Cellist hits the high notes with selection for the National Youth Orchestra

Kalli Ziegler, 15, is one of the youngest musicians in the orchestra


A teenage cellist, who went along to an audition for the National Youth Orchestra “for the experience”, has been selected to join the renowned ensemble.

Kalli Ziegler, 15, from East Finchley, told the JC that it was “an honour” to have been picked after a two-round selection process.

“For the first part, I had to send in a video of myself playing two pieces, and for the second round, we were all invited to spend a day with the orchestra. They wanted to see how we interacted with one another or if we were able to lead other musicians. It was quite an intense day but also really inspiring."

The member of Finchley Reform Synagogue, who played the cello at the synagogue for her bat mitzvah, is one of 18 cellists in an orchestra of around 160 musicians. A long-time member of the National Children’s Orchestra, Kalli practises for around 16 hours a week. Her first performance with the NYO will be in January.

Kalli started playing the cello at the age of six and cites Yo-Yo Ma – “an amazing cellist” – as one of her role models. After considering the guitar and double bass, she opted for the cello because she “loved the sound”.

As well as performing, the NYO musicians are required to do outreach work in primary schools through the orchestra’s Inspire project. “We hope to become inspirational changemakers through our performances,” said Kalli. “Music brings communities together, brings out emotion and creates peace.”

Mum Lana said she was “incredibly proud” of her daughter. “Most of the other members of the National Youth Orchestra are older, but Kalli decided to go along to the audition for the experience. She didn’t expect to get in, so it’s really fantastic news.”

She added that “like a lot of Jewish musicians, Kalli plays with her heart and soul”.

Musical talent runs in the family. Kalli’s brother, Jaren, 18, a viola player, was a finalist in last year’s BBC Young Musician and was previously a member of the National Youth Orchestra.

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