Principal second violin: Amy Cusick
There are no words more likely to bring colour to the cheeks of the Second
Violins than the phrase 'playing second fiddle', with its implication that
their role is somehow inferior or subordinate to that of the Firsts. But there
is no doubting that their parts are often (though not always) less demanding
than those of the First Violins and certainly involve fewer excursions to the
higher reaches of the fingerboard.
The pleasure for most Second Violins comes not from 'playing the tune' - a
privilege which undeniably usually falls to the Firsts - but from supplying, in
the company of the violas, cellos and basses, those vital harmonies which can
transform even the most banal of musical themes into pieces of music with real
light and shade. There is also the fascination of observing the different ways
in which composers approach this task: the delicate counterpoint of Bach, the
embroidery of Mendelssohn, the even-handedness of Dvorak (who, as an orchestral
player himself, always went to great pains to share out the tunes), the
hammered-out semi-quavers of Beethoven; and so on.
On the concert platform, the Second Violins are usually located alongside the
Firsts, and this is the arrangement favoured by The Alderley Edge Orchestra in
the interests of achieving a good ensemble. An alternative layout, whereby the
Seconds are located to the right of the conductor as a mirror image of the
Firsts, has its adherents although it is less common today than it used to be.
In fact, such an arrangement can occasionally make better musical sense,
especially in passages (for example, the famous opening bars of the finale of
Tchaikovsky's Symphonie Pathétique) where a composer has clearly written antiphonal parts with such physical
separation in mind and which lose much of their impact in the more conventional
Being accustomed to playing a supportive role in the orchestra, it is not
surprising that the Second Violins of The Alderley Edge Orchestra are, without
exception, very kind and supportive individuals. This statement is, of course,
entirely unconnected with the fact that the writer of these notes is drawn from
The Alderley Edge Orchestra
Amy Cusick has been playing the violin and piano for nearly 30 years, having
achieved grade 8 ABRSM on both instruments. Music has always been an important
part of her life: at one time she was in six orchestras and has performed in
such venues as the Royal Albert Hall and the Festival Hall. However, she now
has a young daughter so her hobby time is limited and she currently plays in
only two orchestras.
She has been a member of the Alderley Edge Orchestra since 2011, originally in
the first violins and now leading the seconds. She enjoys playing and listening
to baroque and classical musical, especially Beethoven and Dvorak - in fact,
anything with a good melody!
Amy is a primary school and music teacher, and has been teaching for 14 years.
She thoroughly enjoys working with young children and, as a new mum herself,
watching them progress and develop.