What's it like to be James Wilson?

A short, informal question and answer interview with James Wilson.

Originally published in 2005.

1. How and when did you get interested in composing?

Almost from infancy. I don't know why.

2. Is composing your 'day job' or do you do something else as well?

Nothing else.

3. Where do you mostly get your ideas?

Can be from anywhere, or possibly, everywhere.

4. What are you working on at the moment?

Four-character comic opera, Stuffed Raspberries, in two acts.

5. Describe your typical working day.

As someone who lives alone, I don't really have a typical working day.

6. What is it like hearing a new piece played for the first time?

I spend the time watching for the next hurdle to be cleared. It is important to me that the performers should like the work; the audience reaction is a secondary matter.

7. What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Premiere of Grinning at the Devil in Copenhagen.

8. What has been the lowlight of your career so far?

Rejection of my first symphony by the proposed conductor, when the piece had been accepted by RTE. The symphony was later performed under another conductor.

9. What is your greatest ambition?

To keep on writing.

10. Which musician in history do you most admire and why?

Mozart, because he is Mozart.

11. Which present-day musician do you most admire and why?

Impossible to say.

12. Which period of history would you most like to have lived in and why?


13. What is the best thing about being a composer?

That you do not retire.

14. What is the worst thing about being a composer?

People who tell you that music is a nice hobby.

15. If you weren't a composer, what other career might you have chosen?

Cook or Gardener.

16. What is your concept of heaven?

A Buckinghamshire, or possibly Suffolk, village in June.

17. What is your concept of hell?

Schonberg's string trio.

18. What is your favourite food?

Rack of spring lamb and green peas.

19. If someone gave you three months off with unlimited travel and living expenses, what would you do?

Stay at home. I've done all the traveling I need.

20. If you could have one thing in the world that would really help you as a composer, what would it be?

A musically literate slave.