Born in Middlesex, Austin arrived in the Midlands by way of Manchester and Tenerife. He was five when he started the piano, thanks to his mother being a teacher of the instrument. Austin, along with his elder sister, then learned the violin and his younger sister – who now plays for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra - learned the cello. Austin says ‘it took a large part of my dad’s spare time ferrying us to lessons, something which I repeated with my own children’.
Austin studied violin at the Royal Academy with Ralph Holmes and Lionel Bentley and learned piano with the composer Michael Head. Following an audition in ‘a tiny practice room at the very top of the Academy’s tiniest staircase’ Austin started work with the Halle Orchestra in Manchester in September 1974. ‘In those days I enjoyed week-long Prom concerts in Leicester and Harrogate where most of the orchestra camped!’ He also toured in the USA, Poland, Hong Kong and Australia.
Austin, his wife and two children moved to Tenerife in 1988 where he played in the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra for two years. The family enjoyed their time there but decided to return to the UK when a third child was on the way. Austin freelanced for a year-and-a-half with Opera North and Northern Chamber Orchestra before joining the CBSO.
As second violin - ‘a very nice place to be’ – Austin enjoys the solos played by colleagues in different concerts. Of his activities outside of the Orchestra Austin says ‘It’s important to be able to give something back when you enjoy playing for a living so I play at church when I get the chance and have been known to polish off hits from the 30s and 40s at the local residential home’.
When not playing Austin can be found ‘going for gentle pootles’ on his bike or sitting on an embankment at the Severn Valley Railway with camera at the ready.
Supported by Tim Marshall