A Lunch with Joy Sigaud

They say good work is it’s own reward. Perhaps composer and philanthropist Joy Sigaud would agree, having donated the funds she raised from her highly anticipated “One Night At The Palace” private concert which took place at The Orangery and Kensington Palace in September.

Joy, who had her first piano lesson at aged 4 followed the family tradition of learning to play an instrument  and her love of music is inherited from her father and grandfather who both played several instruments including the Harp, Organ and Classical guitar. However, to reach the heights of entertaining Royalty, foreign diplomats and members of our high society with her music – it is almost hard to believe Joy had taken several breaks before returning to the keys, not to mention composing.

“I started playing the piano aged 4 and took my first grade exam a year later. I loved all kinds of music from a very early age but my mother did not allow me to play pop music, although my father, who could play simply by hearing a piece would entertain me with ragtime and ska beat whenever she was out. I developed a complete dislike for the Mozart minuets and endless scales that I had to learn in those days and when my elderly wheelchair bound piano teacher, Mrs Tracey,  could not teach anymore my piano lessons came to a halt.”

It would be ten years before Joy would take to the piano a second time at the age of 14. “The problem at that time was is that when you are fourteen, there are so many other things that seem interesting to you.” Joy’s third attempt to resume lessons is attributed to a rendition of Tchaikovsky in B flat minor whilst at a friends house one summer.

It took me four hours to learn to play the first few bars. Notes upon notes upon lines, I had never seen such music and had to hear what it sounded like! I struggled relentlessly and loved every minute. That was the day I fell in love with classical music – I might add here that no piano teacher I had has ever allowed me to even attempt to play that piece, yet it remains my favourite.”

Joy’s composing success can be attributed to a number of reasons. Firstly, her talent  is one that amazes even herself due to her own admission that she is not classically trained, nor has completed many of the exams someone takes to be proficient. Instead, Joy’s talent has been nurtured by several teachers and has developed this proficiency through the enjoyment of learning, offering Joy the chance to learn music rather than exam pieces- making Joy Sigaud an almost unencumbered in the way she plays and composes music.

This does not take away from the excellence of Joy’s work. Her lack of formal training does not mean she is weak, to the contrary.  She offers to us a success story; one in which I was personally inspired since Joy’s success is not reliant on a piece of paper which validates her, but one in which validation is found through her hard work and achievements.

At her most recent concert, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Joy made  donations to Alpha Boys School in Jamaica who have said “this substantial donation will enable us to integrate an entire music programme into the curriculum”. The donation made to Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity ” will service 3 families with a terminally ill child for an entire year.” Further donations were made to Wigmore Hall and Chain of Hope.

It is through hearing Joy’s story that I find a well wishing from Buckingham Palace no surprise. The story of a composer who found success through forging her own path, one which defies convention to eclipse expectations, is a story that inspires me personally and anyone else fortunate enough to hear her story.

Joy Sigaud & Philharmonia Orchestra’s One Night at the Palace is know available for download from itunes