Recently awarded an Honorary Masters Degree in November 2018 from The University of Derby, in recognition of her achievements in the field of music and her innovative and creative approach to classical music, Lizzie Ball is steadfastly becoming a woman to watch in the world of musical game-changers.
Known for her multiple skills across many musical styles as an internationally acclaimed violinist, vocalist, educator, and concert producer, Lizzie is a truly unique woman. She has gained great attention for her creation of her brand, Classical Kicks, a refreshing, down-to-earth approach to classical music performance and productions, which began its life as the very first classical night to happen at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club – where it consistently sold out for 4 years worth of shows, presenting everything from world famous string quartets to beat boxing flute players and East End female rappers all presented with a classical twist.
As a lead artist Lizzie has played on the world’s most famous stages with rock and roll’s royalty, has had several critically acclaimed US-wide, and European tours, and still manages to return to her northern roots to host her own Classical Kicks festival in Derbyshire each year.
Lizzie was born in Hathersage, Derbyshire, and attended her local comprehensive school Lady Manners School in Bakewell in the Peak District. Music played a big part in her early life. Her mother had wide-ranging musical tastes and her father was an accomplished jazz pianist. At the age of seven Lizzie heard a violin being played on the radio and decided in that moment that the violin was the instrument she wanted to play. At the age of 10 her mother took her to see a concert by the violinist Nigel Kennedy, she was memorably blown away by his totally unorthodox approach to classical music, even at that young age there was something about this approach that truly resonated with her.
Lizzie became leader of the City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra and after achieving top-grade A Levels, gained a place at St John’s College, Cambridge, to read Music where she became principal of the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra and an Instrumental Scholar. She undertook postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, where she studied under the master violinists Yossi Zivoni and David Takeno.
Lizzie has been a genre-crossing musician ever since her time at Cambridge and in her mid-twenties starting adding vocals to her performance. Her desire to present classical music to a wider audience has led to collaborations with a host of well-known artists including Rod Stewart, Russell Watson, Kanye West, Adele, Kylie, DJ and Bestival founder Rob da Bank and more recently as orchestra leader of an all female group directed by Grammy Award winner Steve Sidwell, for the much anticipated Ariana Grande at the BBC’ film, which aired just a few weeks ago on BBC1. (Nov 1 2018).
Fifteen years after first hearing him on stage, Lizzie encountered Nigel Kennedy at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. She told him that he had always been her musical inspiration and he reciprocated by asking her to invite him to her performances. After a few years of Nigel witnessing and keeping a close watch on how Lizzie’s career was progressing , in 2010 he contacted her with an invitation to duet with him and to become the concert master (lead violinist) for the European tour of his newly-formed Orchestra of Life, a job which Lizzie continues to enjoy, and has enjoyed for the past eight years, including several appearances with him as soloist at the Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham and Bridgewater Hall, as well as concerts in numerous prestigious European venues such as Berlin Philharmonie and Royal Festival Hall, together with Massive Attack’s Damon Reece and soul singer Carleen Anderson.
Other highlights of Lizzie’s career to date include solo collaborations with Jeff Beck and Brian Wilson between 2013-14 as a featured frontline band member with both artists. Lizzie has also appeared a featured artist with Judith Owen and Bryan Ferry, Grammy-nominated classical choir New York Polyphony, and the James Pearson Trio from Ronnie Scott’s. Performance highlights include headlining as a soloist with Jeff Beck at Madison Square Garden, New York, for Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013 and several critically acclaimed US tours of over 60 cities to date. Lizzie also appeared alongside Brian Wilson as a featured violinist and vocalist , performing iconic songs from Pet Sounds on a Double Bill tour of the U.S with Jeff Beck that included venues such as the historic Greek Theatre in L.A and Beacon Theatre in New York. Another standout career moment was leading the historical Palestine Prom for BBC Proms 2013, which involved a collaboration between the Orchestra of Life and the young Palestine Strings with Nigel Kennedy as soloist/musical director at the Royal Albert Hall. The press wrote “Lizzie Ball lit the place on fire with one of her solos” (San Francisco Chronicle). The US Rolling Stone Magazine wrote “the audience seemed mesmerised by the entire thing, especially when young violinist Lizzie Ball took a solo, and channeled Mary Ford’s Vocals on Les Paul’s How high the Moon”.
Lizzie has more recently (Nov 2018) been leaving her mark on Lithuania where her recent performances reached multiple national press interest. This collaboration with Lithuanian-born internationally known accordion superstar Martynas Levickis (who released his debut album on Decca in the UK in 2013), and his exciting new young recently state-funded orchestra ‘Mikrookestra’, received an overwhelming standing ovation after Lizzie appeared as her favourite trinity of violin soloist, orchestra director, and vocal soloist, playing an all English programme of Elgar, Holst and Walton, to honour the fallen for Remembrance Day, in St. Catherine’s Church, a former prison for POW’s in World War Two.
Lizzie is passionate about outreach projects and has given hundreds of workshops for various orchestras and projects over the years, involving visits to a wide range of establishments from private boarding schools to Pupil Referral Units, and loves working with young people. More recently Lizzie has been working locally with the brilliant Sheffield Music Hub on a number of projects, including an original commission for a piece for Electric violin and orchestra called ‘The Lone Star’ in partnership with Hugh Sykes Charitable Trust. This piece was composed by Andy Smith together with the children of 6 schools of over 200 children in the Sheffield are in who all also participated in the concert premiere of the piece in December 2017 in Sheffield Cathedral. Lizzie has also become Ambassador for PRISMA, a charity founded by her colleague Morgan Szymanski to help children in need in Mexico by providing arts workshops to rural underdeveloped areas of Mexico. So far the project has reached over 10,000 children in just two years of existence.
More recently, Lizzie has just given a world premiere to international press acclaim in early November at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for her originally created Production, a co-creation with fellow female creative, Producer , Writer and Director Emily Blacksell (whose CV includes work with Sir Paul McCartney and Sally Greene to name but a few) Corrido: A Ballad for the Brave. This is an immersive audio-visual journey about the life and times of Frida Kahlo and her contemporaries, featuring Lizzie’s own compositions alongside Mexican and classical music pieces, paired with originally created animated film and video design -all in a unique collaboration an extraordinary team of creatives and musicians. The premiere of Corrido was in association with the V and A’s acclaimed exhibition of Frida’s own personal items and clothing, named ‘Making Her Self Up’.