Violinist Jessica is home and hitting the high notes

Violist Jessica Beeston is sharing her skills with the next generation.

The musician recently returned to Scotland having been based in London and Salzburg.

An in-demand chamber musician who plays with ensembles including Hebrides Ensemble, the award winning Nephele Ensemble, and Red Note, she was a member of the Edinburgh Quartet from 2011-14, a mentor for the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival directed by Levon Chilingirian and has taken part in the IMS Prussia Cove and Wye Valley Chamber Music Festivals.

Jessica comes from a family of musicians – her father, Michael, plays the viola, and her mother, Elizabeth, is a violinist. But, far from being encouraged to follow the family career path, Jessica is pretty sure that her parents wanted all four of their children to go into medicine or law.

In fact, she was the only one who chose a career in music.

She played in youth orchestras, which is where she got the chamber music bug, starting off with the piano and then progressing to the violin, which she found challenging.

‘It’s a very difficult instrument to play well,’ she says, ‘and it took me quite some time to master it. Listening to my mum play made me realise just how a violin should sound.’

Once she got the hang of it, she began to enjoy the social side of playing chamber music.

Despite knowing from the age of 14 that she wanted to make music her career, Jessica didn’t start to play the viola until she was 22.

As a member of the Edinburgh Quartet, she toured around Scotland’s universities, bringing music to the students. The foursome also played a number of concerts sponsored by Creative Scotland, which were designed to appeal to an audience who may not ordinarily go to hear chamber music.

These included a series of one-hour concerts at 5.30pm, designed for people to enjoy after a hard day at the office, and even late-night affairs at Summerhall in Edinburgh.

She feels lucky that she has had the privilege of travelling the world and working with some great musicians along the way. Some of her highlights include working with Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos and playing a concert in Carnegie Hall in New York City conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.

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  • Part of this feature was originally published in 2014.