Jane Atkins

Principal Viola


Jane Atkins is one of Britain’s most diverse violists with performances encompassing multiple genres including Baroque to Contemporary music, Dance and Jazz.

At the age of six Jane was awarded a scholarship to the Yehudi Menuhin School. She completed her studies with David Takeno at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she won the LPO/ Pioneer Young Soloist of the Year and gained second prize in the Lionel Tertis competition. Since her solo debut performing the Walton concerto with Kurt Sanderling and the London Philharmonic, Jane has appeared as a soloist throughout the UK and Europe performing with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the English and Scottish Chamber Orchestras: the Dutch and Danish Radio Orchestras and both the City of London and Northern Sinfonias. As a recitalist she has performed in most of major British Festivals including Harrogate, Spitalfields, Newbury, Cheltenham, East Neuk and Edinburgh.

After four years as Principal viola in the Chamber Orchestra of Europe Jane joined the Scottish Chamber Orchestra as Principal viola in 2008. Her more recent solo collaborations include performances of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with both Alexander Janiczek and Stephanie Gonley, Brahms F minor sonata with Llyr Williams and Auerbach’s  Sogno di Stabat Mater with Hugo Ticciati. In the SCO’s 2015/16 season Jane performed Kurtag’s Movement with Robin Ticciati and Britten’s Lachrymae with Oliver Knussen.

Jane has always been committed to expanding the viola repertoire and has commissioned and performed many new works by Diana Burrell, Ib Norholm, John Woolrich and Andrew Toovey. Her contemporary recordings include Woolrich’s Ulyssees Awakes, Burrell’s Concerto and Tavenor’s Out of the Night for Viola and Tenor. Other recordings include the Telemann and the newly reconstructed Bach concertos, both recorded with the Adderbury ensemble and Rothko Chapel by Morton Feldman with James Wood and the New London Chamber Choir. The Scottish composer John McLeod is currently writing a viola concerto for Jane, commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, to be performed in their 2018/19 season.

 Future projects include European, Asian and North American performances of  ‘Goldberg Variations- ternary patterns for insomnia’, with the Scottish Ensemble and Andersson Dance as well as innovative concerts with Hugo Ticciati and the O/Modernt Kammarorkester in Sweden. Jane teaches at St Mary’s School of Music and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

60 Seconds with Jane

Why did you choose your instrument?

I started playing the violin when I was 4 and went to a special music school from the age of 6. At my school all the violinists also had to play the viola. I love the depth of sound of the lower strings on the instrument and when I was 16 I put my violin away under my bed and refused to play it anymore! I only wanted to learn the viola so I ordered lots of viola music and learnt it.

What do you love most about playing your instrument?

I like to be in the middle of the texture, accompanying the instruments who are playing the tunes but also being responsible for rhythm and texture. Quite often the viola part in a piece of chamber or orchestral music is so crucial and you have to work very hard to be heard, which is a great challenge.

What is it like to perform in a concert?

Very exciting and sometimes a bit scary. When I start performing on my viola I feel like nothing else matters and that my life almost depends on it. It takes me to to another place, like another planet or dimension!