BLOG – Sally Webb, viola

Our second day of rehearsals dawned a little damp but not enough to discourage a little pre-tour exercise, a jog along the beautiful Gare Loch which meant I missed the raucous cacophony that was the usually Nevis wake-up call, given by Maxje and Guro (two musicians go round the rooms and perform a short ditty to get everyone out of their bed each morning). There was some yoga to help us stretch and learned how to breathe to destress or release tension. It’s important for musicians to maintain physical health and well being at all times!

Rehearsals made up seven hours of the day and were challenging to say the least. As a part-time music teacher, classroom support, before and after school club manager, wife and mum to four mostly grown up children, I don’t get a lot of time to myself. Although Nevis has a rigorous timetable of rehearsals, presentations, well-being activities (and very soon, concerts) to fit around the delicious meals that the orchestra enjoy, this was a very life-giving experience last year and continues to be so again. There are 14 different nationalities on this tour, and an age range from 18 to four times that! The musicians have an energy, dedication and a joy as they concentrate on learning their parts and working together and it’s great to be a part of that team.

The repertoire is huge and very varied, there’s something for everyone, my favourites are always the tuneful, romantic dances and waltzes, this year we’re doing By the Sleepy Lagoon by Eric Coates (better to known to most as the Desert Island Discs tune), my desk partner loves the movement from the Jupiter Symphony (No 41) by Mozart and we were all intrigued to hear the new composition commissioned by Nevis, a series of musical postcards (my oversimplified description) capturing a physical and mental journey undertaken by the composer Rufus Elliot from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Our orchestra has tried hard to become more ‘Green’ this year, one member’s efforts to embrace the Environmentally Friendly Nevis resulted in comfort for the cellos, she recycled her old curtains to create cushions for their stools. Others have made delicious scones, flapjacks and carob cookies to reduce our use of packaging… it’s a delicious bonus!

Once rehearsals were over for day, there was time to unwind over a glass of wine in the Anchor Inn or playing a game of cards or table tennis. And that’s just the start – tomorrow sees the first of our 35 concerts!