Georgina MacDonell Finlayson


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your life. Not necessarily music-related!

I am Georgina. Born and raised in Scotland, I hail from a remote corner of a wee Scottish glen and am just going into my final year studying music at The University of Edinburgh. When I’m not in a rehearsal you’ll probably find me hiking up a hill or hopping on a CalMac ferry to a different Scottish Island (very possibly bike in hand). If that fails, then I might be drinking gin or making a vegetarian feast while listening to Dreamer’s Circus.

I also play a wee bit of piano and used to play a West African instrument called m’bira (a type of thumb piano) and I love to write bits and pieces of my own music and fiddle tunes when I can or go on the hunt for uncommon and rarely performed works. I am fascinated by the many different styles and traditions of music across the world and how new and unique sounds are emerging from exotic musical fusions, and as a musician I hope that I can study and learn from many of these different styles and integrate them into my own musical voice. I think it is really exciting to be a part of the music scene in Scotland and to see how it is progressing and where it is heading (of which Nevis is definitely a part). I hope that in my life as a performer, artist and thinker I can contribute to that in some way and develop our already rich musical traditions.

How did you first get into music?

When I was about 6 or 7, we were at a family party where a wee group of young people, not much older than I was, began to play traditional music. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to perform like them. I wanted to engage with other people and make music together the way they were. I soon started taking classical violin lessons and then later joined a traditional music group and began playing bits of fiddle too. And now I get to play and perform with people every week! From a very young age dance was also an important part of my life, so for me there has also always been this integral connection between music and movement, and how music can move and inspire us to feel or react in certain ways.

What made you decide that music would be an important part of your life?

It’s funny, but I don’t really remember ever making a decision that music would be an important part of my life, it just seemed natural. Early on I started going to the local orchestra and then joined a youth folk band and since then I feel like there has just been this natural progression of one musical venture to the next, and here I am today with the privilege of making music just about every day of my life.

What has been your musical highlight so far?

In 2016 I played Stravinsky’s The Firebird with The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland to a packed out Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms. The ecstatic energy and excitement that resounded in that hall from buzzing musician to emotional parent was immense and I think that is an experience I am never going to forget.

Who are your favourite composers/artists/musicians?

Oh picking favourites is too hard – there are too many incredible artists and musicians out there all with their own unique qualities and all from so many different genres and walks of life. It would be like picking my favourite hill, when there are so many that I’ve still not climbed!

What do you anticipate for the Nevis Ensemble?

Bewildered and delighted Scots, quirky venues and village halls, incredible Ben Nevis views (or not…), dance dance dance, plenty good craic and some truly unforgettable performances – a madly musical and musically mad whistle stop tour.

I am excited to see what unusual encounters happen along the way and the lifelong connections that will be made, not just between musicians but also for the people and communities we visit.