We caught up with Finalist Bella who will be playing the Mozart 2nd Violin Concerto in ERSO’s Mozart & Mendelssohn.
What is your main occupation at the moment?
I am currently studying for a Masters at Guildhall School of Music and Drama on the LSO Orchestral Artistry course.
What made you choose to play your instrument and how old were you when you started?
I sang and learnt piano with my mum from an early age. I was lucky to have the opportunity to start violin aged seven at primary school through Redbridge Music Service.
What made you choose the concerto that your will be playing?
My admiration for Mozart has increased through performing in his operas. I chose the second violin concerto because I enjoy its shifting moods from playful in the first movement; through consolation in the second, finishing with a joyful dance in the third.
What do you feel you would gain from the experience of playing this concerto with ERSO and Chris Stark?
It is a wonderful opportunity to perform this less frequently heard concerto in its entirety with ERSO and Chris Stark.
With out hisorical hat on, we found this article from The Musical Times in 1938. Although ERSO had only been in existence for a few years, it was already recognised as being largely made up of the “first rate orchestral players of tomorrow” and providing opportunities for young professionals as they bridged the gap between their training and a career. Not to mention being at the forefront of concerts for children….
We are so proud that what we do today, when ERSO is almost 90 years old, remains true to Ernest Read’s original vision.
Ernest Read was always keen to give chances for talented young performers to play as soloists early in their careers and we came across this concert in an old issue of the Musical Times in 1979.
Back then the Ernest Read Children’s Concerts took place at the Festival Hall with two concerts on the same day to allow maximum audience to attend. The concerts often featured talented young players and this was no exception – amongst the four featured string players from the Yehudi Menuhin School was 14 year old Tasmin Little who went on to become widely acclaimed as a concerto soloist, chamber musician and recording artist. She was joined by 16 year old Clare McFarlane who went on to win the string final of the BBC “Young Musician of the Year” competition in 1980 together with Elizabeth Layton and Caroline Henbest, all of whom went on to succesful musical careers.
Another former ERSO member (back when we were called the London Senior Orchestra) was Janet Craxton. She was an influential oboist, teacher and champion of new music and played with ERSO to gain orchestral experience prior to entering the Paris Conservatoire in 1948. When she returned was at immediately engaged as principal oboist of the Hallé Orchestra from 1949 to 1952. Janet went on to become principal oboe in the London Mozart Players from 1952 to 1954, the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1954 to 1963, the London Sinfonietta from 1969 to 1981, and the orchestra of the Royal Opera House from 1979 to 1981. She was appointed oboe professor at the Royal Academy of Music in 1958.
She was much in demand as a soloist, and gave world premières of works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Lennox Berkeley, Alan Rawsthorne, Elisabeth Lutyens, Elizabeth Maconchy, Richard Stoker and Priaulx Rainier. In 1958, she was co-dedicatee and original performer with the tenor Wilfred Brown of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ song cycle Ten Blake Songs.
Ernest Read, the founder of the Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra, was extremely keen to give the aspiring professional musicians who played in the orchestra the valuable opportunity to play as soloists. The first player to get this chance in 1931 was the young Evelyn Rothwell (also known as Evelyn Barbirolli), who went on to become one of the UK’s most famous oboists.
Legendary clarinetist Jack Brymer inspired a generation to take up the instrument. But he didn’t plan to be a professional musician and initially trained and worked as a PE teacher!
Brymer was ERSO’s principal clarinet in the late 1930’s and said that Ernest Read was “one of the most helpful friends I ever had, just as he had proved to be to hundreds of other young players to whom he gave, free of charge, the most valuable training.”
His life was transformed when a report of his playing in ERSO reached Sir Thomas Beecham via Dennis Brain, another ERSO player, as Beecham was looking to fill the principal clarinet role at the RPO.
Brymer thought it was a friend playing a trick when he got the call! Of course he got the job and started to make clarinet history.