Playing on the score of film and television programmes is all part of the job for cellist Gabriella Swallow.
The ex-Spalding schoolgirl says she’s incredibly privileged to have worked on several of the nation’s favourite shows including Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey, the latter of which returns to our television screens next month.
Gabriella (33) has worked on the period drama penned by Sir Julian Fellowes since its first series in 2010 and also plays on the theme tune.
“I have been really lucky and privileged to have worked on Downton since the first series and the time we recorded the theme tune,” says Gabriella, who was a pupil at Ayscoughfee Hall School, before gaining a scholarship to Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester - the UK’s largest, specialist, independent music school.
“As a session musician you never know what to expect when you turn up to work at a studio and it’s always been a lovely surprise when it’s been to work on Downton.
“John Lunn is a wonderful composer and the musicians really respect him. When he won his Emmy he bought it to the studio to share the moment with us.”
After leaving Spalding when she was nine, Gabriella studied in Manchester until she was 18, before gaining a place at the Royal College of Music, where she played under the tutelage cellist Jerome Pernoo.
Described as one of the most exciting and versatile cellists of her generation, Gabriella has carved out a niche for herself, proving it’s possible to play both classical and contemporary music.
She has collaborated with an eclectic mix of composers, musicians and singers including Charlotte Church, Nigel Kennedy, Sade and Skunk Anansie as well as performing with the Gwilym Simcock Quartet.
“I got opportunities very young to work with artists like Sade and Charlotte Church and I was playing music I was passionate about, which showed it was possible to have a relationship with both worlds,” she explains.
“Yes, you’ve got Mozart and Bach, but what I really cared about was, ‘was it good?’ I didn’t care who wrote it.”
More recently Gabriella, who plays a cello by Charles Harris Senior built in 1820 and an electric version by Starfish Designs, has been enjoying taking her music to a wider audience by performing at numerous UK and European festivals.
While in 2010 she co-founded the duo G-Project with percussionist Genevieve Wilkins and earlier this year she launched her first classical club night under her own name - Gabriella Swallow and her Urban Family - at The Forge in Camden.
“I enjoy bringing music to a very different audience. But it’s about more than just the music – it’s very much a whole show, just as an actor puts on.
“I believe in the music being good and at the moment I’m having fun with it, working with like-minded people,” she said.