On Monday 16 April we're welcoming two new Members to the LSO, and both of them to the Viola section! Say hello to Steve Doman and Carol Ella.
Eagle-eyed regulars might recognise both players, as they have both occasionally sat in the section for a while – and both are former participants on our String Experience Scheme – but now they've officially joined the family we asked them to introduce themselves.
I began playing the violin when I was 14, and then started the viola soon after, gaining a scholarship to Wells Cathedral School when I was 16 on the viola, where my teacher was Patricia Noall. I then went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study with Mark Knight. During my time there, I began to work for LSO Discovery, and have enjoyed being involved in a variety of projects for them ever since. This was followed by Masters studies at the Royal Academy of Music, as well as studies in the USA and Finland, the latter of which where I studied with Pirkko Simojoki who I would say is my biggest musical hero.
During my time at the Royal Academy, I successfully auditioned for the LSO String Experience Scheme and through it gained my first professional orchestral experience, playing in three patches of work that year under Gergiev, Tilson Thomas and Haitink. What an experience that was! I hadn't realised up until that point how exciting and stimulating orchestral playing could be. I continued to work for the LSO as an extra player, as well as working for various other orchestras around the country, but it was always the LSO work that I found to be the most stimulating and rewarding. I'm absolutely delighted to have joined the orchestra as a member of the viola section. It's my dream job!
I'm looking forward to the tours that we've got coming up this year, particularly Japan and Thailand. I've always loved travelling so I see that as a huge bonus of the job. Most of all though, I'm looking forward to being part of a truly fabulous viola section, all of whom are lovely people as well as being fantastic musicians.
When I'm not working, I enjoy tending to my allotment and garden where I grow all sorts of fruit and vegetables and also keep bees! I have a huge interest in nature as well, particularly birds, and have been known to get up at the crack of dawn to go birdwatching whilst on tour. Sometimes jetlag can be useful...
I'm from Wick, in the far North of Scotland. There weren’t many viola players at my school (St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh), and I was such a diabolical double bass player that the viola was suggested to me – I think as I’d probably be heard less!! I grew up playing traditional fiddle, so the viola didn’t seem so foreign. I studied at the Royal College of Music with Simon Rowland-Jones.
My musical hero is Addie Harper Snr, who was a celebrated traditional fiddler, composer and teacher back home. I’d sit in his caravan for half an hour a week and learn to keep my bow straight, and go ‘up a shift’! His many Scottish tunes still fly around in my head almost daily. Classically, my hero has to be Bernard Haitink, and my not-so-inner child must also cite Alan Menken!
The LSO was the first professional orchestra I played with, through the String Experience Scheme, so it’s great to come back years later as a Member. I was member of BBC Symphony Orchestra from 2005 to 2015, and I also play regularly with the John Wilson Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Ensemble and Aurora Orchestra amongst others. I also enjoy working in London’s West End.
I’ve played with the LSO as an extra player for a few years now so I’m most looking forward to continuing that relationship. Students, extra players, members, front and back desks – they all make up every string section and I love being involved in whichever capacity. I'm particularly looking forward to visiting Japan, Switzerland and Austria on tours – my favourite destinations. I’m a passionate vegan and love going on restaurant hunts when on tour – I recently had spinach and tofu pierogi on tour in Warsaw and they were YUM!
Steve and Carol will be joining their new section on Monday to start rehearsing Mahler Symphonies Nos 9 & 10 and Helen Grime's new work Woven Space with Sir Simon Rattle for concerts on 19, 22 and 26 April at the Barbican and then many destinations on tour, including before the end of the month Dublin, Luxembourg, Zurich, Frankfurt and Hannover – well and truly hitting the ground running!