Ben - profile

Ben Newton


When and where was your first concert with the MCO?

February 2016 in Essen. Mahler 2 with Daniel Harding when I was in the MCO Academy from the Royal Northern College of Music.

What is your most memorable moment with the orchestra?

My most memorable moment happened on the Australia/Japan 2019 tour and didn’t involve any music. It was actually the incredible silence after playing Elgar’s "Nimrod" from the Enigma Variations at the start of a concert in Tokyo; which happened to fall on the anniversary of the terrible 2011 earthquake and tsunami. I’ve never heard such a profound stillness in a concert hall since that time and I don’t think I shall again.

If you could play another instrument what would it be?

The trombone. I love how versatile it is as an instrument. So many different colours and styles. From the trombone chorale at the end of Tchaikovsky sixth symphony; to Tommy Dorsey playing “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You”.

What would you do if you weren't a musician?

A pilot.

Which are your Desert Island Discs?

Frank Sinatra’s Only the Lonely, Mahler's symphonies (all of them if I’m allowed), Beethoven's string quartets (again…all of them), Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, and Ella Fitzgerald singing anything by George Gershwin.


Born in Manchester, Ben started playing the viola aged 13. He studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with Alex Thorndike, before moving back home to study with Vicci Wardman at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he won the Cecil Aronowitz Viola prize.

Ben enjoys a wide ranging professional career encompassing regular work as guest principal viola in various orchestras; including a recent solo performance of Richard Strauss' Don Quixote with Alban Gehardt and the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. He is a regular member of the John Wilson Orchestra and is the violist of the Dante String Quartet.

Aside from music, Ben is a keen cook and lives near Liverpool, U.K., with his partner Emily (also a violinist) and two cats. He is working towards achieving his private pilots licence.

Ben plays on a 1955 ‘Lawrence Cocker’ Viola.