Hailing originally from Melbourne, Alison Mitchell was appointed Principal Flute of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in 2003.
Since leaving Australia to continue her studies in Basle, with the renowned Swiss Flautist Peter-Lukas Graf, she has maintained a very successful professional career between Europe and Australia playing with many major orchestras on both continents.
Shortly after arriving in the UK, Mitchell was appointed to the position of Principal Flute with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera with whom she performed for five years before embarking on a freelance career dedicated to solo and chamber music performances.
From there, an opportunity arose for her to return to Australia to take up the position of Associate Principal Flute with the Sydney Symphony. During this seven year period with the Symphony, she also regularly performed as Guest Principal Flute with the highly regarded Australian Chamber Orchestra and pursued a varied mix of chamber music, recordings, broadcasts for the ABC and solo recitals.
Since her return to Scotland as Principal Flute with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Mitchell performs and records regularly with SCO chamber ensembles and as a concerto soloist. Her performances have included Mozart’s Concertos in G and D, the Poulenc Sonata (orch. Berkeley), Concerto for Flute (1980) by Nigel Osborne, Cimarosa’s Concerto for 2 Flutes, Honegger’s Concerto da Camera for Flute and Cor Anglais, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 4 and most recently CPE Bach's A major Concerto. Her recording of Mozart’s Flute Concerto in G major with the SCO was released in 2006 on Linn Records, receiving glowing reviews: "Mitchell's sound... is light, clear and freshly coloured with transparent precision and agility and refined musical grace." (Sydney Morning Herald).
In 2011 Mitchell will premiere a new concerto for flute written especially for her and the SCO by the Australian composer, Gordon Kerry.
As well as her work in Scotland, she has a continuing relationship with the Australian Chamber Orchestra as Guest Principal Flute and tours with them regularly both internationally and throughout Australia. She has also recorded and performed, with Angela Hewitt and the ACO, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 5 and the Triple Concerto for flute, violin and piano. The highly acclaimed recording, released by Hyperion, subsequently won many awards including Gramophone CD of the Month.
Alongside her busy SCO schedule Mitchell performs as soloist and chamber musician, most notably, in collaboration with, Christian Zacharias, the Hebrides Ensemble, Mr McFall's Chamber, pianist Scott Mitchell, and guitarist Allan Neave and at East Neuk festival as a regular guest artist. She is also a member of the Scottish Chamber Soloists.
Alison Mitchell takes a very active role in the SCO education programme and also gives specialist woodwind coaching. She has worked with many youth orchestras and ensembles namely the Baltic Youth Philharmonic with Musical Director Kristjan Jarvi, the Australian Youth Orchestra, and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and at the Australian National Academy, the Sydney Conservatorium and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she is currently lecturer in Flute.
What is your most memorable concert? (Either playing or listening)
I don't have a real favourite as there are so many great concerts I've taken part in, but certainly one outstanding performance I remember with Sir Charles Mackerras at the helm was Beethoven's Fidelio at the Barbican in London.
What item can you not live without?
I guess it would be my flute!! Help!
What's on my iPod, or what do you listen to in car?
On my iPod I have a very eclectic mix of classical, jazz, rock, pop and podcasts of Australian comedians 'Roy and HG - The Life' (great fun)! In the car I tend to listen to radio or CDs of, for example, REM, Paul Simon, Fleet Foxes, Madness, Queen etc. depending on my mood. Classical never really works in the car as you can never hear the quiet bits!
Tea of Coffee?
I don't drink black teas or coffee much though I love coffee when it's made properly and that is particularly hard to find in the UK. My regular hot drink is fennel tea and I love a good hot chocolate.
If you had to eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I guess if it was only one type it would be vegetables as there is a good choice in that food group? I'd really miss meat, fish, fruit and of course the odd bit of chocolate!!
Photo © John Elder