Cellist Katie to welcome in New Year with NYO


WHILE some of her friends and relatives are hitting the post-Christmas sales or recovering after over-indulging, one Coldstream girl will be spending the end of 2010 and start of 2011 with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.

Sixteen year old Katie Johnston, (pictured) a pupil at Berwickshire High School, joined up with her fellow orchestra members yesterday, December 29, to begin a week of intensive rehearsals in the lead up to two high profile concerts next week.

Cellist Katie will be taking her seat with the orchestra as they welcome in the New Year from the New World, performing Antonín Dvorák’s famed Symphony No. 9, in Perth and Glasgow on January 5 and 6.

In a programme drawing inspiration from the USA, the orchestra will also perform Samuel Barber’s emotional Second Essay for Orchestra, before being joined by American Violinist Kurt Nikkanen, in a performance of Stravinsky’s neoclassical Violin Concerto.

Katie, who first started playing the cello in primary 5, said she hoped her previous experience with the National Children’s Orchestra would stand her in good stead.

She said: “It was my old music teacher Simon Johnson who first introduced me to the cello and then encouraged me to join up with the National Children’s Orchestra. I got in and I had a really enjoyable couple of years but then I got too old so the National Youth Orchestra was the natural next step.

“The first year I applied I didn’t get in but after doing a training course I’m thrilled to be a full member of the orchestra this time around.

“We’re going to be playing at some pretty amazing venues but thankfully I have played at the Glasgow Concert Hall before with the Children’s Orchestra so hopefully that will help with any nerves as it’s quite a daunting place to play.

“I’m hoping that my time with the National Children’s Orchestra and playing in front of big audiences will help me a lot.”

Dovorak’s Symphony No.9 is a piece of music known the world over and Katie admitted that it was a big step up from some of the pieces she’s tackled in the past.

“It’s in a completely different league to some of the stuff I’ve played so far,” she continued.

“I’ve done things like exerpts from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ so this is a different proposition entirely. One of my vices when it comes to music is rhythm and with Symphony no.9 you have to be spot on so it could prove quite challenging.

“I can’t say I’m really excited about doing nine hours of rehearsals a day but because it’s music I don’t really see it as work’; it would be a lot different if it was nine hours of maths!”

Katie, who also plays the basoon and piano, said that despite the gruelling rehearsal schedule ahead of her she was really looking forward to being part of the National Youth Orchestra and everything that came with it.

“I’m sure I’ll have a fabulous time. I don’t know anyone else who is doing it but I’m sure I’ll meet some fantastic people.

“And getting to play a violin concerto alongside Kurt Nikkanen will be great. I’ve never played a violin concerto before so it will be a completely new experience for me.”