Meet WNO

Alison Gillies

Tutti Cello

Alison grew up in Wiltshire, where she studied cello privately with Bruno Schrecker, before winning an undergraduate string scholarship to study at Cardiff University. After graduating, Alison spent an entertaining year working simultaneously as a librarian by day and a croupier by night, before continuing her postgraduate studies with Richard Markson at Trinity College of Music. She later read for an MPhil at Bristol University.  

Alison freelanced regularly with WNO for 10 years before joining the Company in 2018. She enjoyed a busy and varied career as a freelance cellist, playing with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra and RTE Concert Orchestra, among others. Alison has also played for West End shows, for Strictly Come Dancing stars Anton du Beke and Erin Boag, and once at a packed-out Wembley Stadium with Kanye West, sporting a gold face mask.

In 2015, Alison experienced her 15 minutes of fame when she took part in an impromptu string quartet performance of Pachelbel’s Canon (along with WNO violinist Emma Waller) on the central reservation of a gridlocked M5. The event attracted global press coverage after a YouTube video went viral, attracting more than a million views in less than a week.

Alison’s WNO highlights so far include performing Die Meistersinger at the BBC Proms in 2010 and the tours to Finland and Hong Kong.

Outside WNO, Alison is an occasional half marathon runner who enjoys trying to speak several languages badly and tackling cryptic crosswords.