Sally Beamish knows what it's like to be right at the centre of an orchestra. As a violist she was always in the thick of things; as a composer she's there again, only inside her head.

Sally writes vital, graspable, music with a strong narrative pull. Many of her inspirations are extra-musical - like the violin concerto she wrote for Anthony Marwood where the unlikely source material was the seminal war novel All Quiet on the Western Front. That's one of 13 concertos she has written to date and her latest, premiered at the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester in December - entitled "The Song Gatherer" - is the second she has written for cellist Robert Cohen.

Sally is herself a song gatherer of sorts - most of her pieces derive from song in one way or another and the singers, be they human or instrumental, give her pieces a strong lyric core. She's written a musical, too - a kind of Scottish Fiddler on the Roof - and she's currently working with jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis.

Sally believes she has a responsibility to give her audience a way in to her music and this lively conversation with Edward Seckerson might be a good place to start...

To listen to the full recording of the Q&A, click the 'play' button below; or to subscribe and download from iTunes, click here.