Hywel Jones, principal viola

What do you do for a living?
I am a solicitor and partner in a US law firm.
Tell us a little about the instrument you play? Do you play any other instrument?
Unlike many viola players, I am not a convert from the violin.  I started with the viola and am proud of it!  The viola, as you might know, is much more than a 'large violin'.  It is larger – typically between 15 and 18 inches long – compared to the meagre 14 inches of the violin.  Unlike its sister, the viola does not have a standard size.  Luthiers have experimented for centuries with the its size and shape, often adjusting its proportions to make an instrument with a shorter scale length and lighter weight, but which still has a large enough sound box to create the wonderful 'viola sound.'  The longest and widest viola you are ever likely to see is the so-called 'Tertis model' viola - often unplayable!  Other makers have experimented with new ergonomic designs, notably the 'cutaway' viola (which has one shoulder cut out to make shifting in high positions easier) made by Otto Erdesz.  He was a wonderful maker.  I own two of his violas and now play on one of his cut-away models. I attempt to play the violin occasionally and play the piano to myself after a few glasses of wine.
When did you start your musical education?
I started with the piano at the age of eight and the viola at the age of fourteen.  I soon joined the West Glamorgan Youth Orchestra and later the National Youth Orchestra (of Wales, of course), continued playing through university, finding my spiritual home with the CCO in 1995.
How long have you been with the CCO?
The CCO was founded around my dining table in Clapham in 1995.
What has been your favourite CCO concert?
The concert we gave in March 2008.  Our performance of Brahms’s Third Symphony moved Alan to tears.
Which piece of music do you most enjoy playing?
Currently, I can’t stop playing Brahm’s piano Intermezzo in A Major, Opus 118, no 2.
If you could take a recording of one piece of music to a desert island, what would it be?
The CCO’s recording of Beethoven 7, of course.
Who are your musical heroes?
Composers:  Mozart and Shostakovich; Instrumentalists: David Oistrakh, Nathan Milstein and our very own Lawrence Power.
When was the last time you attended a concert as one of the audience?
Ashamedly, it was the Proms – Rattle and the Berlin Phil.
What do you listen to in the car?
Currently, Die Zauberflote and Everything But the Girl.
What are your other interests?
There's not much time left for much else!   Chamber Music with the Briarwood String Quartet and gardening when I get a chance.