Both my parents were music teachers, and since my childhood was full of the sounds of violin lessons, string quartet rehearsals and Radio 3, music was hard to avoid! I picked up a violin aged four, but singing was my first love and I can still remember how excited I was to go to choir practice. After a few years of singing at my local church I gained a place as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral. Singing Renaissance polyphony in that awe-inspiring building was a formative experience.
I was lucky to experience chamber music early on and I first picked up a viola to play in a quartet when I was 12. I immediately felt an affinity with the instrument and the role suited me down to the ground. I continued to play quartets throughout my school life, and in my final year at Wells Cathedral School had my first encounter with Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, an experience that confirmed to me that I wanted to make music my life.
Four intense years at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) followed, full of chamber music and excellent orchestral experience. I played with the RAM Soloists and was a European Union Youth Orchestra member in my final year. However, after graduating it became clear that my mental health had been suffering and a battle with depression and anxiety followed. Although music provided escape and solace, I had to stop playing in order to heal.
After a therapeutic journey, and mentorship from violinist Liz Gardiner, I felt ready to pursue music again in 2017 and made the move back to London. Since then I have embraced freelance life and its inevitable variety!
Most recently I have enjoyed working alongside Paraorchestra & Friends, an organisation dedicated to promoting the work of disabled musicians, and I’ve been lucky to have performed most of the piano quartet canon with the Edington Ensemble and pianist, John Reid. I am also delighted to be a Monteverdi Apprentice this year and am excited to be developing my understanding of historical performance practice under the tutelage of principal members of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
Like most musicians, I love travelling and I feel incredibly lucky that music has taken me around the world: from Brazil to China; the UAE to the Arctic Circle; Portugal to Russia. I’m looking forward to future adventures!
Royal Academy of Music
What is your favourite piece of music and why do you love it?
This is an impossible question to answer! I could never choose a single piece. In fact, the closest I could get would be to say that Bach and Beethoven are my favourite composers...
What do you do with your time when you’re not playing music?
I love being outside and can walk for miles on a day off, either in London or the great outdoors. I’m planning a big walk for 2020, something like the West Highland Way, the Cairngorms, or Snowdon... I also like to run, visit art galleries, and am a slow but persistent reader.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
I joke with friends that I’d love to be a bus driver, but it’s not really a joke! My childhood passion for double-decker buses remains, and if given an opportunity to drive a Routemaster, I’d jump at it.
George is a member of the 2020-2021 fellowship.