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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

On cello congestion and market opportunities,
with classical music agony aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? 'Dear Alice,

I am, though I say it myself, an exceptional cellist. I was accepted at the Guildhall though I decided to read music at a London University, where I played several concertos and set up a cello ensemble. My problem is this: now where can I play?

Professional orchestras wouldn't hire me, compared to people who did go to the Guildhall, and the only really good amateur orchestra near me is full-up. I'd like to get a string quartet together, but don't know how to meet local players under these circumstances. I am really missing my university music! What do you suggest?
'
P Newsome

Ask Alice

Alice Dear fellow cello,

I'm afraid that I already know about this problem. My own area of London is very cello-congested. There just seem to be too many keen amateur cellists. (Also, not surprisingly, keen amateur flutes, clarinets, trumpets and horns.) Why isn't there more music written for 24 flutes, 7 clarinets, 7 horns, 24 trumpets and 12 cellos?? I see a hole in the market here ...

I don't have any magic wand to change this -- and I do feel for your missing your playing. The only things I can suggest, which you have probably already thought of, is that you:

  1. immerse yourself in your nearest unfull orchestra. You'll probably soon get concertos there, though the standard may irritate you.
  2. investigate local theatres with a view towards volunteering for ill-paid gigs with operatic societies, etc. (Well, you would meet players!)
  3. advertise with the local orch that's full-up for chamber music players. There are bound to be some people interested.
  4. check out the London Cello Society. What it mainly does is set up posh masterclasses and concerts -- often with more than one hot-shot cellist/teacher/both.
  5. take some lessons with a local pro, who might recommend you for things they've tired of playing. If they're impressed enough, you might even get in after all!!!

Good luck!!!!!
Alice

Copyright © 28 November 2008 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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