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Treasured 18th century violin in good hands with Ulster Orchestra prodigy Sarah

By Laura Abernethy

Published 12/04/2016

Young violinist Sarah White, from Belfast
Young violinist Sarah White, from Belfast

A young musician will be hitting the right notes on a 236-year-old violin after she was unveiled as the new leader of Ulster Youth Orchestra.

Sarah White (20), from Belfast, was presented with the Milton Violin, made by renowned Neapolitan violin maker Joseph Gagliano, to be played throughout her time as leader.

The precious instrument was donated to the Arts Council by Professor Alan Milton in 1980 and in the past has been used by the leader and principal players of the Ulster Orchestra.

Three years ago the Arts Council decided to loan the precious instrument to the Ulster Youth Orchestra to be used by exceptionally gifted musicians in their role as leader.

Sarah, who is a current student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, was the unanimous choice of assessors for the role of leader for 2016.

The former Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School pupil will now take her position at the head of the Orchestra, which was established in 1993 and is funded by the Arts Council.

Before Sarah moved to Glasgow she studied with Tamás Kocsis, leader of the Ulster Orchestra.

She is currently in her first year at the renowned Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) where she is taught by Justine Watts, leader of the Scottish Ballet Orchestra and the Scottish Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sarah holds a distinction in Grade 8 and is currently playing with the Symphony Orchestra as well as performing with an RCS string quartet.

Head of Music at the Arts Council, Ciaran Scullion, said: "Congratulations to Sarah in becoming leader of the Ulster Youth Orchestra. Thanks to the generosity of Professor Milton, we are able to provide the rare chance to play this exceptional instrument to generations of our best young violinists.

"We are delighted by the appointment of Sarah and have no doubt she will put this very special opportunity to great use."

Paula Klein, general manager of the Ulster Youth Orchestra, said: "Sarah is an extremely talented young musician who demonstrates great enthusiasm and dedication in her playing.

"We are thrilled that she has been awarded the position of leader in 2016 and we look forward to hearing her playing on the Milton violin at the summer course.

"The directors of the Ulster Youth Orchestra are delighted that the Arts Council provides the leader of the Ulster Youth Orchestra with the opportunity of playing such a fine instrument.

"Chances like this are rare and we are extremely proud to be able to give Sarah such a helping hand in her developing career."

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