Meet Alice Sara Ott

Bryce Dessner wrote his new piano concerto for you. How did you get to know each other?

I’ve known and loved Bryce’s music for quite a while and so I was over the moon when he agreed to write a new piano concerto for me. We actually met for the first time at our premiere in Zurich, the day before our first rehearsal. We had been talking so much over the phone for the last year, so when I met him in person, I felt like I had known him for such a long time.

You’ve played the concerto in Zurich and Paris before bringing it to London. How did you prepare the piece?

Bryce and I heard the concerto for the first time at the rehearsal, which was a very special moment. We had the luxury of having two full rehearsals and a dress rehearsal, allowing me and the orchestra enough time to really get to know the work.

Have you worked with Elim Chan before?

I really look forward to London as it won’t be my first time working with Elim Chan, and she’s a really close friend of mine. We always talk through the piece a couple of weeks prior to a performance. We often find new ideas and new ways to play and I learn so much in the process. What I appreciate most about Elim is her openness, her curiosity and her devotion to her passion – music.

How different do you think the piece will sound in each performance?

It is a very challenging piece for me because Bryce also dedicated the piece his sister, who has been a huge inspiration to him both as a human being and as a dancer and choreographer. So, there are many dance elements in this concerto… and dancing is just something I have no talent for! But, at the first concert, it really came together, and the audience was so appreciative – I couldn’t have wished for a better premiere. I think no matter how much you work on a piece; the real growth starts the very first time you perform it in front of an audience. I’m very much looking forward to the journey ahead and seeing how this piece will develop in London.

You’ve played with the Philharmonia many times over the last decade or so – what stands out for you about this orchestra?

The Philharmonia has such a colourful and vibrant sound and is also so versatile. I’m very much looking forward to seeing familiar faces. It’s nice to have friends next to you on stage, both in the orchestra and with Elim Chan on the podium – so that makes a huge difference.
What do you enjoy most about being in London?
London is one of the places I come to at least two or three times a year. I never really get to see my friends at home, but when I’m in London, there’s a good chance three or four friends of mine are here!


Alice Sara Ott joins us to play the UK premiere of Bryce Dessner’s Piano Concerto in London on Thursday 15 February.