Alison Rayner

1. Violin

− There is nothing like being inside the powerful engine of the full orchestra when we play a Shostakovich symphony or a Strauss tone poem. A highlight of my time with the Oslo Philharmonic was our performance of Rachmaninov's second symphony with Vasily Petrenko at the Edinburgh festival in August 2015. The orchestra felt like one huge, multi-faceted instrument. It was incredible.

Alison Rayner

Alison Rayner was born in Adelaide, Australia. She began playing the violin at the age of three.

− My older sister Lynette had already started playing the violin and although my parents would not otherwise have given me an instrument at such a young age I insisted that I must have one too! I actually don´t have many memories of my life without the violin being around. My sister is also a professional violinist, and we have often played together in orchestras and string quartets over the years.

Music was a great source of joy for her as a child:

− I had a wonderful, enthusiastic Suzuki teacher called Maxine Komlos who made sure our lessons were as fun as they were instructive. All of her students met regularly for group practice, and this no doubt sowed the seed for my future love of playing in ensembles of various sorts and sizes.

Surrounded by music

There was always a lot of music in their home:

− My mother has always taught music and sung in choirs and I remember my father regularly arriving home excited about his latest stack of LP purchases from the music shop. I vividly recall him playing us some recordings of the great harpsichordist Wanda Landowska in which you could hear the sound of bombs falling in Paris during the Second World War. That was dad's Scarlatti period. Being surrounded by so much music definitely had a strong influence on me and my eventual decision to become a professional musician.

Alison tried her hand at various instruments ­− piano, classical guitar and the oboe – but violin was always her first choice.

− Even if I were to play a new piece every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn´t scratch the surface of the staggering quantity of music that has been written for the violin; there is so much repertoire for us to play! We are incredibly lucky in that way. Not to mention that there are two violin parts for all the symphonies; playing the second violin part of a piece you´ve played the first violin part for, or vise versa, gives you the opportunity to unlock a whole new perspective on the work.

− The orchestra felt like one huge, multi-faceted instrument

Alison played with symphony orchestras in Melbourne and Adelaide and several other Australian ensembles before she joined Oslo Philharmonic in 2010. Her greatest influences have been the colleagues she´s had the the privilege of playing with.

− I have learned so much from them about music and how to approach orchestral playing with dedication, patience and a considerable amount of humour.

Mozart's Requiem and Handel's Messiah are some of her favorite works:

− No matter how many times I play them, never fail to move me. There is nothing like being inside the powerful engine of the full orchestra when we play a Shostakovich symphony or a Strauss tone poem. A highlight of my time with the Oslo Philharmonic was our performance of Rachmaninov's second symphony with Vasily Petrenko at the Edinburgh festival in August 2015. The orchestra felt like one huge, multi-faceted instrument. It was incredible.

She says it can be exciting to listen to a work for the first time with no previous knowledge, but often finds it rewarding to read a little about the work and its context:

− Understanding the composer´s perspective can make the music speak to us in a very different way, as we are more able to connect with their experience of life and with what they were hoping to convey through their music.

When she´s not playing in the orchestra, she´s most likely to be found in the kitchen trying out a new recipe, or in a yoga class ... although she claims cross-country skiing is high on her list of things to get better at!