Interview: the hand to mouth existence of a top professional musician

Sally Pryce is a harpist who lives in Reading. She enjoys a busy freelance life as a soloist, chamber musician and with many UK orchestras, including the brilliant Aurora Orchestra (check out their sensational presentation of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique from the BBC Proms, which was re-aired recently). She has appeared as soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St Martins in the Fields, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Britten Sinfonia.

She was recently interviewed by Bill Buckley of BBC Radio Berkshire, who asked her whether playing at the very highest level with such prestigious orchestras meant that she was paid like a rock star and comfortably off. Her reply may surprise you:

‘It’s hand to mouth, it really is…the fees we get, they pay our bills and help support my children, but it really is month to month. If I don’t have a busy month, I have to budget very carefully and if I have a good month, then I have to make sure that can tide me over for the lean times…you don’t really have that much in the kitty to survive.’

Sally Pryce, harpist, speaking on BBC Radio Berkshire

Here’s Sally’s interview in full. She appeared as part of a segment which included Chi-chi Nwanoku, double bassist and founder of the Chineke! Foundation, and APO’s music director, Andrew Taylor, all talking about how Covid-19 has affected freelancers. Andrew specifically talked about our crowdfunding campaign to help musicians through the crisis, by funding a concert for which they are paid now, but will take place once all Covid19-related restrictions have been lifted.