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My first ever solo performance


My first ever solo performance on the viola was at the beautiful Lit and Phil and would be the start of many to come. I love the atmosphere of the Lit and Phil and it is definitely one of my favourite places to perform. During these unusual times the arts and literature are what we turn to to help pass the time and keep us positive. I am truly grateful for the Lit and Phil’s continual support and promotion of the arts and literature during these times.

The best thing about playing the viola is playing in ensembles. One of these that I am lucky enough to play in is The National Youth Orchestra. Being a member of this orchestra is not only exciting musically but also has given me some of the strongest friendships. Through the orchestra I have been able to play at the BBC Proms, perform with esteemed conductors and travel to Germany. NYO is all about connecting people with classical music no matter their background, age or gender. One of the ways in which we do this is through the Inspire Project. This is designed for young people to come and play with the NYO or experience the full power of the symphony orchestra.

One of my favourite experiences of the inspire project was being approached by a group of young people before an NYO concert, they came up to me and said they had remembered me from when NYO came to play at their school. They said that that was the reason they had come to see the concert that evening. I think this is the perfect demonstration of the power classical music can have and the impact of the inspire project. 

NYO is very much about reaching out and connecting with as many people as they can, however, due to the current unfortunate circumstances it became clear that our spring residency was to be cancelled. But lockdown wasn’t going to prevent 164 musicians from making music together and for that reason the NYO digital residency was born. We used the video call app Zoom to connect with each other participating in Q and A’s, webinars and 1 to 1 lessons. But I think most importantly we tried to bring hope and thank our wonderful NHS through our NYOde to joy. This was organised as a way to create the biggest performance of ode to joy throughout Britain. This happened on the 17th of April when all musicians of any ability were asked to play the simple ode to joy melody from their balconies, doors or gardens to serenade their neighbours and hopefully to make them smile. The sheer number of people who took part demonstrated the connection we can gain through music. I am really looking forward to being able to play in concerts again and hopefully entertain people at the Lit and Phil very soon!

I would like to say a big thank you to the Lit and Phil for supporting me and my fellow young musicians.

Stay safe and see you all soon,


About the author

Elin Devine-Douglass

Elin Devine-Douglass is multiple Avison Ensemble Young Musician Award winner in both the solo and ensemble categories, she will be reading music at Cambridge University this year.

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