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Nova Quartet

We are all passionate about music.  Music is in our lives all the time whether playing, teaching or just listening to it. With music, the possibilities are endless and we love exploring them. Music means something different to every single person and can be just as emotional to us as it is to the listener. 

We have been a part of some life changing performances that have shaped us into the people that we are today and we wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. 

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Nataliia Naismith - violin


A graduate of the Kyiv Conservatoire, Nataliia is a Ukrainian violinist with a wide range of experience from classical to pop.  She has toured with professional orchestras in China and Spain and was a regular in the studio orchestra for the Ukrainian version of Strictly Come Dancing as well as performing with singers from one of Europe’s leading opera houses, La Scala.  She later travelled the world as a musician on a number of leading cruise lines including Celebrity, MSC and Holland America, playing in string quartets, duos and solo where she had to be able to switch at the drop of a hat from one style to another. Settling in Scotland in 2014, Nataliia is co-leader of Orchestra Nova, leader of the Aberdeen Music Theatre Orchestra and a member of  Aberdeen Sinfonietta.

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Erin Smith - violin

By the age of 12 Erin had already appeared on TV and radio and won over 200 Scottish fiddle competitions and later twice became the winner of the Daughter of Dewar award. .  While at school, she achieved her ABRSM Diploma with distinction, and Honour Diploma at London College of Music. After studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, she continued at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire where she joined the Camilli String quartet, touring the UK on many occasions. Erin has toured all over the UK and Europe with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, which she led on their tours of Britain and Ireland. She has also toured Mauritius with Camerata Scotland.  Among her favourite memories are the privilege of working with some of UK’s best conductors, soloists and ensembles including Sir Simon Rattle, Nicola Benedetti, Elton John and the Kronos Quartet.  Erin is co-leader of Orchestra Nova.



Emma Alexander - viola

Emma started playing the violin with her mum in Buckie at young age.  While studying at the specialist music school, St Mary’s, Edinburgh, Emma played with both the National Youth of Scotland and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.  She won a scholarship to the Royal Northern College of Music where she was part of a prestigious residency in Montepulciano with concerts in Sienna and Rome.  It was at this time that Emma found her passion for chamber music and with the Virr String Quartet she won the prestigious Hirsch Prize performing at London’s Wigmore Hall as well as playing quartets by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies in front of the composer, himself.  Emma is principal viola of Orchestra Nova.

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Gareth John - cello

Gareth's parents were both professional musicians and he played cello from a young age, becoming the youngest player in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales at the age of twelve. Having graduated from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Distinction in Performance, Gareth later studied conducting and, among others, has conducted with the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland, the North Wales Youth Orchestra, Aberdeen Sinfonietta and a TV special for S4C. He performs regularly in recitals and as a concerto soloist, and has broadcast as a soloist on BBC Radio 3.  He conducts Orchestra Nova after conducting Aberdeen City Orchestra for 23 years, and was the founder of the Deveron Festival which he directed for 12 years.

"Gareth John had crafted a fully rounded, perfectly balanced sound that was destined to impress and delight from the very opening (Boccherini: Cello Concerto)."

"A wonderfully high-powered performance (Elgar: Cello Concerto) with a warmly affectionate slow movement and a gripping sense of atmosphere throughout."

Press & Journal

Music at Aden Sept 2023
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The String Quartet

A string quartet is a group of four people who play stringed instruments consisting of two violinists, a violist, and a cellist. Each member of the Nova Quartet began playing their instruments at a young age and each musician will tell you that when it comes down to it theirs is that one instrument that they couldn’t live without. Each player is dedicated to the instrument they play, spending hours learning every possible technique and style their instrument is able to create.


The violin was first known in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries to give the instrument a more powerful sound and projection. In Europe, it served as the basis for the development of other stringed instruments used in Western classical music. Violins are important instruments in a wide variety of musical genres but are most prominent in Classical music, both in groups (from chamber music to orchestras) and as solo instruments. Violins are also important in many varieties of folk musiccountry music and jazz

Nataliia plays a German violin made by Otto Klier in 1936.  Erin plays a copy of the famous Maurin Stradivarius violin of 1718 made by the English luthier, Roger Hansell in 2014.

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The viola is, like the violin, a string instrument that is generally bowed or plucked. Slightly larger than a violin, it has a lower and deeper sound. Since the 18th century, it has been the middle voice of the string quartet, between the violin and the cello. 

Emma plays a viola made in Parma, Italy by Elisa Scrollavezza.

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Gareth plays on an English cello made by Peter Walmsley and dates from around 1720.  Who knows?  It might have been played in an orchestra conducted by Handel!

The name cello is derived from the Italian violoncello which means "little violone" and its players are called cellists.  The instrument is a vital part of the standard orchestra and is the bass voice of the string quartet although many composers give it a melodic line as well.

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