Rachel Spence

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

I grew up on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands, and for my last couple of years at school went to St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh. I have just finished my first year studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Aside from music I enjoy reading, walking, cycling, sketching, wild swimming, and learning languages.

How did you first get into music?

Although my parents aren’t musicians, I have a very musical family, and so I grew up singing and listening to lots of music. I began playing the viola in group lessons at my local primary school, which led to me joining school, regional, national and international youth orchestras. Playing music with other people is one of the most exciting and inspiring experiences one can have in this life, and so I haven’t stopped since!

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

There was no specific moment when I decided to make music such an important part of my life – it’s just gradually become more and more of a focus for me. After starting to play the viola in school I eventually outgrew group lessons and so looked for a teacher elsewhere. I decided to travel monthly to Edinburgh for viola lessons from the age of 13, which was certainly a step up in my commitment. Going to study at St Mary’s Music School when I was 16 was a massive learning curve for me, and transformed what I believed was within my capabilities as a musician. It led to me attaining a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and becoming much more focused on pursuing a career in music.

What has been your musical highlight so far?

I have had many highlights throughout my musical development, but one that particularly stands out was spending three weeks last year at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. Not only did being a member of the Junior Orchestra give me the opportunity to perform fantastic music with some of the best young musicians in the world, but I also had free entry to the whole festival to see an astounding range of concerts and masterclasses given by musicians at the very top of their game. As if it couldn’t get any better, on our days off we were out hiking in the Swiss Alps!

Who are your favourite composers/artists/musicians?

I enjoy listening to as many different styles and genres of music as I can, but in the end I always go back to JS Bach. He has such a massive catalogue of works, and I believe it is some of the best music ever created.

What do you anticipate for the Nevis Ensemble?

I hope that Nevis Ensemble will be something quite different to what I have experienced before. I am really excited to bring music outside of the concert hall and hopefully give people a taste of the incredible power of music.