Countercurrent Podcast

About the Podcast: Countercurrent with Professor Roger Kneebone

A podcast for people who like the unexpected. Join the surgeon and academic Professor Roger Kneebone in conversation with unorthodox people whose careers defy traditional boundaries and who swim against the tide.

With grateful thanks to Justin Margovan for his expert production support for Countercurrent since the start.

Many of the people in Countercurrent feature in my book Expert: Understanding the Path to Mastery (Penguin Viking, 2020).

Available to listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Libsyn.

LATEST EPISODE

Siobhan Davies in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Dame Siobhan (Sue) Davies has had a long career in contemporary dance. Initially at the London Contemporary Dance Theatre, Sue established Siobhan Davies Dance Company in 1988. Her studio - Siobhan Davies Studios - was designed by Sarah Wigglesworth within the shell of a Victorian school building in Southwark. Now Sue makes films, including ‘All This Can Happen’ (2012).

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Music

22/1/24

Helen Anahita Wilson in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Helen Anahita Wilson trained as a pianist and spent years performing contemporary compositions in the UK. She then became immersed in the complex rhythmical structures of Indian music. In 2019 she was about to travel to India at the start of her PhD when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy during the Covid pandemic. She used these experiences to develop new musical forms, drawing on sonic expressions of biological processes in humans and plants. Her latest work linea naturalis is based on plants in the Chelsea Physic Garden. https://www.helenanahitawilson.com

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04/09/2023

James Eastaway in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Dr James Eastaway trained as a doctor while developing his career as a leading Baroque oboeist and working in experimental theatre. As a musician he plays in some of the UK and Europe’s leading ensembles, while as a doctor he is a GP in a South London training practice. We discuss the excitements and challenges of keeping these multiple strands in play at the same time.

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24/04/2023

Ann Martin-Davis in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Ann Martin-Davis is an award-winning pianist who performs as a soloist and chamber musician all over the world. In addition to her performing and recording career she is passionate about teaching. We explore parallels between our experiences of teaching, coaching and other dimensions of our professional careers.

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13/02/2023

Ana Silvera in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Ana Silvera’s work defies orthodox categories, spanning folk, jazz, pop, classical and many other traditions. In addition to her recordings she works in ballet and theatre and collaborates widely. She is also an interpreter of Ladino song.

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10/10/2022

Iain Burnside in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Iain Burnside studied at Oxford University, the Royal Academy of Music and the Chopin Academy in Warsaw. As a freelance pianist, he specialises in song repertoire and has collaborated in performances and recordings with many of the world’s leading singers. In his recently formed Trio Balthasar, he performs a wide range of repertoire with violinist Michael Foyle and cellist Timothy Hugh. Iain is also a writer and broadcaster, and for many years presented BBC Radio 3’s Voices, for which he won a Sony Radio Award. He is Artistic Director of the Ludlow English Song Weekend. http://finalnotemagazine.com/articles/iain-burnside/

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18/03/2022

Ben Griffiths in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Ben Griffiths has been the Aurora Orchestra’s Principal double bass player since 2012. The orchestra is widely known for its electrifying performances of symphonies played entirely from memory. In this conversation we examine role of risk in professional performance, whether in music or medicine.

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22/11/2021

Simon Mulligan in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Equally at home with jazz, classical repertoire and works by contemporary composers, Simon Mulligan is one of the world’s leading pianists. A gifted composer himself, Simon has worked with musicians from many traditions. In this conversation we explore ideas around improvisation, genres and technical skill - and talk about responding to unexpected disasters.

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05/07/2021

Teresa Cahill in conversation with Roger Kneebone

From her early days as a Principal at the Royal Opera House, Teresa Cahill has sung all over the world and worked with leading opera companies and conductors. She has a wide and eclectic repertoire and a longstanding fascination with bel canto. In addition to performing she is a professor in the vocal department of Trinity Laban, London. In this conversation we explore parallels between our interests and professional worlds.

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21/06/2021

David Hockings in conversation with Roger Kneebone

David Hockings is Head of Percussion at the Royal College of Music and Principal Percussionist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He’s much in demand as a performer and a teacher and has worked with all the major London symphony orchestras. As Principal Percussionist with the London Sinfonietta he plays highly demanding contemporary music involving a wide range of instruments. He’s passionate about education and has worked with communities and disadvantaged people all over the world. In the podcast we explore points of connection between our worlds of music and medicine and discuss what it means to lead and inspire.

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31/05/2021

Martin Taylor in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Martin is a solo jazz and finger style guitarist who has won countless awards and performed all over the world. He started his career at the age of three. A self-taught guitarist, he has played with some of the world’s leading musicians, including Stephane Grappelli, George Harrison, Bill Wyman and Chet Atkins. He is an inspirational teacher and established the Martin Taylor Guitar Academy in 2010.

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03/05/2021

Robert Saxton in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Robert Saxton is a distinguished composer and professor of composition who has worked with many of the world’s leading musicians. In this podcast we explore parallels between the worlds of music, medicine and writing.

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05/04/2021

David Dolan in conversation with Roger Kneebone

David Dolan is a concert pianist, teacher and researcher who has spent much of his career reintegrating classical improvisation into his performances. This is in the spirit of what was standard practice in musical performance up until the twentieth century. In this podcast we explore the idea of improvisation in classical music and in conversation.

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02/11/2020

Hannah Peel in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Hannah Peel has a distinguished career as a musician. As a composer and performer she works with a wide variety of styles and approaches. Her latest soundtrack album is for The Deceived (Channel 5). In this podcast we discover unexpected parallels between our worlds of music and medicine and agree on the importance of close listening.

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05/10/2020

Sheridan Tongue in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Sheridan Tongue is a composer, performer and songwriter, well known for composing music for programmes including Silent Witness and the recent BBC Northern Ireland series Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History. In this podcast we explore points of connection between his career and mine, especially around the need for attentiveness, team-working and and close listening in our work.

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07/09/2020

Ollie Howell in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Ollie Howell is a jazz performer and composer whose career crosses many disciplinary boundaries. As a music student specialising in jazz drumming, Ollie needed neurosurgery for an Arnold-Chiari malformation of the brain. While recovering he composed his first album Sutures and Stitches. Since then he was awarded a prestigious Sky Academy Arts Scholarship, which gave him the freedom to develop his career in new directions. Now his focus is on composing music for film and television. In this podcast we discuss the excitements and challenges of crossing disciplinary boundaries.

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27/07/2020

Howard Williams in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Howard Williams is a distinguished musician who has conducted many leading orchestras in the UK and across the world, including the English National Opera and Royal Ballet. He is professor of conducting at the Royal College of Music and has a particular interest in teaching conductors. In this conversation we explore parallels between our experiences, discussing similarities and differences between music and medicine. Finally we discuss Howard’s experience of teaching conducting in silence.

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01/06/2020

Tabitha Tuckett in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Tabitha Tuckett’s career has moved across poetry, Classics and Renaissance literature. She has been an editor at the Oxford English Dictionary. As a musician she specialises in baroque cello and has performed and taught extensively. In this podcast we explore what it means to cross disciplinary boundaries and discuss ideas around identity and change.

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20/04/2020

George Waddell in conversation with Roger Kneebone

A pianist by training, George Waddell’s many interests include the evaluation of performance and the role of technologies in music education. Brought up in rural Manitoba (where his parents are both vets), he studied piano in Brandon before moving to London for his PhD in performance science at the Royal College of Music. He researches and teaches performance across domains of expert practice.

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25/12/2019

Emma Kirkby in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Emma Kirkby is a distinguished soprano, well known for her pioneering performances and recordings of Renaissance and Baroque music. In this conversation we explore perspectives around music and silence, and how early music performances are a conversation between voices, instruments, audiences and space.

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02/12/2019

Paul Smith in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Paul Smith has been singing since he was a child. In 2005 he co-founded VOCES8, now one of the worlds leading vocal ensembles, with his brother Barnaby. He is passionate about music education and the importance of music at all stages of life. We explore how VOCES8 combine vocal precision with intensive listening and discuss parallels with the world of medicine.

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28/10/2019

Simon Callaghan in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Simon Callaghan is an international concert pianist who performs and records all over the world. In this conversation we discuss the nature of performance, the role of memorisation and the ability to improvise in response to different contexts.

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05/10/2019

Ben Marks in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Ben Marks trained as a conservator and restorer of historical pianos, working with Lucy Coad in the West Country. Now he is responsible for seventeen early keyboard instrument, the oldest of which is over 450 years old. We discuss Ben’s relationship of care with fragile and irreplaceable instruments which nevertheless need to be played and explore how his experience resonates with mine in the world of medicine.

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23/09/2019

Petur Jonasson in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Petur is Head of Classical Guitar at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. He studied classical guitar in Mexico and Spain. He is a performer of contemporary music as well as more traditional repertoire. He has an interest in music technology, plays in a rock band and is currently studying for a PhD at the Royal College of Music. He divides his time between London and Reykjavik.

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05/08/2019

Pete Atkin in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Pete Atkin’s collaboration with Clive James led to six ground-breaking LPs in the 1970s, starting with Beware of the Beautiful Stranger. Narrowly avoiding stardom, Pete’s career then took a different direction and he became a radio producer for the BBC. He is perhaps best known for his series This Sceptr’d Isle on BBC Radio 4, which ran to 396 fifteen minute episodes and covered British history from 55 BC to the present.

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12/11/2018

Sarah Angliss in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Sarah Angliss defies conventional definition. A multitalented creator of musical scores and an expert performer, she describes herself as a composer. With degrees in electroacoustics and robotics and a fascination with musical automata, Sarah’s interests cut across orthodox categories.

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13/11/2017

Hans Johannsson in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Hans Johannsson is one of Iceland’s most distinguished luthiers. He has been making violins, cellos and double basses for over 40 years. This conversation, recorded in Reykjavik at the 2017 International Symposium on Performance Science, explores the embodied ways of knowing on which violin-making and medicine both depend. In it we uncover unexpected intersections between science, art and craftsmanship.

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17/04/2017

Liam Noble in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The jazz pianist Liam Noble and I explore how improvisation and creativity are as important in the operating theatre and the medical consulting room as on the stage of a jazz venue.

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06/03/2017

Sophie Yates in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The distinguished harpsichordist Sophie Yates is well known for her interpretations of early keyboard music, through live performances, radio and recordings. Sophie combines an explorer’s fascination for finding new repertoire with a passion for teaching and for performance. In this conversation we find unexpected similarities between music and medicine.

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06/02/2017

Bill Badley in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Plucked string instruments run through Bill Badley’s career. As a lutenist he founded and toured with the Dufay Collective, a mediaeval ensemble. Fascinated by the music and cultures of the Arab world - especially the oud, forerunner of the European lute - he travelled extensively in the countries of the Middle East. Bill has worked in theatre, film and television as a documentary maker and producer. In a further career switch, he is now teaching children and young people.

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11/01/2017

Ian Lush in conversation with Roger Kneebone

Ian Lush trained as a musician, spending several years as a professional viola player before moving to arts management. After being marketing director at the Barbican he managed the London Mozart Players before taking up his present role as Chief Executive of Imperial College Healthcare Charity. In our conversation we explore similarities and differences between our careers and the changes in direction we have both experienced.

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25/07/2016

Jeremy Jackman in conversation with Roger Kneebone

The choral conductor Jeremy Jackman and I explore parallels between our experiences in the operating theatre and the ’scratch orchestra’, where experts who have never met come together for high-stakes performance. Jeremy describes how his early years in the King’s Singers evolved into his current work bringing orchestras, soloists and choirs together.

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