Finn Mannion

RPS Julius Isserlis Scholar 2019

Irish-Scottish cellist Finn Mannion is our youngest RPS Julius Isserlis Scholar this year at the age of 17. This Autumn, he heads to Germany to explore study possibilities and make contacts for his future.

We asked him to share some sentiments about his forthcoming travel and on why music now plays such an important role in his life.

Tell us about where you are going to study. What drew you towards Germany and where do you think it will take you?

For me, this coming year is going to be all about investigation and discovery. I’m 17 and currently trying to decide where to study for the next four years. To do this, I need to find a teacher to study with that I feel will help me grow and develop as an artist. Living abroad is a life-changing opportunity, but it’s a very exciting possibility and I need to find out more about the different options. I have always been particularly drawn to Germany; I am keen to find out in more depth now about the styles of teaching and the standard required to enter a conservatoire there. I also want to find out more about the cities, the culture, and the music scene by visiting them, talking to students, meeting teachers and familiarising myself with the opportunities and challenges of different pathways. I guess it’s more important to get to know the teachers, but it is also important to understand the wider context and it would, of course, be great to end up somewhere I would also enjoy living!

Why is music important to you?

Music is, and has always been, incredibly important to me. I was first exposed to the cello not long after starting primary school, when a cellist came into my school to give a short recital for my class. I was so drawn to the cello’s deep sonority that straight after that concert I asked my parents to let me start the cello and, to my delight, they agreed. The older and better I became, the more I found that music was beginning to take over so many aspects of my life - and this has been so enriching and rewarding. Music is always bringing me to places and events where I get to meet people who are equally passionate. I really enjoy being in places where I can invest time and energy in my learning and development. And even when the work is hard it is enjoyable too. Music is all about relationships – give-and-take in equal measure. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in having so many people – at school and at home – to support and encourage me from an early age. In return, I try to take music seriously when it comes to practice and performance, but I thoroughly enjoy the fun of collaboration and the camaraderie too.

Who is your favourite artist or ensemble, and why?

This one is impossible! The list of artists that have inspired me over the years would be a never ending one. I could never choose an outright favourite - and my preferences on performance styles vary from person to person depending on what I’m listening to. However, having said that, Jaqueline du Pré is someone that has had a great impact on me. Years ago, I was shown a video by a friend - it was a three-minute long excerpt taken from an old film/documentary ‘The Trout’ that contained du Pré, Barenboim, Perlman, Zukerman and Mehta. They were all backstage, swapping instruments and just having a laugh, only minutes before they walked on stage to perform Schubert’s ‘Trout’ quintet to a London audience. That video reminds me of why I was drawn to music to begin with, and that however gruelling the hours of practice can be at times, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

If you didn’t play a musical instrument, what would you be doing instead?

I spent ages thinking about this question. I have never had a ‘back up’ plan for something else and have always been a bit single-minded about being a musician. However, if I didn’t play the cello, I would probably have considered work as a luthier as I’ve already experimented with making my first violin – which isn’t really playable – but was great fun!


Finn Mannion currently studies with Ruth Beauchamp at St Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh. He has won the School's Junior and Intermediate Recital Prizes (2015 and 2018) and was a solo recital prizewinner in the Edinburgh Competition Festival, winning the ‘Gray Gold Medal’ in 2015 and the ‘Winifred Gavine Gold Medal’ in 2017. Finn has also been principal cello of the Junior and the Senior Orchestras of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland.

For Finn's full biography, click here.