The Inside Scoop On Our Orchestra Players

Innominato Strings Orchestra Survey 2015

A very informal survey at our Summer concert in 2015 asked a few basic questions about the musical lives of our orchestra members. Some of the answers were a bit of a surprise, for example: did you know someone in our orchestra started their first violin lessons at 73 years of age?


What made you choose the instrument that you’re now playing?

“My teacher suggested to switch from violin to viola because I was possibly better suited to the larger instrument!”

“I had my dad’s violin and wanted to play it. I started learning at 63 years old with no previous musical experience.”

“My dad thought I would be good on the violin due to my Irish genes. I started at 8 years old.”

“I wanted to play cello when I was a child, but my parents made me play the flute because it was portable and lady like!”

Ladylike cello playing

Who says that playing the cello is not lady-like?

“I chose to play the violin because my sister played it. I started at 12 years old.”

“When I studied in high school, I played violin. I went for years not playing anything then around 50 years old, I knew I loved the sound of the cello that’s when I started really playing and having lessons.”

“Love violin, it is nice and I can’t change over.”

“Played piano for a few years. Have always had a passion for the violin but it was not until I fell in love with Andre Rieu that I had the courage to take it up when I was 67 years old.”

“I played violin first, but turned to viola simply because of the need for more viola players. I started the viola at 58 years old.”

“I started out on the recorder at 37 years old and brass, but turned to violin at 50 years old because it is light and compact and I thought my daughter could accompany me on piano (but she never did).”

“I love the sound of the cello. My daughter had learnt a few years ago, so I started lessons at 54 years old. I still play the piano (a little) but it’s a bit lonely.”

“I always wanted to play the violin but it wasn’t until: (a) my partner gave me a violin for my 50th birthday and then (b) I had a violin teacher regularly visit my house for my daughter’s violin lessons, that I decided to learn to play it.”

“I started violin at 10 years old purely because there was a violin teacher available! I also played recorder before starting the violin.”

“I never felt any instrument was appealing to me but double bass I just really liked it. I had no other instrument first and started lessons at 20 years old.”

“I actually wanted to play piano but the piano teacher was married to a violinist and pointed out how large and cumbersome and solitary the piano was. I started violin lessons at 35 years old.”

I played the piano all my life from about age 6 years. While studying at the conservatorium I wanted to study cello but opted for viola – it was cheaper! So years and years later at the age of 63 years old I finally started cello lessons.

“My grandfather played violin, so I did too.”

“I play electric bass. I went to buy a violin for my daughter but the guy in the shop started talking about how he conducted an orchestra. He said “Why don’t you check it out?” So I did and thought it would be a good challenge. I’ve now been playing double bass for about four years in the orchestra. And, still learning.”

“I’ve got four sisters and we all learned to play the piano which was set up in a tent in the caravan park we grew up in. I really wanted to get away from the sound of that damn piano, so I learned the violin as a kid, but later found that my favourite music is the deeper, lush sound of the viola.”

“Piano, I still play it but I like the tones the violin can produce.”

What music is included on your favourites list?

Baroque (1600–1760): got the most mentions including Albinoni, Telemann and Bach, especially the cello suites. Cello music was mentioned a lot. Vivaldi scored high with four people nominating him. Seven people in our group said Corelli is their all-time favourite composer.

Classical (1730–1820): including Boccherini, Haydn, Dvorak, Mozart. People specifically mentioned Beethoven Symphony # 6, Beethoven Symphony # 3 Eroica. One person said he loves Tchaikovsky violin concerto in D major, Op 35, so much that he can feel it realigning his blood cells.

Romantic (1780–1910): including Mendelssohn and Greig

20th Century (1900’s): Prokoviev, Rimsky-Korsakov, John Williams and the famous cello pieces of Elgar, especially his cello concerto.

Other modern bits and pieces: Folk tune derivations were mentioned as well as Grappelli gypsy jazz. Two people said they would like to play popular music and also music from movies, musical comedy and show tunes.

Our Innominato Strings concerts are nothing like the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Program, but in one of our concerts, we performed Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone and we all just loved it. So it’s little wonder that it came up in our survey as a hot favourite in our orchestra.

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