Meet the Band!

We have great people in our band. They are from a variety of backgrounds, and all play for the love of music, while being in a supportive and friendly community of like-minded musicians.

We're going to introduce you to our players over the coming weeks...

Meet Alison Toop ("Ali Clari" - plays 1st Clarinet)

Where were you born? Cambridge

Why do you live in Leeds?

I moved here to be an undergraduate at the University of Leeds in 2007. I still live here because I love being in a compact yet energetic city that is so close to gorgeous countryside. 

What is your occupation?

Academic (more precisely I'm a Teaching Fellow in medical ethics and philosophy).

What’s your instrument, how long have you played, and why did you start?

I play clarinet (piano and voice).

I started piano when I was 4 - so 27 years ago - clarinet in primary school - and I took up singing lessons for a couple of years in high school when I had an arm injury (so couldn't play the other two). 

What made you join a concert band and why Tutti?

I stopped playing for a while during uni (the music societies were a bit too snooty and I wasn't quite good enough!) but found that I really missed it. I had a flyer for Horsforth music centre through the door in 2012/13 I think - and thought I'd give it a go. I've been with the band as it travelled to a new music centre - acquired a new leader - and eventually helped to set it up as an independent venture in 2018. I didn't want to lose the chance to play with such a lovely bunch of people - and to feel like I was a part of the local community (rather than just a outsider that came to Leeds as a student). 

What do you enjoy about playing with Tutti?

So many things! 

The people - everyone is so welcoming and it is so nice to be with a bunch of like-minded people who just love making music together (however many mistakes you make!). 

The chance to switch off and focus purely on the music for an hour and a half each week - it's like my therapy (my brain is constantly whirring with work, research, life admin etc. otherwise!). 

The level that we play at - and the ethos of the band: the music is just challenging enough that it feels like a real achievement when we get it just right - but not too hard so it isn't off-putting. Our conductor's mantra of 'strong and wrong' is super helpful as it boosts confidence and actually helps you identify and correct mistakes - ultimately helping us get better.  

Real coffee and cake: this doesn't require explanation (although we have some excellent bakers amongst us - so that does make this aspect even more enjoyable!)

What’s one of your favourite pieces in the repertoire and why?

"Puttin' On the Ritz": It's got a great groove - you can really feel the band getting into it - and that's great to be a part of. It also sounds pretty great (because we've practiced it so much over the years - so it's a sure way to boost the mood if you're struggling with another piece!) 

What has been an unexpected benefit or bonus of being in the band? 

Becoming more involved in community events, and the joy of making other people smile with live music. We've got to do loads of great concerts and performances over the years including: Tour de Yorkshire events; local scarecrow festivals; whilst people swim at Bramley Baths; and outside at a Christmas market (brr!) . 

Did I mention the coffee and cake? 

What do you look forward to most when the band can meet together again?

That sound - when all the band is playing together and we manage to get a piece 'just right'. Nothing can beat it - and nothing can emulate it online unfortunately. Oh … and cake.

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