A violinist who grew up in Crieff is due to play in two local shows before moving to Switzerland.
Briona Mannion, 22, born in Comrie and raised in Crieff, will perform solo sets of Beethoven’s music with the brand new Caledonian Chamber Orchestra later this month.
A few days later, Briona will leave for Switzerland to study the violin at the Master level at the Lausanne Conservatory.
His brother Finn Mannion, 20, has already completed the first year of a cello degree in the Swiss city of Basel, where he will return after playing in the orchestra for shows by Comrie and Innerpeffray.
This article reviews Briona’s musical background, how she coped with leaving home at age 11, and her thoughts on moving to Switzerland.
It is divided into the following sections:
- Fiddler band and folk pub
- Boarding school pains and gains
- Switzerland and Royal Albert Hall
- Local Shows and Mother’s Pride
Fiddler band and folk pub
It may come as a surprise to discover that neither of Briona and Finn’s parents are connoisseurs of classical music.
But Greg and Sarah got their kids involved in the Blackford Violin Group when they were about five years old. Here they saw musicians mastering traditional Scottish and Irish tunes by ear.
It was here that Briona first picked up a violin, when she was about six years old.
“Mom took me and handed me a little violin and taught me how to play Twinkle Twinkle,” she recalled.
Greg, who works as a lecturer in environmental science at the University of Stirling, is a self-taught guitarist who has also taken them to traditional folk sessions at The Taybank in Dunkeld.
Boarding school pains and gains
Bríona’s interest in music emerged once she attended Crieff’s Ardvreck Schoolwhere Sarah is a teacher.
She fondly remembers music lessons from Audrey Mattner, who spotted her gift with the violin and suggested she audition for music school.
“I don’t think my parents expected me to come in,” she said. “When I was offered the place, they left the decision to me. I said I wanted to try.
This meant boarding 60 miles at age 11, which some parents might have found objectionable.
But Sarah said: ‘I work at a boarding school so I have experience of how children settle in and I see how happy they are even when they are away from their parents.
“So allowing my kids on board was never a problem.”
“I was really homesick”
It was still difficult at first.
“I was really homesick the first year,” Briona said. “I was by far the youngest resident.
“After the first year, I settled in and got used to it a lot more. I had amazing friends there.
“There were only 35 boarders in the school, so it was like a big family and everyone looked after each other.”
A significant influence in his Edinburgh years was Professor Andrea Gajic,
“At St Mary’s I was surrounded by all these people who loved classical music and who were all so much better than me,” Briona added.
“It was really inspiring to see and it made me think maybe classical music was something I could do for a lifetime.”
“I try to create a sense of community”
She left St Mary’s with three advanced upper grades and four upper grades, all A grades except one C, but the top priority was music.
Briona received a full scholarship to continue her violin studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London and graduated this summer with first class honours.
She said, “I studied with Jack Libeck which was amazing and completely transformed the way I think about music.
“He always reminded me why we play music and what it means – especially during the pandemic, when we weren’t playing in front of people at all.
“It was extremely helpful in inspiring me to keep going.”
So what is the meaning?
“It’s just to share beautiful music with as many people as possible, and always try to say something and tell a story with music,” Briona said.
“It brings people together and I try to create that sense of community.”
Switzerland and Royal Albert Hall
Next month, Briona will move to French-speaking Switzerland and enroll in a two-year master’s degree at the Lausanne Conservatorywhere it will be taught by the famous Ukrainian violinist Professor Svetlana Makarova.
“Because I’ve lived away from home, I’m used to that part, but I’m still nervous about living abroad.
“My French still needs work but I’m very excited. Lausanne is very beautiful and adjoins Lake Geneva. All of Switzerland is beautiful.
She will also live in the same country as Finn, whose route to Alpine country has also taken him to Ardvreck and St Mary’s, but also via the Scandinavian cello school in Denmark.
“I would like to play a little more in Perthshire”
If moving overseas sounds daunting, Briona has already shown she can conquer nerves on the biggest stages.
She has performed in some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including a Mozart concerto at I Musici Di Parma and at 15 in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for the BBC Proms in a packed Royal Albert Hall.
But the best memories of Briona are in the most intimate places.
“Often the most memorable gigs for me are the ones where I play with my friends and where the people I love are in the audience. It’s often not about the number of people there,” she said. declared.
“Kirk of St. John in Perth is a very nice place to play. I played a trio concert with my brother and a pianist who is a very good friend.
“We did a recital there a few years ago and it was a great placement to play. I would like to play a little more in Perthshire, that would be really good.
Local Shows and Mother’s Pride
Her wish comes true later this month, when she plays a key role in two concerts of Beethoven music.
They take place at the parish church of Comrie on Friday August 26 (7:30 p.m.) and the next day at the library of Innerpeffray (3 p.m.).
The Caledonian Chamber Orchestra’s program will include the Coriolan Overture, Symphony No. 7 and the Violin Concertofor which Briona will perform a solo passage
The orchestra is made up of around 20 young musicians, most of whom have graduated or are still studying at conservatories in the UK and Europe.
The events are organized by Stone Banksscientific manager and director of studies at Ardvreck.
“Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is a great piece and one of my favorites,” Briona said. “The orchestra is almost brand new. Peter Banks has managed to attract some incredible musicians, which is very exciting.
“One of his goals was to bring more classical music to places that don’t have a lot of it or are too small to have it as often. It’s an interesting program and I think people are going to love it. .
“It will be really amazing. My brother also plays and I have lots of friends and family who come. Comrie Church is literally directly opposite where I was born and lived. I’m really excited.”
“The house suddenly went silent”
Sarah will be one of the proudest people in the room when she sees her children in action next weekend.
“It’s not that we think they’re gifted or talented, or brilliant or amazing, or any of those things,” she explained.
“Our pride comes from watching their work, their progress, their determination, their efforts and their ability to connect through their music.
“The thing we miss the most with them is the sound of music practice. I loved walking around the house and hearing them practicing at all hours of the day.
“The house suddenly became silent. There was a cello in one room, a piano in one room, and a violin in the other.
“Some of our old school teachers bought tickets to the shows. There is great support for music at Crieff and Comrie.
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[Crieff violinist Briona Mannion to perform before Switzerland move]