Alison Stewart

In by Alison Stewart

Original Member

Viola

When and why did you start playing the viola?

I started learning the violin when I was about 14, and switched to viola after a couple of years because my teacher was really a violist, and had studied with Lionel Tertis.

Is music your main profession?

I’m retired now, but I was an English teacher.

Describe your journey with that instrument.

I didn’t have very long to learn as I stopped taking lessons after I left school, so I’m woefully unqualified. I played in the National Youth String Orchestra of Scotland, and in orchestras and quartets at Edinburgh university. My most memorable performance was with a chamber orchestra, playing the Tchaikovsky Rococco Variations with a 17-year-old Stephen Isserlis!

How long have you played for the JSO?

Since it was formed! I’m a proud founder member!

What has been your favourite JSO concert that you have performed in?

Tough call. Usually the last one I played in. But highlights have been playing Bernstein’s West Side Story, Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony when Liz Lauren’s solo in the slow movement was to die for, and Shostakovitch 5.

Do you play any other instruments or belong to any other musical groups on the island?

I play the piano, and I also play in the JCO and sing with the Amity Singers.

Who is your favourite composer and why?

Aaagh! Too hard! Schubert’s piano music, Brahms and Mozart chamber music, Rachmaninov for orchestral, piano and choralĀ¦

What is your favourite piece of classical music and why?

Mozart’s G minor string quintet – the one with 2 violas!

What music do you listen to?

I really only enjoy live music, and the best is chamber music.

What do you love about Jersey?

The outdoor life and sea food.

What one thing would you change about Jersey?

The heavy traffic at rush hour and weekends.

What other passions do you have in life apart from music?

My children and grandchildren. Shakespeare and live theatre. Cycling and sea swimming. Family and friends.

What do orchestras need to do to attract larger audiences?

Offer a bit of something for everyone; a local soloist, a tie-in with other popular culture like film and tv, a bit of spectacle.

How best do we encourage young people to become interested in classical music?

Encourage them to play an instrument and join a band or orchestra.

If you could visit any musical period or see/meet/hear or play with any artist, what would you choose?

I’d love to have encountered Claude Debussy when he was in Jersey and maybe walking on the beach incubating La Mer and La Isle Joyeuse!