A VIOLINIST who turned to conducting after a “mysterious” condition forced him to quit playing professionally is to put on a concert to fund research into Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
Christopher George left his post as leader of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in 2010 after his playing deteriorated due to the neurological condition focal dystonia, or musician’s dystonia.
He was diagnosed two years earlier, after experiencing involuntary cramp in his left hand.
Now, half-way through a two-year conducting Masters course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, he will conduct the Playfair Orchestra in a concert in aid of the Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research next month.
The 39-year-old, who lives in Bruntsfield, said: “I had been at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for five years and it was a very enjoyable job. I had regular work playing a variety of the music I most loved with one of the world’s best chamber orchestras.
“My violin playing had been deteriorating for a while due to the interesting and somewhat mysterious neurological condition focal dystonia, or musician’s dystonia, which affected my left hand.”
Mr George has assembled and will conduct the Playfair Orchestra, which will consist largely of professionals from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra from Manchester and the Edinburgh Quartet, as well as talented amateur musicians.
“I find it very exciting to break down these divides in music-making,” he said. “My father, brother and sister will also be of our number.”
Mr George’s father Kenneth is an amateur flautist, his sister Sally Bates an amateur cellist and his brother Richard a professional violinist.
They will be among around 35 people to form part of the orchestra, with the concert taking place at Greyfriars Kirk on July 13, from 7.30pm. Around 250 to 300 people are expected to be in the audience.
Mr George said: “Euan’s father, Donald MacDonald, is chairman of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and has supported the orchestra generously for many years. It feels good to make a small reciprocal gesture of fundraising.”
Mr George hopes to raise around £2000 from selling tickets, priced £10, and from donations.