The “healing power of music is needed now more than ever”, violinist Jennifer Pike has said.
She won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award at the age of 12 and has since built a successful career including playing at the BBC Proms, regular appearance at Wigmore Hall, working with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and also as a soloist.
She collected an MBE on Wednesday for her services to classical music from the Princess Royal in a ceremony at Windsor Castle.
Pike, 32, said: “I feel that in the dark times you need something to hold on to. I feel that music gives meaning to life.
“I cannot imagine there would be a single person in this pandemic who hasn’t experienced in some form an uplifting experience through music.”
She said “it might not be in the way that you expect” and could range from a jingle to introduce the news or something you might hear while you are out and about.
She said: “We have needed that, especially in these times. We have needed it to give joy and hope.
“I feel that there are many who can’t go out, who are suffering and can’t do their normal things, but somehow connect to music and art.”
Pike, of Cheadle Hulme in Stockport, Greater Manchester, said hearing live music during the ceremony made her “emotional”, and she could share the moment with sister Alexandra, who is an NHS doctor.
She said: “It makes a lovely change from pandemic times to have this lovely day and to celebrate it with my sister. Hearing the musicians playing live music during the ceremony made me very emotional. Live music is special.
“My sister came from Manchester to be with me. She is an NHS hospital doctor so she has had a really hard time. I am very proud of her. I feel that she and those she works with should be getting this award.”
Pike, who is of British and Polish heritage, has worked during her career to highlight lesser-known and under-represented composers, including curating a Polish Music Day at London’s Wigmore Hall in 2017, featuring specially commissioned works from Polish composers.
Last year she performed on the steps of Manchester Central Library, watched by Oscar-winner Vanessa Redgrave and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, to shine a light on the difficulties facing the arts sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said on Wednesday: “It has been hard. Musicians have spent over a year not being able to do what they love and need to (financially) survive. Only now music venues are starting to open up and even right now there is a lot of uncertainty (because of the new Covid-19 variant).
“I know that some venues are already making cancellations.”
She said “the pandemic has been hard for everyone” but cultural industries can help to comfort people.
She added: “Music can just reach through in those dark moments and sometimes give people strength to carry on.”