Innocents Abroad

I came back to Britain in 1994 after a long absence – 22 years! I guess part of me came back searching for my British roots. I was born in Britain but emigrated to the US when I was 12 yrs old. My family became American citizens.

In 1994 I was at a crucial point in my career. I’d been earning a living as a professional orchestral musician for 10 years. At that time I was combining a busy job in the Hartford Symphony Orchestra with teaching. I’d taken a number of auditions, reached semis and final rounds, but wasn’t getting the bigger jobs. I was frustrated and trying to decide whether I wanted to continue on this career path.

I decided to take a leap and come back to Britain. It would inform my curiosity about what Britain was like; it bought me a bit more time to decide where my violin career was heading; and it gave me some potentially exciting new opportunities. I’d read some negative stuff about the British musical scene (especially London) – overworked, underpaid, and overpopulated with musicians, but a London friend encouraged me, saying there were jobs and the scene wasn’t so bad.

So I went. I took a year’s leave of absence from Hartford and never really looked back. Within a year I had played with Glyndeborne Touring Opera, London Mozart Players, City of London Sinfonia and had trials and job offers from both the Liverpool Philharmonic and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

I’ve been here 13 years and am settled back in London with the LSO after 5 years in Birmingham.

About the author

Louise Shackelton
Louise Shackelton

Louise Shackelton is a violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra and was until recently one of the Board's player directors. She began her British career with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, appointed by Sir Simon Rattle as co-principal second violin. Before 1994, she lived in the US, her family having emigrated to the US from the UK in the 1970s. She received a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University and a Master of Music from the Eastman School. Her first job was with the Florida Symphony. She went on to play with the Rochester Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, New Haven Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Boston Ballet Orchestra and the Rome Opera Orchestra.

Leave a Reply