Meet our players – Mags Matthews, violin

Player profile: first violin and classical rock chick Mags Matthews

Mags Matthews is part of the fabulous first violin section in the NWSO and has been with the orchestra for around 10 years when she moved from Surrey to Swindon. We wanted to find out a bit more about her, and she kindly took the time to answer some of our serious (and less serious) questions.

How old were you when you started playing the violin and what made you choose it?

I was about 3 years old watching my dad teach my brother Joe how to play the violin. I fell in love with the violin and started lessons as soon as I could hold my ¼ size violin.

And how did your musical career continue after that?

My first teacher after my dad was Vivien Price at Fitznells School of Music. I then won a scholarship to The Royal Academy of Music Junior Exhibitioners studying with Alla Sharova. Over the years, I have also played in many orchestras with inspiring conductors, including Kingston Youth Symphony Orchestra with Robert Pepper, Kingston Philharmonia with Walter Wurzberger, Hounslow Symphony with Robin Page and Epsom Symphony Orchestra with Darrell Davison.

Why play in an orchestra?

Music has been a big part of my family. I have met and made some incredible friends. I have also been privileged to play alongside some stunning musicians.

You are part of our amazing first violin section. What do you enjoy most/ find most challenging about it?

Each concert we play is challenging. We are a good team in the first violins and especially lucky to have support and leadership from Sara.

Do you have any highlight concerts that you’ve been part of over the years?

I have loved all concerts over the years, but particularly last year’s concert, playing Harry Potter with my two sons and granddaughter watching. Another highlight last year was meeting fellow first violin Wendy Clark again after many years. Wendy studied with Alla Sharova at the Junior Academy same time as me.

If you could join any orchestra (or chamber music group), which one would it be and why?

I am really happy playing with the NWSO and look forward to our weekly rehearsals and concerts.

What music do you like to listen to (apart from classical)?

At work I am known as the classical rock chic as I also love going to rock gigs and festivals with my husband Glenn and my boys. Bands I have seen include ACDC, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top.

What has been the most helpful advice in your musical career?

If it is a little too difficult “lift your bow and smile!”

What do you like to do in your free time – apart from practising the violin…?

Cooking, travelling, seeing friends and taking photos.


And a few quick-fire questions:

Most disliked instrument? Can’t think of any I dislike.

Favourite dessert? Apple crumble and custard.

Favourite city? Seville.

Cat or dog? Cats – I have three.

Famous person you’d most like to meet? Itzhak Perlman.