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Use the tabs below to find out about each section of the orchestra, watch video clips, and read interviews with musicians.

There are more strings in the orchestra than all the other instruments put together, and they are very often at the heart of the music.

The viola is a bit bigger than the violin and makes a deep, rich sound.

It has two jobs in the orchestra; it plays harmonies, but also gets great solos from time to time.

It can be played by bowing, plucking and can also be strummed!

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Meet the orchestra

Martin Wallington, Viola
BBC Philharmonic

  • How old were you when you first started playing?
    I was 10 years old.

  • Why did you choose this instrument?
    My Mother was a violin and viola teacher - and the local Youth Orchestra was short of violas!

  • Do you play any other instruments?
    The Piano - very badly!

  • What do you like most about playing in an orchestra? Is it fun?
    I love being right in the middle of the orchestra - you can hear so much of the detail of the music that you are playing. Is it fun? - well yes, given a decent piece of music and a decent conductor!!

  • Do you play any other kind of music?
    I do enjoy playing chamber music.

  • What is your favourite music?
    How long have you got? - I love English music - especially Vaughan Williams, Bax, Moeran, Howells and Elgar - French music from Faure, Ravel and Debussy, and Russian greats like Rachmaninov, Gliere, Shostakovich (but I hate Tchaikovsky!!!). I also adore the English Cathedral Choir sound - so anything from Tallis to Tavener...

  • Do you have any other hobbies?
    Golf, wine and photography - and doing up a farmhouse in France.

  • What would you have been if you weren't a musician?

Have you been listening to an orchestra without realising it?

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