Yo Yan Zhou
Concertmaster, 1st Violin
Born in Guangzhou, China, Yo Yan began playing the violin at the age of 2. Yo Yan went on to study at the Attached Secondary School of Xinghai Conservatory of Music in her home city. By the age of 11, she made her solo concert debut in Xinghai concert hall. Yo Yan's hobbies include knitting and sky diving.
Julia Sylva Martins
Assistant concertmaster,1st Violin
Julia was born and grew up in Panama. Her love for playing the violin came late into her teens after her air violin finally broke.
Julia has recently taken up air guitar and is planning to start a band.
Principal, 1st Violin
Born in Bonn, Germany, Henry's family moved to the USA when he was 6. Left behind, Henry quickly began busking outside Beethoven's house for his dinner.
Even now you will often find him having a quick fiddle.
Domenico was born in Huntly to Italian/Argentinian immigrants. His father was a wine grower, his mother a chemical engineer.
He learnt both to drink and play the violin whilst still at school.
As his father would say "il vino aiuta il flusso musicale"("Wine helps the music flow").......
Phillipa tells us she has two great loves in her live, her violin and Trigger her fourteen hand palomino gelding.
Her favourite piece of music?
William Tell Overture by Rossini.
Elisabeth van Erp
Born in Antwerp, Elisabeth loved nothing more than cycling along the cobbled streets whilst playing her violin, actually that's how she broke her nose. Baroque music is her passion, no doubt from growing up in the home of the painter Pieter Paul Rubens.
Before joining SOL Pauline played with the North German Radio Orchestra and the Århus Symphony Orchestra in Denmark.
Pauline owns a world class collection of pens.
Born in Syria, Mujahid, immigrated to New Zealand in 2007. "My name is a red flag on every flight," Mujahid laughs, "I'm always last through border controls. The Mafia might conceal weapons in violin cases, me, I conceal a violin!"
Suave and sophisticated, George Bond is everything his second name would suggest, "I'm no spy though,"he smiles, leaving you just a little suspicious.
A native of Eritrea, Muhammed first learned to play a Masenqo (a traditional lute played with a bow). A distant Italian Uncle gave him an old violin and told him he should pick it up, Muhammed still hasn't put it down.
After graduating from the prestigious Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Milena worked throughout the world in many renowned Orchestras. A high achiever in everything she does, Milena became a Babushka (Grandmother) at a very early age, "I was always fascinated by matryoshka dolls. I wanted to become one and now I am!"
With a Māori mother and Japanese father, Wiremu sees himself as half Tētēkura, half Samurai. A follower of Zen, Wiiremu lets the music flow, such as the stream flows into the river.
Born in Paris, France, Charlotte has an acute sense of justice. Charlotte holds her violin with love, however she holds a deep distrust of all journalists with a particular hatred of one.
A keen history buff, Boris was born in Sighisoara, Romania. "I find myself enthralled and transfixed by the violin, impaled by it's sound." "Vlad would understand."
Shi comes from Gyeongju, South Korea, where he lives with his robotic wife, Sophia. "Sophia supports my career, my life, everything. Right now I'm teaching her the bango."
With a tough perspective on law enforcement and a love of showmanship, when not playing the violin, Damon hosts a very popular tv show.
Nayumi grew up playing the kokyū (a traditional Japanese stringed instrument). After studying music at the Kyoto City University of Arts, Nayumi first played with the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra before heading off shore. "I like to play instruments made from cats."
Coming from Trinidad and Tobago, Leroy gets a lot of stick about his other love the, steel drum. He does admit to it being a little bit loud,"My babies sleep much better when I play them lullabies with the violin instead of the pan drums!" Leroy's other hobbies include train spotting and limbo.
"I like having dry feet," Katsumi explains, coming from a long line of rice farmers. Before her talent for the violin was discovered, she too, would have followed in the family tradition.
For Norwegian, Tobias playing his violin is his 'kos' (Norwegian coziness). When not dressing up as a viking, Tobias can be found going for a 'tur' (tramping) in the nearest woods.
Carolina was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone. A keen soccer fan, Carolina stands by her national team. She says she wishes her team was more like a tea bag, because, in her words, "a tea bag usually stays in the Cup!"
Coming from South Korea, Hye is profoundly influenced by Confucian principles including the support of group harmony, respect for elders and a considerable reverence for authority (of this El Maestro approves).
Born in Maputo, Mozambique, Jaylyn loves nothing more than a dish of matapa (cassava leaves in coconut and peanut) washed down with a shot or three of Tipo Tinto (local rum).
John is the self confessed practical joker of the group, "Well you've got to have one haven't you." His favourite all time joke was when he turned the orchestra pit into a ball pit. "It took close to 400,000 balls!" (El Maestro does not approve of this kind of behaviour).
Section Principal, Cello
Stigur grew up in Kyrgyzstan to Scandinavian parents. "I used to make dens in a local quarry. Having a silly accent the other kids couldn't understand me. The cello became my friend. It talked to me."
A proud Indo-Fijian, Sitiveni came to the cello later than most orchestral performers. "I'd been brought up on the Bhajans and traditional Fiji folk music but, from the first time I felt (the cello's) hard wood between my legs I just couldn't get enough."
Born in small town France, Julie loves her cello. Daughter of a butcher, Julie is a staunch vegan.
Her favourite pass time when not playing with SOL is making music with her boyfriend atop of their apartment building.
Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod
Born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, Margreet is passionate about the cello. "I love holding the vibrating instrument between my legs," Agent of a double life, Margreet has a great love for dancing, this however, appears to bring as many adversaries as admirers.
Principal, 1st Viola
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Errol moved to the UK when he was 12. He enjoys the deep, warm, silky soft sounds of the viola which he compares to his affection, on a cold day, for a warm, silky soft mug of hot chocolate.
Playing the viola is elemental to Leeloo. Always at peace with her viola, Leeloo tells us,"It is through playing the viola that I comprehend what I believe to be the physical manifestation of humanity."
Born in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, Luis gained an international scholarship to study at the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris."I was very young and missed my mother's egusi and fufu." (soup and cassava porridge).
Born in Lund, Sweden on Midsommar, Magnus loves a party."I was born on the night everyone dances round a giant penis (midsommarstång)."
Have another snaps!
Coming from South Africa, Fundiswa has worked with Wikus van de Merwe from time to time in the past. "When ever we get together it always seems to involve umqombothi (Xhosa beer) when we can find it and a plate of prawns."
Trevor is a New Zealand Bluff man through and through. Many a time he's turned up at rehearsals still wearing white gum boots, having spent the morning chucking oysters.
Of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa, Rangi, was born at Kawhia, New Zealand. Rangi is renowned for her own composing, especially of waiata (songs). "The viola sings to me when ever I play it."
Dennis Dimbleby Bagley
Born in the UK, Dennis was once an advertising man. "The viola saved me from the boil of advertising,"says Dennis, absentmindedly scratching at some neck pimples.
Born in Trabzon, Turkey, Angelina is used to a bit of rain. "I spent a lot of time sheltering indoors with my viola." When Angelina got her first job her mother advised her to put something away for a rainy day. "I most certainly did," says Angelina, "My umberella!"
Of Romani descent, Jean was born in Liberchies, Pont-a-Celles, Belgium. Jean also plays guitar and bango. When not playing with SOL, Jean can be found in the French Jazz Clubs fiddling about with Gyspy Jazz.
Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic is where Niko calls home."I am a viola playing Bohemian." he proclaims adding,"As they say at the end of a restaurant meal, Czech please!"
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Jiro loves music. A classically good looking boy, Jiro made his debut as a model before singing in a boy band. "I see the viola as an extension of my voice."
At 5'3" Sarah is one of the shorter players. A determined warrior she works hard and sacrifices much for her special son John. Playing the viola is her escape.
Calling Planet Earth his home, Ruby has always been an outlandish, flamboyant creature. When not involved with the Orchestra Ruby hosts his own, very successful web based radio show.
Originally from Mongolia, Buri finds his spare time taken up on a rubber mat. "After an evenings performance there's nothing better than a good old wrestle," Buri explains whilst tuning up with a few warm up stretches.
To relax, there's nothing more Irishwoman Rowan likes than having a good crack with the fiddle. "When I was young I was smaller than the other kids. A viola is bigger than a violin but because I was so small, for years I thought I was learning the violin."
Born in Jordan, Selma sees her viola as almost an extension to her soul. "When I play I feel like I am the instrument, I am the sound.... Well that's unless my Auntie is cooking mansaf and the smells start wafting."
Shunsuke comes from a long line of Bushi (meaning both samurai and a form of folk music). Shunsuke is quiet to tell us which one relates to him.
Precious by name precious by nature from Abuja, Nigeria, Precious doesn't like travelling much, "I just like my own bed you know."
Tashi "Evelyn" Johnson
After immigrating to the USA in her childhood, Tashi has always had one foot in the past, of her life in Africa, and one foot in the present. "The viola is my release. I see it as a very feminine instrument, a part of me. If I were ever to give up playing I would feel mutilated."
From Poland, Anna loves a polka, but it is the Polonaise (Polish dance music) that takes her back to childhood carnivals.
Chopin is of course her favourite composer.
Born in the Punjab, Rajesh was brought up on Bhangra (upbeat Indian dance music). "How I came to play the viola is a long and twisting story," he explains, "But the ending involves me performing with the Symphony of Life. That's all you need to know."
With a liking for lilies, Laura has always been a dutiful daughter, "We all learnt to play different instruments as children and would regularly give recitals to our family." Aware of her own mortality, after witnessing death at a young age, Laura is also a funeral celebrant.
Joan was born in 1962, that's the room next to 1963 in Brooklyn, New York. A very busy woman not only does Joan play the viola but she's a published author, a chat show host and a stand out stand up. Obsessed with age and her looks, she's had so much plastic surgery, she says when she dies, she'll donate her body to Tupperware.